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For all the challenges of an obstacle course race—miles of running, fire pits, soaking-wet cargo nets—it’s easy to overlook one of the basic movements in the repertoire: crawling. Big mistake, says American Ninja Warrior turned professional obstacle course racer Kevin Bull: “A lot of people slow down when they get to that point of the course,” Bull says. “But you’re going to be tired, and when you lie down on the ground, it’s a pretty big incentive to not go fast.”
Go flat on your stomach. As you crawl, rotate your knees out so your hips can hug the ground as close as possible. Push the insides of your feet into the ground—especially if you’re climbing an incline under barbed wire. If you’re going down a hill, though, swim through the mud “almost like a freestyle stroke,” Bull says.
Practice crawling with your eyes closed. In Bull’s first race, simulated rainfall splashed mud into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. He navigated by grabbing the shoe of the person in front of him— but, as he points out, “there might not always be a shoe to grab.” As a last resort, you can try rolling through the mud. Bull’s done it when too exhausted to crawl. “I must’ve gotten 50 burrs in me doing it that way,” he says, laughing. “But when you’re that tired, you’ll take what you can get.”
Get on your hands and knees. Lift your knees 2 inches above the ground, making sure your entire back is flat. Without arching or rounding, crawl forward using the opposite arm and leg. Try to make it 10 meters.
Start in a plank position. Bring your left foot to the side and up as close to your hand as possible. Walk both hands all the way forward and back into a plank position, bringing up your right foot. Go for 15 meters.
Do 10 pushups—but at the very bottom of each rep, strafe to the right, left, front, and back.