I saw this set up for the first time at the end of the notorious 2014 Spartan World Championship. Given it was the end of the race and my grip strength had seen enough, I immediately fell off.
The second encounter was the Montana Beast. Hopping on with cold hands at 7:30 in the morning didn’t prove to be successful either.
My third encounter at the 2015 World Championship got me to the end, however due to the traffic, I couldn’t grab the last bar.
As a result I was determined to come up with a strategy for 2016.
Number 1 – Improve your grip
Build up your farmer carries and work on performing dead hangs for at least a minute. Given that in most cases you will spend at anywhere at least 15-30 seconds on the rig, you need to have that reserve grip strength in case things do not go your way.
Although this will be the foundation of conquering this obstacle, we also have to keep in mind you will be swinging around from hand to hand. In order to develop grip strength while moving around try bouldering at you’re local climbing gym. The longer you can stay on the wall the better.
Another trick is to combine hanging exercises. My favorite being 5 pulls ups, followed by 10 toes to bar, then a transverse across a normal set of monkey bars.
Once you master your standard bar it’s time to introduce fat gripz. This piece of equipment will get you used to the width of the bars you will encounter at this years upcoming races. Perform all the previous exercises with the fat gripz around a standard bar and a set of dumbbells for your carries.
For techniques at the race try the following:
Standard monkey bar transverse, securing both hands on each bar before you move forward.
Jumping bars – a two hand launch, performed with a swing. Very risky on cold, or wet courses.
The side ways transverse, being the safest. This will prevent uncontrolled swinging which allows you to have a firm grip around the bar. You may have to swing depending on distance of some of the bars, however it will be minimal in comparison to facing the bars head on. Pull yourself up fast and reach with your dominant hand.
For an added challenge, submerge your hands in cold water for 30 seconds before you begin the exercises.
Josh Stryde is a Calgary based personal trainer and nutritionist operating out of World Health Edgemont and taking people through obstacle course specific training at Cor.Fit. He is competitive OCR athlete from the Western Canadian Spartan Elite team who is training hard for 2016 season. Follow Josh on Instagram at @stryde_ocr.