Warrior Dash And It’s Obstacles You’ll Have to Face!

The Warrior Dash is one of the most popular mud runs in the world and is a great introductory event for anyone who is new to obstacle course racing.

There’s a number of really fun obstacles that are part of the 5k course that you’ll get to test yourself.

Usually there’s over 10 obstacles on every Warrior Dash race but each event has it’s own mix and variety of them so sometimes if you do more than one of those events, you may see the same obstacles, but in a different order or even some that were in a previous event that will not show up in the next one.

Now personally, I haven’t done a Warrior Dash event yet, but I have done 7 other mud runs, and don’t really think I’ll ever get the chance to complete a Warrior Dash. I think it’s a fun OCR but I personally prefer other types of mud runs. Never the less, this is still a fun event if you’re new to mud runs in general.

The obstacles and tips to get through them:

Mud mounds: Usually this is the first challenge you see when you begin the race. It’s just 2 or 3 mounds that you climb up on, then go down into dirty water before climbing the next one. The water isn’t very deep, but it can be scary if you don’t know where you’re stepping. But at the bottom of the dirty water is nothing but more dirt so you don’t have to worry about stepping anything sharp.

Usually the mud mounds can be slippery too so if you lay on your back while going into the water and can’t control the speed, make sure to keep your feet out and legs a little bit bent when you land into the water.

Hard Rain: It’s about a 10 foot wall you climb, but first you have to get wet. Then while it’s slippery, you have to climb over it.

Chaotic Cargo: You scale up a wall, then have a net to climb through using your whole body, there are small areas in between the net where you can slip through with your hands and legs, but it’s not big enough for your whole body to fall through so it’s safe, but it is a tough challenge because the net can shake while you and other participants are going through it.

Alcatraz: It’s a long prop you climb onto but it’s on a river/lake where you can swim or walk through the water to reach it, but it’s above the water so when you reach it, you’ll have to climb over it.

Walk over it, then jump back into the water to cross to the other side where there’s land. Usually the height of the prop you climb on is about 1-2 feet and to get over it, what is recommended is to dive under water while your hands are holding onto the prop you have to climb on, then jump out of the water as quickly as you can and use the momentum to push yourself over and onto the obstacle.

Deadman’s drop: It looks a lot like the Hard Rain challenge, but without the puddle and it’s less slippery.

Diesel Dome: This is a semi octagon shaped obstacle in which you climb up wooden pillars, first going up, then diagonally up, then across horizontally, then diagonally down, then vertically down to finish it. It is about 15 feet high. It is important to maneuver slowly and make sure you hands and feet are firmly planted on each wooden block.

Chaotic Cargo: It is a net you climb up to then go down the other end. It can reach about 20 feet high. 

Pipeline: It’s like a tunnel, but made out of a net. Your body can’t really move around too much which makes Pipeline a lot more difficult to navigate through even though it’s short. 

Trenches: A crawl through dirt several feet deep. It’s about 30 feet long. 

Risky business: It is short challenge where you walk across a wooden pillar with water around you and get sprayed with more water. It is slippery and easy to fall into the water.

Under the Wire: Very similar course to the trenches but more difficult because it’s less deep, sometimes more muddy and there’s barb wire for a ceiling. 

Warrior Summit: A wall that is aiming sideways which you have to climb using a rope. Stand in a 45 degree angle when you catch the rope and pull your body back when holding the rope to avoid slipping and use your upper body to pull on the rope and reach the top. MudmanX also has this challenge!

The Goliath: This is the last main challenge you cross before the finish line. It is a long slide into dirty water but before you reach it, you usually have to climb up or across another obstacle to reach the top of the goliath before you begin the slide. After you get out of the water, you’re almost at the finish line!

Muddy Mayhem: If you don’t do this challenge in the mid part of the race, usually you’ll see it before the finish line (but typically, there’s another known as the Warrior Roast right after). You just go through

Warrior Roast: Usually this is the end of the race where runners jump through a fire. The height the flame reaches is about a foot off the ground so you don’t have to worry about getting burned.

You can find more challenges for this event and what they look like here.

When you complete this course, always take your time especially in the places where it’s most slippery to avoid injuries and wear gear that protects you.

Typically the Warrior Dash is more of a mud run that is very fun for beginners. If you are looking at something more challenging, something like the Spartan Race might be better.

A lot of people compare these 2 mud runs because they are the most popular so let’s see which is tougher:

Warrior Dash vs The Spartan Race:

We’re only comparing the 5k versions of each mud run (Warrior Dash only has a 5k). I like the Spartan Race more because it’s hard.

The Spartan Race has more uphill climbing than the Warrior Dash. It is also more challenging for most people and has obstacles that are generally higher, longer in distance and require more strength and time to get through.

That is why generally more people finish the Warrior Dash rather than the Spartan Race. Both courses are very fun, but can also have similar dangers

5 Ways to Increase Grip Strength For Mud Runs.

If you’re into mud runs, grip strength is pivotal in getting through them. Here’s at least 7 obstacles you will have to face in mud runs that are going to test your hand strength:

  • Net climbing.
  • Rope climbing.
  • Pulling weights and holding them.
  • Monkey bars and gymnastics rings.
  • Helping your teammates get through courses by pulling them up.
  • “Shakey” ladder climbs in which they constantly dangle when you’re climbing them.
  • Wall obstacles.

Every single challenge there requires that you don’t only have good upper body strength, but also incredible grip and arm strength.

Not into mud runs? If you’re just looking to build hand strength and are not interested in testing it out on an obstacle course, that’s ok, these 5 exercises are still going to be very important for building it!

1) Hold onto any kind of bar and try to hang on it for as long as possible.1

This is for people who have very little upper body strength and very weak grip, but it’s a great way to start training it. Typically people who can’t do pull ups or other exercises that involve the arm/upper body training should start from this.

Begin by hanging from a pull up bar for about 10 seconds. Try to maintain a firm hold on the bar you’re hanging on. Many people tend to let the weight of their body reduce the hold they have so they tend to hang by a few fingers rather than their whole hand. Try to make sure this doesn’t happen!

If you can hang on for 10 seconds, take a short break, then try it again. Your goal with this exercise is to keep these reps going until you feel like you can’t hang on anymore. The more resilience you build doing this, the better your hand strength will get.

However, if you’re looking to test yourself in things such as a mud run, then only being able to hang on is not enough, you need to be able to do a number of things with that ability and the next exercises are going to help with that:

2) If you can hold on for at least a minute, test your grip by swinging on monkey bars.2

Just hanging on to a bar is pretty easy. Even for the most out of shape people, you can still train it, but it becomes much more difficult when you start moving and swinging your body to reach another bar.

However being able to traverse a monkey bar is really awesome for the arms and fingers and is also the next exercise you want to advance into after the 1st one where you just hang on. 

One of the keys to being successful at a monkey bar traverse is first being able to hold on obviously, but the key is to build a momentum when you swing to grab the next bar and use it to build momentum into the next so you develop a constant motion that will make it easier to reach the end. 

If you can become good at doing that, the next phase is to not swing yourself, but reach one part of the monkey bar, let your body stop moving and then using only your strength get to the next, then doing it again. 

For mud run goers, some of the monkey bars you have to go through in some courses aren’t horizontal in shape and it’s very difficult to find these kinds of obstacles to train on, which is why if you learn the monkey bar swing from both a swinging and strength approach, you’re going to be much more prepared for the mud run ver3sion of it.

3) Got the monkey bar challenge completed? Then then try this next grip challenge:

Hit a tire with sticks! It’s a very exhausting, but great workout for your hands. All you’re doing is taking a regular stick and hitting a tire as hard as you can in a X ward motion for several minutes.

This exercise is probably going to give you callus but because each time you’re hitting the tire and there being a recoil from it, it’s forcing your hand to keep a firm hold at all times and this is working all the muscles in the hand.

4) Ah the pull up, how can you not include this in the exercise list?4

The pull up takes grip training to the next level from the first 3 exercises above because you’re not just hanging anymore, you’re seeking to use your hand strength to raise your body and this can really hurt your hands so make sure that you’re really good with those 3 exercises before you move into this one.

An advanced way to do pull ups is by adding some weights on your legs while you do it.

More weight on the body means more stress on the grip, but it is also going to help strengthen it! Certainly pull up bars that are wet will make it harder to use, but it’s also another way to challenge yourself.

5) The final and most difficult grip exercise…5

Nothing puts more pressure on your hands than rope climbing! Nobody who can’t do pull ups should do this exercise. And if you’re ever going to do mud runs like Tough Mudder and especially ANY Spartan Race, expect there to be a rope challenge of some sort that will require that you have some next level grip strength.

The only thing you may want to try if you’re not good at this is just hanging on the rope. Then learn to use your upper body to climb it and if you get good at that, learn climbing techniques to be able to hold onto it without falling.

There’s plenty of great other grip training exercises!

Usually any kind of exercise that requires that you hold something with weight, including yourself is going to help build up your grip resilience. So whether you’re holding something heavy in your hands and feeling the pressure on your fingers or hanging onto a pole or rope while your body is completely hanging, it’s going to train your hands.

And many of them will also help your upper body muscles as well! If you’re worried about cuts or plan on testing your grip on things such as wood where you can catch splinters, use regular gloves to protect yourself. 

Whatever hand exercise you do, always stretch your fingers after! 

What Types of Mud Runs Are Good For Beginners And Higher Levels?

Mud runs come in different types of difficulty levels. You never want to be a beginner that ends up on one that’s too tough to beat and at the same time, you never want to be at a higher level and on a course that’s too easy.

The following mud runs are divided based on the different fitness levels you may have:

Great mud runs for beginners:

These specific events are excellent for individuals or groups of friend who have never tried mud runs as well as those who don’t really want to compete and just want to take their time and enjoy this race without actually racing. 

They’re all muddy, they’re all 5 kilometers long, the obstacles are pretty easy to cross and you will have a good time.I have tried all of them except the Warrior Dash which is the most popular one out of them.

How do you know if you’re a beginner? Usually, this is how you can tell:

  • It’s your first time trying a mud run. 
  • You typically workout 1-2 times a week at the gym and maybe do some jogging.
  • You don’t really workout at all, but consider yourself in good shape.

Ones for more intermediate athletes:

  • Zombie Run: There’s 2 types of events you can do here, ones that are hosted in cities where typically it doesn’t get dirty on the course and the other which is in an open field and has some woods. You will get dirty in that one. There’s a lot of sprinting involved there because you’re avoiding zombies so it’s not good for people who want to take their time in these kinds of events. You need to be able to maneuver and dodge zombies! Learn more about zombie mud runs!
  • Spartan 5K: This event is somewhat a mix between intermediate and advanced but because it’s short, it tends to fit the middle level better. You’re going to run through some tough obstacles and uphill walks very often in this short course, and it will get you tired. 
  • BattleFrog Open (8K): BattleFrog is more focused on giving you tough obstacles to cross on a flat field. The least difficult race they have is the open one. 

How can you tell if you’re an intermediate? 

  • You’ve completed a beginner level course before and feel that you can take on tougher courses!
  • You workout 3 or more times a week. 
  • You can jog several kilometers without getting exhausted. 
  • You enjoy walking and hiking on trails in the woods! 

Ones for advanced levels that want a real challenge:

  • Spartan Super (8 Miles): Think of the Spartan 5k, but 5 times harder, that’s the Super. 
  • Spartan Beast (12-14 Miles): This one is the beast, but several miles longer and about 5 or more times harder than the 5k!
  • BattleFrog Elite (16K) or Xtreme (tests how many laps you can complete in 24 hours).

You still cross the same obstacles in these events as you do in the intermediate versions of them, but they are just much longer and that length is the main difficulty. 

How can you tell if you’re advanced and ready for these events?

  • You’ve completed at least 1 beginner level race and feel like you can easily do 2 laps of them or more.
  • You’ve completed at least one of the intermediate ones but felt it didn’t take you far enough.
  • You have very strong resilience.

These races combine different elements that test you: There’s the length of the race, there’s the difficult obstacles, there’s also the weather, the woods, and getting wet and dirty, all of which really tests you.

It may take you at least 5 hours to complete one of them and in the case of BattleFrog Xtreme, 24 hours! Do not do these courses unless you’ve been through one of the lesser difficult ones at least once and are in GREAT shape.

Also there are events held in similar types of levels for children (3 of them).

list of mud runs

What is the hardest mud run I’d recommend?

At this point, it’s probably going to be the Spartan Ultra Beast (or the 24 hour Tough Mudder). Just because the challenges are themselves are so tough, as is the terrain and distance. 

Before you go that far, know your physical level first and have at least a few easier races done so you know the intensity and what to expect. People do get injured and hurt when they aren’t prepared for these events correctly. 

Be sure to pick a team you’re happy to go with:

You never want to do these races alone and having 1 or a few friends with you can be great, but what if there’s 2 of you, and you’re in good shape, while your friend isn’t or you have a team where 1 person is either too advanced and being slowed down by everyone or you have someone that isn’t in shape and is also slowing down the rest of the team?

In these situations you all have to get together before you pick out a race and decide each of your fitness levels and then correspond to which events fit you best. If you’re all at different levels but most of you are around a beginner area, do one of the beginner races.

If you’re the person whose advanced in that group, you can make the course more fun by doing every challenge in the most difficult way possible to make it more exciting for you. 

In the Warrior Dash for example, there’s a monkey bar area where you have a net that you can balance on while going through it and it gives most beginners help (usually on those obstacles, you have to hang on it), but if you’re advanced, don’t use the net, just go through the bars only using your hands.

There’s plenty of obstacles that can be “modified” on the types of races that may not be challenging for you to make it more challenging. 

If it’s the other way around and you have a beginner or a few with you on something like the Spartan Race, even the 5K, be prepared to either:

  1. Be constantly stopping and helping them. 
  2. Keep waiting on them while they’re running through.
  3. Just decide that you’re all headed at your own pace and divide up if necessary.

You always want to compete in the tougher courses with people that will be able to work and run together well. And you always want to be in the easier courses with people that just want to explore this world of mud running. If everyone’s general level is around the same, you’re all going to enjoy it much more as a group!

How to Train For a Mud Run to be Ready For it!

I’ve seen some people go through mud runs like it was nothing. I have also seen a lot of people almost pass out on them because they didn’t know how to train for them.

how to train for a mud run

In the above picture, I was going past a new obstacle in the Spartan Race called the Bender. It required balance and mainly upper body strength, but because there’s such a wide range of obstacles that require different training regiments and so many different events, what is the right way to train for these events?

There are a few ways actually and we’ll cover them, but I’ve done these runs with different people and all of them had different ways they were preparing for them and it also happens to be that there’s different levels of difficulty for mud runs too, so naturally, the harder it is, the better you’ll need to train for it (I’ll give you my experiences training for easy and hard ones).

The good news is that the training regiment I’ll give you will help you complete most if not all the different types of mud runs there are out there. But first, let me explain that to come up with this list of training methods, my teammates and I had to figure it out and we made mistakes…

Let’s look at how my teammates and I trained for the different events we did:

One of us would go to the gym a few days a week, lift basic weights and use the treadmill. I did 2 races with this man: MudmanX and a 5K Spartan Run. How did he do on each race day?

Not very well…

Not only did he look exhausted before finishing the first kilometer in each run, but he also had to stop frequently to catch his breath. On the 5K, he asked us to go ahead while he finished the course at his own pace and he did, but we had to wait for him for a bit. MudManX he was able to finish as well, but that one was significantly easier.

Another one of our team members ran the 8 mile Spartan Race. He mainly prepared by doing long jogs and riding his bicycle long distances. How’d he do? 

Very well on just about every single obstacle and the whole course, except the areas which required him to use his upper body strength. 

My cousin who was also a member practiced by being on a swim team. We also did the Spartan Race with him. 

He completed the whole race and almost every single obstacle. He even did about 100 burpees along the way on the obstacles he didn’t finish. The only problem he had was a cramp which hit him around mile 4. 

The one member besides myself who has been present in every race is my uncle. His preparation consisted of doing post work jogs and attending cross fit classes a few times a week. Out of all our members, he was the one who was able to finish every race and feel great. On the Spartan Super, he was the one who didn’t have any post race day injuries or sore muscles. He did also get a cramp like my cousin. 

And finally, the last member was myself. To prepare, I actively do martial arts and I felt this would be enough. I don’t do much weight lifting other than when I wrestle, but that’s people, not weights. I also do upper body exercises a lot. 

On all the races except one (The Spartan Super), I completed them easily and felt like I could go through another lap. But the Spartan Super was the one which showed me I needed to add more variety to my exercises:

I needed to do more squats. Because I have knee problems, I avoid them, but uphill hiking was part of the races. Also carrying large weights was difficult for me because I wasn’t used to doing it.

Which training regiment worked best?

I wrote that in order to beat the toughest mud runs requires that you’re able to do these 10 different workouts. We’ll see how many of these workouts my team and I did and you’ll see that it directly related to how well we did!

As you saw, everyone except my uncle seemed to have holes in their regiments. 

  • For our first member, he just was not prepared at all. Out of those 10 workouts, he might have had 2 or 3. Gym training and training outside are very different things. Jogging on a treadmill is a lot easier than jogging outside, and certainly much easier than jogging through obstacles. Weight lifting prepared him for carrying things, but none of his workouts prepared him for the cardio you need.
  • Our other member, because of his good cardio from jogging and bicycle riding, was fine on the cardio end, but when it came down to strength exercises and obstacles he suffered. Out of the 10, he had about 4. His cardio was the biggest reason he finished the course.
  • For my cousin, he seemed to do very well because of his swimming history. Swimming is a great workout because it trains every part of your body. Of the 10, swimming is not on the list, but because it trains the whole body, you can become good at it. I figure he had about about 8 or 9.
  • My uncle had 9 or 10 because cross fit happens to have a big diversity in workouts and many of them were similar on the runs we did, except they were dirtier. 
  • For me, I had about 7 or 8 (good cardio and upper body strength mainly) but it was squats and weight lifting that I suffered in. 

You need 5 different types of physical attributes to complete these events:

  • You need to have good cardio.
  • You need have decent strength training abilities. 
  • You need to do weight lifting. 
  • You need to be able to withstand long hikes (especially with Spartan Races like the Beast).
  • And you need to be able to do all of them in a training session and for a long period of time, at least a few hours. 

The 10 workouts I’ve covered above are going to help strengthen those 4 attributes. 

Are there any exercise programs that’ll help with mud runs?

Yes, if you can find any kind of program that covers at least a few of the required workouts, you should do them. Here are a few exercise programs that are excellent:

Crossfit, Insanity, Mixed Martial Arts, Swimming classes and Kettlebell classes. 

Mud runs require that you have all areas of your physical preparation down and those programs help. There is a lot of diversity in these events where if you only practice one kind of workout, you won’t be prepared for another.

For example, if you just practice jogging, know that mud runs will not have you do it on concrete where you’re used to it, but through hard areas and keep making you work different muscles. The more you practice different exercises and get used to mixing and being comfortable with them, the better your whole body will build. 

And always start your training months before a mud run takes place. You need time to get used to the intensity.

Physical abilities are good, but you also need gear to compliment that:

Why? Because being strong is good, but it won’t help you if you slip. Wear stuff that’ll protect you from that and help your strength work for you. When I switched to the sneakers I still wear for my mud runs, the difficulty in hiking and bypassing the obstacles was significant and I saved a lot of energy because I was MORE comfortable.