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A man powers through the 10,000-volt live wires hanging above him in the Electric Eel obstacle shortly before the finish line. Over 15,000 people signed up for the Mount St. Louis Tuff Mudder, a military-style obstacle course designed to test participants' endurance, strength and heart, on August 18, 2012.Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is

The question: I am thinking of signing up for a Tough Mudder this summer. What can I do at the gym to prepare myself?

The answer: Good for you! I have heard great things about Tough Mudders. Doing one is on my fitness bucket list.

What I love is that the race requires a unique combination of cardiovascular endurance, agility and strength.

Twice per week, do a workout in which you alternate intervals on the treadmill with strength and agility exercises. This type of training will prepare you to seamlessly alternate between the race's strength and cardiovascular challenges. Here's a sample workout:

  • Warm-up with 10 minutes of inclined walking or jogging on the treadmill.
  • Jump off and do a set of multijoint strength exercises. Good options would be squats, lunges, dead lifts, pull-ups and bent-over rows.
  • Try a personal favourite, a superset of pull-ups and squats! If you can’t do pull-ups, try negative pull-ups: Step on a chair to pull your chest higher than the pull-up bar. Slowly use your upper back and arms to lower your body down. Alternate five to 10 pull-ups with eight to 12 squats. Do three sets.
  • Then, hop back on the treadmill for a 10- to 15-minute jog or run. Incorporate three one-minute sprints.
  • Next, do a set where you alternate between a strength and an agility exercise. Try push-ups supersetted with cone hop-overs: Set up four or five cones (or another small item) and hop over all of them three to five times.
  • Do one last 10-minute stint on the treadmill. This time, throw in some incline running or walking.
  • Finish with a few core exercises (planks and side-planks), stretching and foam-roller work.

If you don't belong to a gym, skip rope or run outside instead of using the treadmill, and do strength exercises like squats in your living room. Once it is warmer out, alternate running outside with exercises like step-ups and dips on a park bench.

Trainer's tip: I am a big fan of spending one workout per week focusing on your weaknesses. If you have weak shoulders, strengthen your rotators and other postural muscles. Weak ankles? Dedicate a day to lower-limb stretching and strengthening. You are only as strong as your weakest link. The main takeaway: Train smart. Progress gradually. Don't get caught up in the excitement of the race. If you don't currently run, start by jogging or walking. Take adequate recover days, eat well, sleep, stay hydrated and stretch.