Last week I dropped into B3 Gym in Gainesville, Florida to meet with owner and head trainer Chris Marhefka to get some training tips for completing my personal arch-nemesis obstacle, Sawtooth.
In the video, Chris shows me how I can use pull ups, dead hangs, one handed hangs, fat grip progressions, and other training techniques to conquer Sawtooth and other upper body strength oriented obstacles.
Oh! And I should mention that I hit a dead hang PR in this video (1:21). Haha!
Chris Marhefka is the founder of B3 Gym in Gainesville, FL and co-founder of Eat the 80, a healthy meal delivery service in Florida. He has worked with more than 2,000 clients and has 10+ years experience as a personal trainer, CrossFit instructor, and nutrition and lifestyle coach. He holds a Certified Personal Trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine and is a CrossFit L1 and L2 certificate holder.
One of my deepest secrets is that I can’t complete Sawtooth. That’s right, the founder of Savage Race can’t complete one of his own trademark obstacles. I’ve had eight years to do it, and every time I try, I end up falling in the drink.
A few months ago, I decided that 2019 would be the year that this would change. I know that conquering Sawtooth will require hard work and dedication. The two biggest factors keeping me from successfully completing Sawtooth are 1) I am overweight, and 2) my upper body is not strong enough. Both of these issues will need to be addressed to enable me to accomplish my goal of defeating Sawtooth.
Being overweight makes obstacle course racing a lot harder. The way I think about it is that for every extra 10 pounds of fat on my body, I might as well be wearing a weighted backpack filled with 10 pound plates. To address this issue, I’ve been eating clean for the past few months. I follow a Paleo-ish diet, and I’ve experimented with intermittent fasting and ketosis too. I’ve found that if I limit my carbs to 50-100 grams per day, I can steadily lose weight, and it really doesn’t require a lot of effort or will power. Another tactic that works well for me is to challenge my friends to weight loss and fitness challenges. Savage Co-founder Lloyd Parker and I both lost about 30 pounds in three months participating in one of these challenges. So I’m down 30 pounds, and have about 15 to go. I think I’m on track in the weight loss department.
To address the strength issue, I’ve been hitting the gym to get stronger. I have a great garage gym at my house that makes it easy for me to get the work in. Even more important, is good programming, so I hired a remote coach, Sean McGovern to create an individualized training plan for me and to hold me accountable. Following Sean’s plan, which is specifically tailored to help me reach my goals, I’ve been breaking PRs in the gym that I haven’t come close to in eight years. So I think that I’m on track in the strength department, too. If you think that having a remote coach could be a good fit for you, I highly recommend you contact Sean.
Just before his 16th birthday, Luis Santana was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his left leg. His dreams of getting a wrestling scholarship to Ohio State were put on hold as he spent the next seven years wrestling cancer instead.
It came back three times, advancing further and further up his leg each time. At 19 years old he was told that amputation was the only option to save his life. But his doctor didn’t give up and they tried a new form of radiation therapy. At 23, his prayers were answered and he was completely cancer free.
“I fought depression, anger, and spent many months alone not wanting to be close to anyone fearing I could die at any moment,” remembers Luis. “Without my faith in God and my family to support me, I wouldn’t be alive today.”
For many Savages, the most daunting obstacles on our course include Colossus, Wheel World, Sawtooth, Pipe Dreams, and The Great Wall. So what do they all have in common?
Well, aside from having the lowest completion rates of all our obstacles, they each require tremendous upper body strength to conquer.
You may be able to jump straight off the couch and dominate Davy Jones’ Locker, Shriveled Richard, and many other Savage Race obstacles. But when it comes to the big obstacles that require both upper body and grip strength to tackle, training is key.
Here are five pull-up variations (from most to least challenging) that will help you strengthen your upper body and conquer more obstacles the next time you come out to race.
The days are growing shorter, the snow is beginning to fall, and the holiday season is upon us.
Wintertime usually brings less activity, more socializing, and a lot more food. From Thanksgiving dinner to drinks and hors d’oeuvres at holiday parties to comfort foods on chilly days, it can be easy to over-indulge and neglect training during this time of year.
We’re all about enjoying this season and everything that comes with it, but we also know you’ve worked really hard to improve your health and fitness over the past 11 months and we don’t want you to lose all the progress you’ve gained.
So read on for tips on staying balanced during the holiday season, brought to you by NuAquos – the official sports drink of Savage Race.
Hey Dallas, it’s race week! Are you ready to conquer the world’s best obstacles?
You’ve been running, lifting, and training. You’ve (hopefully) skipped the sugary desserts and the beer. You’ve counted down the days, and now it’s time.
We want to make sure you’re at your very best on race day, so read on for five steps that will prepare you for an epic mud run. And if you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time! Learn more and sign up here.
It’s the end of August and in most parts of the US summer is still in full swing. 95 degrees (feels like 105) with 100% humidity? Yep, that’s us at Savage Race HQ in Orlando, Florida!
Training through the hot summer months can be challenging, but it can also help prepare you to crush your next mud run. The physical and mental endurance required to push through uncomfortable summer conditions will make you stronger on the race course, but it’s also critically important to take care of your body when exercising in hot, humid conditions.
Ahhhh… ripe, juicy, slightly-sweet and oh-so-refreshing watermelon.
The delighted laughter of kids playing in the sprinklers. The smell of burgers on the BBQ grill. The setting sun and the boom and crackle of fireworks in the sky.
Happy 4th of July!
As you enjoy this Independence Day weekend with your friends and family, we want to give you two simple recipes that will help keep you hydrated during the heat of the summer.
With completion rates as low as 20% for some of Savage Race’s most challenging obstacles, and the introduction of new obstacles this year such as Teeter Tuber and Wheel World, we know you’re looking for ways to improve your chances at successfully completing all obstacles on the course.
Core strength is a key to conquering most (if not all) obstacles on any mud run course. Check out these three core workouts that will improve your obstacle completion rate, brought to you by NuAquos.
Endurance training is a huge part of preparing for a mud run, and so is general strength training. But one thing that you don’t want to neglect is training your grip!
Picture this: You’re cruising right along at Savage Race. You conquer some obstacles. You get a little (or a lot) muddy, and you’re soaked from head to toe. You’re feeling pretty confident. Suddenly, you round the bend and there looms Sawtooth. It’s a 35-foot span of monkey bars with a gnarly tooth in the center, and failure means a 10 foot drop into muddy water below. Are you ready?
Hey Savages! We know you’re busy and that finding the time to train for your next Savage Race can be tough. We want to help you out, so here are five more mud run training workouts that you can do on your lunch break – no equipment needed.
(Check out the first five workouts we shared with you here.)
Remember, although you probably can jump off the couch without any training and complete a Savage Race (with the support of everyone around you, of course), we don’t actually recommend it! Training properly will allow you to get out there and conquer the world’s best obstacles at Savage Race and have a ton of fun while you’re doing it.