Tough Mudder Training: HHIIT (Homemade High Intensity Interval Training)

As you may know, I have gone a bit mental and signed up for the South West Tough Mudder. My judgement day is fast approaching (September 21st) so I am in the midst of my training plan.

Training for a marathon is easy. Run, run, don’t run, run a little further. Simple. This is a little different.

My weekly plan consists of eating clean (overnight oats, no-bake energy balls), 24 miles of cycling a week, a run (gradually increasing to 8 miles) and some interval training. My gym puts on interval classes, but seeing as I can do it for free on a nice village green outside my house, I’ve been using a homemade version made up of things picked up from the gym and my ex-PT brother-in-law.

So what is a HHIIT? First of all, it stands for Homemade High Intensity Interval Training. Second of all, it is a series of exercises whereby you bust your gut for 30 seconds for each one, without a break in between. Do them all once, then have a quick break. Do it again. And again. Then you’re done. Not only is it effective, but it’s also quite quick.


So, three sets of 30 seconds bursts of:

Stair Climbs
Hands on the floor in a press-up position, then bring one knee up to your chest/stomach, then the other, as if you were, you guessed it, climbing stairs.

These will be good for the 10-12 miles I’ll have to run.

Standing Knee Raises
Stand on the spot, raise one knee and twist to touch your opposite elbow with it. Drop the knee and do it with the other side.

These will be good to increase the range of motion in my legs and hips to try and counteract the impact of the distance and the obstacles.

Jump up, land, hands on the floor, fire your legs back. Pop them back in, stand up. Repeat. You’ll get 10 seconds in and think you can do them forever, then they’ll start working…

These will build up the explosive power needed to tackle the Dirty Ballerina.

Plank with Knee Raises
Get into the press-up position, then bring one leg up, like a dog cocking their leg… Bring it up as far up your side as you can. Then do the other side. The last set will feel like they take about 5 minutes.

They work your obliques something rotten, which will come in handy for the Trench Warfare and Boa Constricter obstacles.


Renegade Rows
These can also be known as Alligator Walks. Again, press-up position, with a wide hand stance. Lift your right or left hand straight upwards, like an alligator would walk. Get it? Do the other side.

These work your core and your obliques, so they’re good prep for Devil’s Beard and the wonderfully named Turd’s Nest.

Jump up and down. Done.

This is good for all round cardio and explosive power needed to get up/over things such as Everest and Berlin Walls.

Get into the press-up position. Do a press-up. Then do some more.

These will help boost arm and chest strength for Funky Monkey and Hanging’ Tough.

Stand up. Then act like you’re going to sit down, sticking your bum out a bit, stopping before your bum goes lower than your knees. Then stand up again. Carry on. Nearly there.

That old favourite, yup, the press-up position, then lift one arm, twist your upper body and turn so you’re pretty much sideways. Return back to the middle and do the other side. Well done. Only one more to go.

In that classic press-up position again, but this time, instead of being on your hands, move down on to you elbows with your forearms level with the floor. Keep your bum down and brace your abs. Hold it and keep your back straight. My back wants to break by the second attempt so they’re a good one to end on.

Both these and the Twists will help create a strong core and improve my balance for obstacles such as Twinkle Toes.

Now, you’ve tanked through them all, do it again, and again!

Now if I could only find some exercises to prepare me for Arctic Enema, Electric Eel and Fire Walker

I’m supporting Macmillan Cancer Support because everyone hates cancer and those suffering from it get some great support from Macmillan, so they deserve some more cash. If you fancy donating a few pennies you can at my JustGiving page.

Oh dear. I’ve signed up for the Tough Mudder.

Oh dear. Oh deary deary me. What have I done?

Usually this blog sees me trying nice things such as chocolates, wine or baby things. Not this time. This time it is different. This time it is an event. A crazy event.

It’s the Tough Mudder.


The Tough Mudder is a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces. It tests all-round strength, stamina and determination. I’ll be taking part in the South West version on September 21st.

Throwing yourself into a pile of mud with your mates sounds like a bunch of stupid fun but when you start looking at the obstacles (fire, ice, electricity) and the distance (10-12 miles) the reality soon hits you in the face like a belly flop into a dirty puddle. The Tough Mudder team claim that only 78% of entrants successfully complete each challenge and I have to sign a death waiver (a death waiver!) so you start to understand what faces me…

This is easily the hardest thing I have ever done (bar surviving at work on 3 hours of sleep after paternity leave). I did run the Bristol Half Marathon in 2009, but even then I did it in quite a slow time for someone of my age and fitness thanks to old man knees, so this is a big deal.

Because it’s such a big deal I’ve decided to give myself a reason for being so stupid: raising money for charity. I’m supporting Macmillan Cancer Support because everyone hates cancer and those suffering from it get some great support from Macmillan, so they deserve some more cash. If you fancy donating a few pennies you can at my JustGiving page – but I won’t hold it against you if you just say “good luck” instead.

To prepare for my big showdown I’ve started making sure I’m eating and training correctly. Thanks to my brother-in-law I’ve now got a calorie target and plenty of nutritional information on what is good to eat and I’m learning lots from a few books and blogs as well.

With that bit sorted, training is next. The past couple of weeks have been about ramping up the exercise to a full-blown training week: internal training Tuesday, cycle 12 miles Thursday and Friday and a run (increasing to 8 miles) on Sunday. That schedule starts next week for 10 weeks. Phew.

I’ll be posting a few updates every now and again and will also let you know how the big day goes, unless the death waiver comes in handy for Tough Mudder® Ltd of course.

Wish me luck.