As OCR athletes we all know that training sport-related, functional and race based exercises will help on race day. No brainer on that one. However, what many don’t realize is that OCR at it’s core, makes you a stronger, more fit, and ultimately more awesome person than you were before. Not only does it create a stronger mindset – yes, it does toughen up even the strongest will when dunk wall water is ice cold – but, OCR training can (and will) have widespread impact on your day to day living.
Wanna be more awesome at doing basic daily things? Check out these five OCR based exercises and how they can help:
Ex 1: 10-10’s (Dead Hang > Pull Ups)
This exercise is pretty simple in concept, but can be quite challenging in practice. Basically, find a bar or doorway that you can comfortably do a pull-up on. Start by doing a full dead hang for 10 seconds – in other words, grab the bar and just hold you entire body elevated from the floor (if you need assistance you can use a stool or chair to support your legs a bit). Follow this by doing 1 full pull-up, with our without assistance. Repeat…10 times if possible.
So the sequence, would be dead hang (10 sec)/pull-up, dead hang (10 sec)/pull-up,…x 10 times, or as many times as possible. This ultimately can have significantly awesome results across many of your daily activities, as you’ll be building up your grip, back strength, upper body endurance, and core power.
Ex 2: Brick/Stone Hold
So you want “gorilla grip”? Solid grip strength is one of the more important functional necessities in both OCR success, as well as daily activity. With a good grip not only will rope climbs, tire flips or multi-rigs be far more bearable, but simple things like carrying groceries, luggage, laundry baskets (or children) will be a snap – not to mention opening jars of pasta sauce!
One sure-fire way to rapidly increase your overall grip strength is to find a medium sized object that you can wrap your open hand around and close all your fingers around pretty solidly like a normal size brick, stone or large coffee can. Make sure it isn’t overly heavy, because not only is weight important, but also endurance. Clamp your hand around the object and hold it alongside your body, as you stand upright. Clamp as solidly as necessary with ALL fingers and hold for 30 sec. Switch hands and repeat. Go back and forth with all fingers, and when you are comfortable try using only 3 fingers, 2 fingers or mix and match fingers (ie. pinky/forefinger, middle/index finger etc.). Eventually you will work up both time and weight…and your grip will become as strong as any non-human primate!
Ex 3: Farmer Carry
We see this exercise in many races and competitions across the OCR, crossfit and powerlifting circuit. It’s not surprising, as it is a basic movement and from it’s name alone implies pure function – lift something in each hand and carry it across a distance. Farmers aren’t know for their smooth, weak hands and this exercise is just one reason why. It pretty easy to “wrap” your head around, but will have huge impact at any OCR, shopping or luggage hauling event.
Try finding a couple bags, buckets, or baskets that are evenly weighted. Simply lift and walk as far as you can go. Turn around and walk back to where you started. Repeat 3-5 times. As you get stronger you will be able to increase weight and/or increase walking distance. Try alternating both to maximize your gains.
Tip: Make sure the handles are thick enough so that they don’t start to cut into your fingers. Even though you’ll be building up some good callouses, you want to work on strength as well without ripping any skin. Also, try to keep weights on either side balanced to limit the stress on your joints and back as you move. Changing up weights per side is a good challenge, but it’s something you want to work up to.
Ex 4: Bucket (or SandBag) Carry
A dreaded staple of many OCR events, the bucket carry is yet another exercise that although basic, has universal physical benefits. The act of picking up a weighted bucket or sandbag, holding it, and carrying it across a distance (usually up a very long hill and back), involves a complete range of body mechanics. Becoming a regular practitioner of this exercise movement will help to strengthen your legs, arms, grip, back and overall core – not to mention your will and determination!
It’s simple in concept, try filling a standard large paint bucket with as much sand or loose gravel as you can reasonably lift from the ground and hold. Carry it for as long as possible before you need to set it down. Mark the spot, and walk back. Repeat 3-5 times. As you get stronger you can either increase the weight of the contents or the distance. Alternatively, you can use a bag of sand, potting soil, pre-mix cement or anything that offers you a challenge to lift and carry.
Ex 5: Functional Clean & Press
The Clean & Press is a powerlifting/crossfit based movement that is a superb way of building overall explosive strength. In essence it involved two primary movements, the Clean and then the overhead Press.
To start, find a medicine ball, sandbag or something you can lift over your head fairly comfortably. Place it on the ground just in front of you and straddle it – offset slightly so it’s still in front of you. Squat down and grab it with both hands, “clean” it (lift it explosively to reside on your chest, bending you knees), then “press” it overhead, locking out your elbows as you are comfortable. You can either drop or place the object on the ground and repeat. Aim for 8-10 repetitions before taking a break, making sure you maintain your form on each one. Repeat for 3 sets.
Once you get the hang of the movement, you will be able to increase weight or reps. Over time, the explosive strength you will build to lift objects from the floor and overhead will translate into a stronger, more powerful and confident version of yourself!