The wildly popular participatory sport of obstacle course racing (aka OCR) threw a curve ball at millions of athletes and coaches. Before OCR came along millions enjoyed participatory sports like road and trail running, triathlons, and various others. OCR jumps on the scene full force in 2011 and becomes popular to millions across the globe while also creating the need to place a big emphasis on full body functional strength training. People have fallen in love with the sport, but they also find themselves wanting to learn how to conquer the obstacles that have been causing them failure.
One very specific area of training has provided the biggest obstacle conquering gains. I’m speaking of grip and pull strength and grip and pull strength endurance. This is the single most important training area when it comes to tackling more and eventually all obstacles out on course.
As a coach to many of the best athletes in the sport of OCR, I find myself building workouts with traditional fitness training tools we’ve used for years. In the video attached to this blog post, you’ll find me making slight adjustments to traditional kettlebell movements that can add up to make a huge impact on your grip and pull strength.
I’ll break down one of the movements to further explain how it can create a great grip strength training movement vs. doing the movement in a traditional manner. The alternating hand side to side row could be compared to a bent row where we would normally complete a set by doing a certain number on one side then switching to the other side. By switching back and forth every rep as well as adding the squat and side to side squat jump, we create a full body exercise while challenging grip strength by switching hands every rep.
I recommend you add these kettlebell exercises to the end of your planned workouts 3-4 times a week. Just looking at the last example, let’s say we did just the side to side row exercise 3 times a week for a year. By switching hands every rep, we open and close the hands 8,424 times vs. just 1,872 when doing all reps on one side then switching to the other side. I’m guessing you know which method will develop great grip strength over the course of a year.
Perform this circuit for 4 – 6 sets, decreasing the total reps each time.
Start with 14 reps of each exercise, then decrease by 2 each round.
1. KB Swing to Thruster
2. Side to Side KB Row
3. Side to Side Squat Jump with KB Row
4. Hip Circles