The SpartanStrong Workout

By Andrew Heffernan |

For the people who participate in Spartan Races each year, navigating mud pits, barbed wire, and log carries is a thrilling challenge that bonds them with fellow racers, exposes them to the grit and grandeur of nature, and lends purpose to their workouts, year-round.

“Spartan Strong brings the spirit of obstacle-course events into the fitness studio,” says trainer and Ironman athlete Alex Isaly, who co-created Life Time’s new Spartan Strong group fitness class and designed the following workout. “Just like on the race course, you’re moving from one exercise, or obstacle, to the next, pushing to the limit on each one. There are also times when you have to slow down and make sure you maintain enough energy to get to the finish. You have to dig deep and train smart.”

Whether you’re an obstacle-race veteran or a newbie exerciser with zero intention of ever toeing a mud-stained starting line, this workout is intended to push your physical and mental limits. It provides the intensity you need to conquer your first race, improve your time, or move your fitness to the next level.

The Workout

The following circuit is intended to help you perform better on the race course and in everyday activities. It ranges from medium to high intensity — but keep in mind that intensity is relative to individual fitness levels.

Trainers offer modifications in class; at home or in the gym, it’s up to you to pay attention to your body so you can ride the line between “just right” and “too much.” (Find pregressions — modified versions of each move — below to keep this workout safe and effective.)

•Perform each move for 60 seconds, aiming for as many good-form reps as you can in that minute. Try to keep moving; modify the moves and pace the reps as needed.

•At the end of each block (three minutes of work), take approximately 60 seconds to rest before moving on to the next block.

• For exercises calling for a weight, use a 10- or 15-pound sandbag. If a sandbag isn’t available, a dumbbell or kettlebell is fine.

•Complete the entire circuit twice, resting between blocks, for a 24-minute workout.

Block 1

Lateral Shuffle

  1. Continue the move for 60 seconds, changing directions every 20 feet.

Pregression: Step to the side instead of shuffling, aiming to engage your side-butt with each move.

Halo Chop

  1. Continue alternating directions for 60 seconds, and then move onto the next move.

Pregression: Perform only the halo, circling the sandbag around you while keeping your forearms close to your head.

Squat Jump

  1. Upon landing, squat down and immediately jump again.

Pregression: Perform step-ups onto a box, or body-weight squats without the jump.

Block 2


  1. Jump your feet toward your hands to return to the squat, then stand (or jump into the air), fully extending your hips and squeezing your glutes.

Pregression: Step your feet in and out of plank position instead of jumping them back and forth.

Crab Throw-Over

  1. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds.

Pregression: Remain seated on the floor as you rotate your torso to move the sandbag from side to side.

Lateral Lunge With Chest Press

  1. Alternate sides for 60 seconds.

Pregression: Limit how deeply you lunge to the side, focusing on engaging the glute of the lead leg and hold the sandbag at your chest throughout the entire move.

Block 3

High Knee Run

  1. Quickly run in place, driving your knees as high as possible.

Pregression: Limit the bounce in your run and focus on drawing your knees up in a march.

Alternating Row

  1. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds.

Pregression: Instead of resetting the sandbag on the floor and alternating sides, stagger your feet and perform 30 seconds of reps on one side, then switch.

Broad Jump With Shuffle Back

  1. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Pregression: Limit how far forward you jump, and walk back to the start instead of shuffling backward.

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