Obstacle tips from Reebok Spartan Race Elite athletes
Need tips on conquering your next Reebok Spartan Race? Hear from Reebok partners and Spartan elites Amelia Boone, Hunter McIntyre, Rose Wetzel, and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich on how they overcome the toughest obstacles that come their way.
Favourite & Least Favourite Obstacle
- Hunter: Bucket carry (favourite); barbed wire crawl (least favourite)
- Amelia: Spear throw (least favourite)
- Matt: Spear throw (favourite); bucket brigade (least favourite)
- Rose: Water slide (favourite); tractor pull (least favourite)
Amelia: For me, the spear throw is without a doubt the toughest – it’s technique based, and since you only get one shot, you need to be on-point. The key is to think of throwing it like a dart – you want to aim at the target, and try to throw without any spin. I’ve struggled in the past, but I’ve found much better success this year with keeping the non-throwing arm point at the target throughout.
Matt: The spear throw is missed by over 97% of Spartans. This obstacle takes practice, practice, practice. I was 39 for 39 on this obstacle until I missed at Breckenridge and it cost me a hard-fought potential victory.
Hunter: Get a good grip by pinching opposite corners. Use your feet to move before your hands. It’s best to have a safe grip up top and slowly work your hands across after settling your base!
Amelia: Keep three points of contact on the wall at all times, and hold your body in close to the wall. Plant your feet firmly on the wall in the center of the blocks – the mid-foot teeth will help provide traction.
Matt: Get a good grip and take things slowly. Rushing through this obstacle will result in precious time lost doing 2-3 minutes of burpees. Take your time. Realize the platforms for the feet will always be muddy but the hand-holds are typically dry. Practice your grip strength at home by going rock climbing and hanging from pull-up bars.
Amelia: If you are comfortable, it’s most efficient to use the j-hook technique or the s-wrap – the mid-foot teeth and rope guard on the All-Terrain Series will grip the rope well without you needing to use the knots. Once you get your shoes hooked in there, rely on your legs to climb – not your arms. The drainage ports ensure that waterlogged shoes will not be a problem halfway up the rope.
Matt: Almost anyone can master the rope climb, but proper technique is paramount. Although I can climb the rope with hands only, I prefer to use my feet to assist in the climb. Many times the rope is too slippery for hands only and preserving energy is huge in an obstacle race. The All-Terrain Series shoe has a rope guard on the instep that has amazing grip and durability like no other shoe. Not only does it provide great traction but one can climb hundreds of ropes without degrading the shoe.
I always slide the rope to the side with my left foot. Then I step through with my right and pinch the rope and provide a stable platform to push and reach from. Using quick hands, I make an effort to move upward quickly, not using the knots, as I ascend with speed and quickness.
Hunter: Pull-ups are a big part of this. Using jumping pull-ups is a great way to train getting over this obstacle, since an explosive jump followed by a pull is what’s needed to get over an 8-foot wall. Last but not least, do not jump from the top! Ankles are a runner’s best friend.
Amelia: If the wall is too tall to reach by just jumping, kick off the wall (or “wall run”) by getting a running start, stepping on the wall, and kicking up to grab the top.
Matt: Run and jump with all your might. Trust that your initial take-off will be secure as the traction on the All-Terrain Series will bite into the mud or dirt below. As your hands grasp the top, allow the toes of your shoes to make a positive and sure grip on the wall. Bring your hips to top-wall level and bring one – then both – legs over. Keep your belly towards the wall, rolling over to save energy. Practice at home doing bar muscle-ups, ring muscle-ups, and hanging pull-ups.
Amelia: Chest to ground, jump at top. My advice here, just stay moving and grind them out as quickly as possible!
Matt: These should be everyone’s strength. If you’re not doing 100 a day in your training, you should be.
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