This Tough Mudder Workout Will Help You Power Through All Obstacles

People exercising in a park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The demands an obstacle course race places on the body are many and varied. You need to be fast and strong and have the stamina to endure miles of mud. A good Tough Mudder training plan will involve workouts that contain a variety of approaches to help you improve your fitness and strength.

This session from British Military Fitness instructor Harry Callaghan is a great example of how best to prepare for a Tough Mudder. It’s made up of three circuits that contain sprints, explosive bodyweight moves, strength exercises, and walking like a crab and crawling like a bear.

You need a 30m stretch up a hill for the workout, and make sure you complete a full-body warm-up before starting the session. Unless a rest period is specifically mentioned, aim to complete the exercises back to back.

Once you’re physically ready, get your kit sorted. Our guide to the best trail-running shoes includes picks for OCRs like Tough Mudder. 

Circuit One

1 Burpee

Reps 15

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, drop into a squat, place your hands on the floor and kick your legs back, landing in a high plank position. Jump your feet forwards, stand up and jump straight up, lifting your hands above your head. Land softly and repeat.

2 Press-up 

Reps 10

Start in a high plank position. Bend your elbows to lower your chest until it’s hovering just above the ground, then push back up.

3 Jump squat

Reps 5

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then sit your hips back and bend your knees to squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground, then drive through your heels to jump straight up. Land softly and repeat.

4 Bear crawl uphill

Get on all fours with your hips high and knees slightly bent. Crawl by moving the hand and foot on the same side of the body at the same time, so left hand and left foot, then right. Bear crawl up your hill as fast as you can.

5 Crab walk downhill

Once you reach the top of the hill, flip over so you’re supported by your hands and feet with your hips raised. Keep your hips up and scuttle downhill feet first. Move as fast as you can.

6 Bear crawl uphill

Back to being a bear to crawl back up the hill.

7 Jump lunge

Reps 20 each side

From standing, take a big step forwards and lower until your back knee is hovering just above the ground. From this position drive up into the air and swap the position of your legs so that when you land you can lower straight into a lunge with the other foot forwards.

8 Sprint down the hill

Get those aching legs moving again with a downhill sprint. 

Circuit 2

1 Sprints

Distance 100m Reps 5 Rest 30sec

Stick to flat ground for these sprints. Rest for two minutes after the last rep.

2 Backwards run uphill/crab walk downhill

Reps 5 Rest 90sec

Run backwards up the hill as fast as you can, then crab walk back down. Rest for two minutes after the fifth descent.

3 Squat

Time 30sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then sit your hips back and bend your knees to squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Drive through your heels to return to standing.

4 Pistol squat

Time 30sec

Stand on one leg with the other raised in front of you. Sit back into as deep a squat as you can manage – lift your arms in front of you to help your balance – then come back up to standing. Do 15 seconds of squats on one leg, then swap.

5 Squat hold

Time 30sec

Lower into a squat and hold for five seconds with your thighs parallel to the ground, then push back up.

6 Shallow squat

Time 30sec

Lower until your thighs are at a 45° angle to the ground, then stand back up.

7 Jump squat

Time 30sec

As above.

Circuit 3

  1. Burpee: Reps 20
  2. Bear crawl uphill
  3. Press-up: Time 30sec
  4. Crab walk downhill
  5. Jump squat: Time 30sec
  6. High knees: Time 30sec

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.

With contributions from