Strength Training with Steven Shade
For the past four months, several beginners to obstacle course racing have been strength training with Steven Shade at SHAPE in preparation for Tough Mudder Chicago in May of 2016. Don’t let the name “OCR Training” confuse or discourage you — it’s basically a terrific full-body workout that benefits anyone wanting to get stronger, burn calories, and trim unwanted pounds. You don’t have to plan to participate in an obstacle course race or even have an interest in ocr to get a lot out of these challenging but do-able circuit training sessions.
Steven has participated in numerous obstacle course events and trail runs over the past few years, and does an excellent job of designing strength training classes that will build not only our endurance, but our upper body and grip strength as well. Each workout is a different combination of exercises that usually incorporates push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a plank of one variety or another, and lots of bosu-based routines to improve our balance. Cardio rotations are an integral part of each session as well.
Steven is always incorporating new exercises into our routines to keep them interesting and challenging. Here he is demonstrating how to do a v-up with the TRX while balancing on a bosu ball. I love that we never know what he might throw at us. My “fitness personality” functions better when I can’t anticipate what the workout entails and therefore can’t talk myself out of it, as awful as that sounds.
Here’s Brett doing the bosu ball v-ups with the TRX. When you bring your legs up, you take your arms wide with the TRX all while keeping your core tight as you balance on the bosu ball. It looks complicated but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. I promise. And that’s the cool thing about these workouts . . . it doesn’t matter if you’re new to working out or a seasoned veteran. Steven will meet you where you are and make the session suitable for your needs.
Steven’s strength training exercises on this particular day involved, among other things, two “burnout stations” as he so fittingly referred to them. We had to do three exercises at each one in a specific order, executing as many reps as possible. The first station started with chest presses on the bench using a 45-pound plate to failure, then chest presses with a 25-pound plate to failure, then as many overhead presses as we could do, and finally as many push-ups as we could do.
In between the two burnout stations we could choose between the TRX v-ups, 30 sit-ups, or 30 hanging leg lifts. There was also the dreaded running of laps around the building (3 to be exact, so about .6 miles — not bad unless you are not a runner aka ME!) and three army crawls down and back along a long series of floor mats. Army crawls catch up with me QUICKLY. It’s amazing how army crawls affect your entire body, and even get your heart rate up. I’m always surprised by routines that don’t initially strike me as involving cardio, and all of a sudden you’re completely out of gas. Army crawls are one of “those” routines.
The second burnout station in this strength training session was for our backs. We had to start with unassisted pull-ups if we could . . . and I could not. So I jumped straight to assisted pull-ups and thank goodness for that green band. If you are not familiar with assisted pull-ups, imagine a gigantic rubber band strapped to a bar. You put one foot in the loop at the bottom of the band and wrap the other foot behind your heel, and execute your pull-up. The band allows your own body weight to assist with the pull-up. This is one of the hardest exercises for me. I am seriously lacking in the upper-body strength department, but can tell I’m getting incrementally better. So we had to do as many of the assisted pull-ups as possible, followed by lat pull-downs on the Smith machine.
There’s Whitney making the lat pull-downs look like a breeze. That’s me in the photo above trying to fake my way through some pull-ups. Pull-ups are a brain game for me. Speaking of obstacles! But, I’m going to keep plugging away and maybe by the time May rolls around I’ll be the pull-up queen. We can always dream!
SHAPE offers several Obstacle Course Race (OCR) Training sessions to choose from. Remember, they are just like high-intensity interval training — a great workout incorporating strength training and cardio so you’re burning calories all day long. Aimee Flint teaches 60-minute OCR sessions on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m., and Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. Steven Shade‘s 30-minute sessions are offered Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. and Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. Please join us, and try your first class free.