It’s pretty much the ultimate test for a Spartan: the Trifecta. Finishing a Sprint or Stadion, Super, and Beast or Ultra — all in one year — is a Herculean feat for sure.
The good news? We've got 3 epic Trifecta weekends coming up in 2023, so pick those dates and start training. It may feel impossible at first, but many Spartans have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to make their Trifecta dreams come true. There’s John Sanders, who completed his first at 14 years old. Lorraine Tobierre, a mom of seven, did it. So, too, did Georgie Ly, who has cerebral palsy. They are all esteemed members of the Trifecta tribe.
To help you train, we enlisted the help of SGX Coach Yancy Culp, a member of the Trifecta tribe and a true believer in the importance of loving the process.
To that end, he shared his insider Spartan tips for training your body and mind to build up the strength and endurance necessary to complete a Sprint (or Stadion), Super, and Beast (or Ultra) in the same year. His best advice for Trifecta hopefuls, though? “Fall in love with today’s workout," he says. "Don’t let your feet hit the ground when you get out of bed until you do.”
Don’t Be Intimidated
“If you can walk and breathe, you can finish a Sprint,” Yancy promises.
It may mean failing obstacles, having to take the penalty, and you may take three to four times as long, but you can do it — just like the over 7 million other Spartans who have. The first step is picking a date, signing up, and putting it on your calendar. Since you’re going for the Trifecta, you'll want to complete this race early in 2021, so you have time to train for the Super and Beast. Yancy swears that the moment you finish it, your confidence will go through the roof and you’ll be amped up to train for the next one.
Train for the Basic Obstacles
We’ve got workouts for days (months and years) when it comes to preparing for your first Sprint. What’s most important for a new Spartan is to practice these 10 exercises, avoid these common mistakes, and perfect your burpee technique. If there’s one thing we can guarantee, it's that you'll have to take the penalty at some point.
Gain confidence to go the distance
One of the key differences between a Sprint and a Super is the 3.1 to 6.2 mile jump. It might not seem like much from a running perspective, but as Yancy explains, you're doing that distance in what he calls "compromised legs." (Translation: his legs will be really fatigued from doing all those obstacles in between.) His recommendation is to train three to four days a week and make sure two of those workouts incorporate OCR strength training that exhausts the lower and upper body. body and core. That way, he trains his body to finish the distance even when he's fatigued.
Develop your grip and tensile strength
According to Yancy, there is one thing in particular that causes 99 percent of all obstacle failures: not being able to support his own body weight as he traverses them. The solution is to train your grip and pulling force as if his life depended on it. Hang on to things and get on things. His favorite exercise for this doesn't require any equipment - just lay a rope or towel on a horizontal surface, stretch halfway, and grab it, lifting off the ground. Your lower body will help you get the job done at first, until eventually you can reach and pull up using just your upper body.
Master the Twister with manual progressions
The Twister is new to Spartans doing the Super for the first time and has the highest failure rate. It also usually takes longer to complete. Grip and upper body strength are key to this obstacle.
Yancy suggests testing yourself by seeing how long you can hang from a bar after running on the treadmill for four minutes. He also wants to work on what he calls "hand position progression" so that he can get through the handles quickly. He can mimic the Twister with a normal chin-up bar, hanging from it and then reversing the position of the hand, progressing over time to patting the shoulders and then patting the hip.
"If you practice this three to four times a week, it will translate into the course," he promises.
Increase Your Distance With Elevation
6.2 miles to a half marathon is a pretty big distance jump, especially when you take into account the terrain of a Beast. If you don’t live in an area where there’s natural elevation, Yancy recommends training on a treadmill with an incline to mimic the various courses’ hills. You’ll want to do lunges and step-ups. or box jumps, in between on those days when you’re practicing a 15-to-20-minute climb on the treadmill, so your legs get used to going the distance when they’re fatigued.
He insists that you don’t need to run every day, though. Over the course of 14 days of training, you'll want to run the distance six to eight times. And again, make sure to work on OCR-specific strength training throughout.
Practice Those Heavy Carries
You likely will never "fail" at a heavy carry, but they will definitely slow you down if you don’t train appropriately. In addition to priming your body with inclined runs, Yancy recommends practicing carries on some of your running days. Carry a sandbag or a weighted bucket, or whatever you have to mimic the strain it will cause on your body. Increase the weight 20-30 percent over the course of your training in preparation for the Beast’s hills. This will cut down your time on the course and prepare you to handle the climbs and carries without "blowing up your calves."
Master the Tyrolean Traverse
Yancy has a super insider training secret to cross this epic obstacle off your list without getting a penalty. Get on top of the rope, so it’s supporting your bodyweight. Here’s how: One of your legs should be hanging down like a rudder in the water, with the other leg behind you — curled up — with your shoe resting on the top of the rope. That’s the driving force that helps push down the rope.
Push with your left leg while your right leg is resting, pulling yourself along the top of the rope. This creates a level of balance, so even if you have terrible grip strength, you can do it. (Another pro tip for the Beast Twister, which sometimes has three sections, is to move backwards so you can get across it faster.)
Make Your Grip Even Stronger
Yancy spills even more insider tricks when it comes to putting your grip strength into Beast mode. He strongly recommends practicing the farmer’s carry, because all you need is something heavy you can put in your hand. Every day, carry it for a longer duration, starting with 200 meters and working your way up to a mile.
“It will build insane grip strength endurance, fatiguing your forearms and turning your hands into vices,” he says. Work it into your training once a week and you’ll “go into cyborg mode over a three-month period.” Perfect for finishing that Beast and completing your Trifecta.