Lady in late 30s, wishes to train for Spartan Race to compete in about two years (slow and steady wins the race)

Currently I can

  1. perform 108 Sun Salutations in one sitting (takes an hour)
  2. ride on Stationary Bike at maximum tension (that I can tolerate) for about an hour
  3. jog in apartment for an hour
  4. max pushups I can do is 2 sets of three
  5. lift 5lb leg weights (various exercises, currently 2 sets of 3 reps)
  6. lift 8lb free weights (especially trying to strengthen deltoid)

I tried Burpees and for past few days can manage to do Level 3 burpees, 2 sets of 3 reps

I wish to work myself up to Level 5 burpees, i.e. including push-up and jump-up.

How many Level 3 Burpees should I comfortably do before I attempt Level 5 burpees.

Or should I attempt Level 5 burpees right away, even if it's only one or two per day.

And how many Level 5 burpees should I do per day to give strength and endurance for successfully competing in Spartan Race or in general?


  • I updated question
    – Rhonda
    Mar 14 '17 at 2:20
  • I'm voting to re-open provided the question is "what preparation and fitness level is required to be able to complete a 'Spartan Sprint' obstacle run". Burpees are part of Spartan races as they are the failure penalty so one could draw up a minimum fitness capability.
    – John
    Mar 14 '17 at 9:41
  • @JJosaur See question title, please re-open
    – Rhonda
    Mar 14 '17 at 15:21

The Run:

The Spartan Sprint race is 3+ miles and 20 obstacles. Compared to similar obstacle runs they run quite short with a less focus on running and more on the obstacles blocking your path.

With that in mind, you should be able to run 3-5 miles comfortably.

The Obstacles:

The race organisers don't release a full list of all the obstacles but do provide a breakdown of the standard obstacles that you will need to complete to progress. If you fail to complete a obstacle you will be required to complete a number of burpees before you can continue the race.

We strongly discourage skipping obstacles without attempting them, as it is unfair to others that do attempt them. Plus, aren't the obstacles the point of doing an obstacle course race?

However, if you attempt an obstacle that you simply cannot overcome there is a mandatory set of burpees that you must complete before moving on. This is the case with ALL obstacles. That can add up to a lot of burpees - so try hard to complete those obstacles.

Here is a video of the burpee you need to complete. It aligns to the level 5 on your question. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4C_dYKzMAI

Spartan Race FAQ: https://spartanrace.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202334438-Can-I-skip-an-obstacle-Is-there-a-penalty-

For a full obstacle guide go here: https://www.spartan.com/en/race/race-types/race-types-overview?article=31569#survival_form

Atlas Stone

A round concrete ball, slightly larger than a basket ball and probably around the 20kg mark (does not clearly state weight but looks like that weight based on my experience of stones).

  • Pickup the stone at start flag.
  • Carry it to the opposite flag
  • Put stone down
  • Do 5 Burpees
  • Return Stone to Starting flag

This event requires you to be able to perform the 5 burpees as well.Failure penalty is 30 burpees.

To practice for this I would suggest grabbing a big, heavy, awkward object (medicine ball works well) and trying to replicate the ~50ft there-and-back walk.

Barbed Wire Crawl

Does what it say on the tin, get on your belly and crawl under barbed wire. There is no failure penalty, you are disqualified if you cannot complete the obstacle.

To practice this, build up to sets of 50ft bear/belly crawl.

Bucket Brigade

Take a standard (solid) garden bucket and fill it with gravel. Now carry that gravel around a course (there will be a hill/slope) and back without putting it on your shoulders, head or neck.

If you fail the obstacle you keep repeating until you succeed.

Practicing this is pretty easy if you have access to gravel and a bucket. Otherwise practice carrying weight in the "hug" position.

Fire Jump

Jump over the fire or do 30 burpees. This is a mental challenge more than anything, you won't catch alight so just take a quick running jump. Try not to kick the wall of fire (around a foot high).

Not sure how you can practice this.

Hurc Hoist

A rope is attached to a weight and goes up and back down over a pully. You pull the rope to lift the weight up and then gently lower it back down. The weight is not insignificant.

Penalty for failure or dropping the weight is 30 burpees.

Practice by doing pulling movements in the gym any movement where you pull weight downward will be useful: lat pulldowns or pull ups or a similar machine.

Over and Thru

You jump over the wall, crawl under the second then pull yourself thru the third wall.

A local park may have obstacles that are helpful there to practice the movements on. Otherwise, practicing pull ups to help with first wall will be helpful potentially.

Penalty is 30 burpees.

Rope Climb

Start in a pool of mud and climb 16ft up a rope already covered in mud to ring a bell.

This is really hard. It required a technique to ensure you can hook and use your feet and it requires a lot of strength to hoist yourself up. Being on the lighter side of bodyweight so that your power-to-weight ration is good would help too.

As with a lot of the previous exercises, the failure penalty is 30 burpees and the best way to practice would be pull-ups and actually practicing the movement on a rope (your local crossfit gym might be able to help).

Spear Throw

This one is a bit of a gimmick, you throw a spear at a target. Sounds easy? WRONG.

This is actually very difficult to do technically well and you have to throw the spear very hard and very accurately.

Penalty (most fail) is 30 burpees.

Look up technique videos and start throwing sticks.

Transverse Wall

You work your way round a makeshift climbing wall sideways. Faster is better as your grip wont get tired.

Practice by doing this at a local climbing centre in their bouldering area.

Penalty is 30 burpees.

Tyrolean Traverse

This is as hard, if not harder, than the rope climb. A rope is stretched out over a body of water and you pull yourself along it to ring a bell at the end. Then you drop into the water and swim to the end.

Practice: Make sure you can swim a length or two comfortably. At this stage you will be tired so the swim should not be the obstacle.

Heck if I know how to practice the movement of crawling along a rope. This is a very hard movement. Being able to move your bodyweight and remain balanced is key.

Penalty is 30 burpees.

Wall Jump

Jump over a wall.

Practice this by jumping squats, jumping, pulling yourself up. A park near you might have a wall for practicing on. Pull ups are helpful.

Penalty is 30 burpees.


A bit of maths, at 20(+) obstacles with a standard of 30 burpees on each fail you could have to complete 500 burpees over the course of the run. The run is not timed and you may be able to complete the obstacles and thus prevent yourself having to do the burpees but be prepared for around 90-250 "level 5" burpees on the day.

I'd recommend doing level '5' burpees as soon as possible, building up to being able to complete 5-8 sets of 40 repetitions. Build it into workouts such as:

Cycle for 10 calories (@ max effort)
40 burpees
Cycle for 20 calories
30 burpees
Cycle for 30 calories
20 burpees
Cycle for 40 calories
10 burpees

Preferably you should be running instead of cycling. Cycling can help build your cardiovascular system but you will need to do some running to prepare.

I'd also recommend you should be able to comfortably complete at the very least 5 bodyweight pull-ups.

  • Those burpees mean business. Couldn't even do a single Level 4, let alone 5 today! Will build at Level 3 before to start.
    – Rhonda
    Mar 16 '17 at 0:24
  • BTW, I am finally able to do Level 5 burpee (with push-up and jump). 4 sets of 5 so far...
    – Rhonda
    Apr 1 '17 at 16:31

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