When was the last time you tried something that scared you? That challenged you physically and mentally, so you could emerge feeling stronger than ever?
That’s what the Spartan Race is all about.
But if you’re familiar with the gritty courses filled with mud, hills and obstacles like the barbed wire crawl and rope climb, you know you can’t cross that finish line alone. To get you there feeling tough, capable and proud, we present: The Daily Burn Spartan training program, now available to all Daily Burn subscribers.
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Daily Burn Spartan: How It Makes You Stronger
We could describe what you might encounter at your first Spartan Race — but that’s almost beside the point. Being Spartan-ready means being ready for, well, just about anything.
“There’s always something new to surprise you — that’s the beauty of the sport,” says Kevin Donoghue, a Spartan elite athlete, Spartan SGX coach and head trainer for the Daily Burn Spartan program. “Even if it’s the same course, it changes from day to day.”
The Daily Burn Spartan program follows suit, offering six weeks’ worth of workouts that get your body moving in new and challenging ways. Designed to help anyone improve athleticism, build fitness and enhance muscle endurance, Daily Burn Spartan gets you ready to take on life’s toughest obstacles, whether that’s on the course or not. And while the workouts are difficult enough to get you out of your comfort zone, they’re still easy to scale to your skill level.
During each workout you’ll build strength to dominate rigging obstacles (think: improving shoulder mobility and grip strength), nail a rope climb and cover carry challenges and crawling obstacles (crab walks, bear crawls and Spiderman push-ups, FTW). You’ll also work to conquer traverses and the Hercules Hoist, a core scorcher.
“These workouts are so complementary to what you would do in a Spartan race, other than actually being on the rope or swinging on the rigs,” says Donoghue. “You have days when you’re doing Tabata, when it’s forcing your heart rate up and down. And then you have a workout that’s more strength-based, with longer rest periods between exercises. You also have some that are more endurance-based that slowly gas you,” he explains. “And that’s what training for an obstacle race is really all about — having these different degrees of fitness.”
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Meet Your Daily Burn Spartan Trainer
An OG of Spartan finishers, Donoghue has always made fitness a priority. He grew up participating in sports and after college, played semi-pro football. When his days of throwing and tackling ended, Donoghue turned to running to stay in shape — and we’re not talking a few casual miles here and there. A testament to how he goes all-in, he signed up for ultramarathons, meaning any distance greater than a marathon and often on rugged terrain.
But Donoghue knew something was missing from those countless miles he clocked. “Running those distances and training for them gets very isolating,” he says. “It’s a very introverted sport…you’re kind of on your own most of the time. And I’m a very extroverted person.”
In 2011, Donoghue found what he was looking for when a friend introduced him to Spartan. With a race in Tuxedo, NY (not too far from his hometown), he decided to give it a shot. His reaction: love at first rope climb.
“I was 36 years old and thought, ‘Where has this been my whole life?’” says Donoghue, who has now completed more than 100 races, often placing in the top 10. “It was a complete rush of adrenaline. I’m not the fastest runner in the world; I’m certainly not the biggest or strongest. But I do have a very, very solid base of athleticism in multiple areas. I’ve always been a jack of all trades.” The sport felt like his calling.
During that first race, Donoghue had to run through thorn bushes and drag crates full of rocks. Even more intense, he had to run over burning charcoal — a “human barbeque” as he calls it. (Don’t worry, that obstacle doesn’t exist anymore.) Despite the crazy course, the race combined Donoghue’s passions for adventure, athleticism and community.
“[The race] drew me to it like nothing ever had,” he says. “It had the adventure. It had the edge. It had the cardiovascular output where it forced you have to really dig down deep and find something in yourself.” Donoghue says the race also tested different areas of his fitness — endurance, agility, upper and lower body strength and the ability to think on the fly to figure out how to make it over every barrier. “But what I wasn’t expecting was the camaraderie,” he says. After that first day out in the woods, Donoghue loved how so many participants hung out in the post-race tents, swapping stories about their experiences.
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The rest, as they say, is history. “I’ve found a sport that I’m able to support myself with, make a tremendous amount of friends, and connect with people all over the country and the world,” says Donoghue, now a co-owner of Organic Fitness in Chester NY, an obstacle course training facility.
Donoghue says he still has goals to achieve in the Spartan community, too. Next year, he aims to snag a record number of podium finishes. And he wants you to join in his quest to conquer the finish line with Daily Burn Spartan.
A Closer Look Inside the Program
Based on SGX, Spartan’s official training philosophy, the six-week Daily Burn Spartan program is broken down into two phases:
Whether you’re just getting off the couch or ready to increase your speed, you’ll use these two weeks to build a solid fitness base. The workouts — scheduled three days a week — focus on muscular strength and endurance to get you ready to tackle any heavy lifting or extended cardio sessions that come your way.
Get ready to turn the intensity up to high volumes. This portion of the program spans four weeks, with workouts scheduled four days a week. Designed to help improve your power, you’ll add to the progress you made in the first two weeks. Your motivation: Seeing the heavier weights you can lift and how you can squash a cardio workout without huffing and puffing.
Don’t let the beast mode in both phases intimidate you. You can tone down or amp up every exercise within the program. Each move has a beginner, intermediate and advanced variation, named after different Spartan distances: Sprint (a race that covers about three miles and 20 obstacles), Super (approximately eight miles, 25 obstacles) and for the powerhouses, Beast, which typically covers more than 26 miles and 60 obstacles. Just pick the right level of fit for you.
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In addition to modifying the moves, you can also switch up the equipment (and the weight) throughout the program. You’ll use dumbbells, a plyo box, dowel and resistance band. If you’ve already signed up for an obstacle run, consider getting your hands on a sandbag or bucket to really get a feel for race day.
The best part of the program: seeing your hard work pay off along the way. Plus the hardware (and serious bragging rights!) you’ll earn at the finish line.
“Every time you face an obstacle that scares you — whether it’s in life or on the course — use it as an opportunity to literally become the best version of yourself,” Donoghue says. “It’s an opportunity for you to be courageous; it’s an opportunity for you to be brave. And that’s what grit is all about. So find some grit, dig up some courage and come be the best version of you that you can be.”
Ready to get Spartan strong? Sign up here to get the Daily Burn Spartan program, FREE for 30 days PLUS 50% off your second month.
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