In the past few years obstacle course racing (OCR) has gone from the obscure to mainstream to professional. Where once it was reserved for only the crazy diehards, now it seems as if everyone and their mother are signing up to crawl through mud, slither under barbed wire and scale over eight-foot walls.
With the dramatic rise in obstacle course race participation as well as the formation of pro teams and prize money, training has become much more integral. Unfortunately obstacle race training usually takes the form of running a few miles at the local park combined with endless amounts of burpees.
There are many types of obstacle races; all have a mix of standard and unique obstacles. Distances can range from 3K sprints up to 50+K ultras. Typical obstacles include wall and rope climbs, weighted carries and pulls, hill runs, monkey bar traverses and of course crawling, lots of crawling through mud and barbed wire.
Due to the variety of obstacles, terrain and distances training for a specific race can be challenging. Racers need a combination of power, endurance, agility and plain old brute strength.
A good training program should incorporate not only the most appropriate exercises for the obstacles but also the proper intensities to challenge the different energy systems. It also helps if training can be performed outdoors in the same type of environment as the race. This presents a problem when it comes to equipment.
Equipment needs to be durable and versatile enough for indoor and outdoor training, easy to transport to training location and suitable for the types of exercises or obstacles to be trained.
Enter the SteelBell® – one of the most intense, dynamic free weight training tools on the market.
The SteelBell is constructed of a super-durable neoprene disc filled with tiny balls of steel shot. It can range in weight from 5lbs for beginners up to a beastly 200lbs for the ultra-hardcore few.
All manner of traditional strength exercises performed with a dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball can be performed using a SteelBell. It can also be used for many explosive and power-based movements such as slams and tosses, as well as endurance-based exercises like farmer walks, carries, and my favorite; the slurpee.
Training with a SteelBell offers some unique advantages over some of the more traditional equipment.
Hand, wrist, and forearm strength is key in many OCR obstacles, from scaling walls to climbing ropes. One of the major training benefits of using a SteelBell is its effect on grip strength. Since they are no handles the user is forced to grab and hold the SteelBell giving the added benefit of some serious grip training during every exercise.
The SteelBell® is extremely versatile and durable making it a great training tool for both indoor and outdoor workouts. It is safe enough to slam, toss and drag on indoor flooring without damage, yet strong enough to take the same punishment outside in the mud and dirt.
Another advantage is how malleable it is. Unlike rigid cast metal free weights, logs or buckets of gravel, the SteelBell can mold to body shapes as the steel shot moves around. This makes it kinder to bony structures like shoulders, necks, and back during carries.
Also, that movement of the steel shot filling makes it a “live” weight that puts an extra challenge on the users stability and core strength.
Most importantly it is challenging. There are an unlimited number of exercises that can be performed using the SteelBell. It’s great for power and explosive training, raw strength, and endurance.
Hyperwear Director of Education