20 Tough Mudder obstacles and how to beat them

Your guide to the Tough Mudder obstacles

Tough Mudder is probably the toughest event in the world. That’s all thanks to the course that makes even the hardened soldier wince. Mudders will face an array of obstacles that will test them to their limits. Going in blind could be enough to bring you to tears. To help Mudders get through what’s probably the toughest obstacle course known to man, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest and baddest trials any Mudder can face, with vital tips on how to beat them.

Everest 2.0

Redesigned for 2015 - the classic Tough Mudder obstacle now includes a constant stream of running water on its quarter pipe slope, with a rounded top to make it that bit more difficult to grab a hold of. This obstacle is designed to exhaust and enrage participants.

Survival tip:

You’ll be glad you brought some buddies for this one. We suggest you make sure the strongest member of your team gets to the top first. This will mean you’ve got that little bit of extra help to get you up and over.

Arctic Enema 2.0

Love the thought of the sun on your face, with the warm caribbean sea lapping your feet? Well this isn’t like that at all. Arctic Enema - an ironic name given that it will have you clenching your cheeks at the prospect of sliding into ice cold water under a chain link fence, with only chunks of ice to keep you company as you swim through the pool.

Survival tip:

There is no set way to get past this obstacle, all we can say is do it as quick as you can! Once you get to the other side do some jumping jacks or some running on the spot to warm yourself up. Fail to do this and you could be jeopardising your whole run.

Electroshock Therapy

It sounds ridiculous, because it is. It won’t kill you, but it might hurt, which can be said for most of the course. Oh, there is one more thing, you’ll be wading through knee high mud and dangling wires carrying up to 10,000 volts, no biggie.

Survival tip:

Keep your eyes peeled for the hidden hay bales amidst the mud, one trip over those wiley blocks and you could be eating an electrically charged mud pie.

Funky Monkey

Those childhood memories will be a thing of the past after you’ve done monkey bars the Tough Mudder way. The bars are v shaped and ascend then descend as the obstacle goes on, but that’s too easy! Cue the mix of mud and butter that is smeared across the bars and the ice cold pool below, ready to catch the less grippy mudder.

Survival tip:

kick your legs hard to get momentum, this should help you get across quicker. Don’t stop to think between bars, your grip will succumb to the mud and butter. Hope for the best, it’s really potluck if you avoid the pool.

Electric Eel

Wriggle your way through an ice cold pool of blue water with electric wires dangling over your head. This obstacle will work your abs harder than any TRX machine. The vaults won’t cause you a lot of harm, but they will give you enough of a kick to make you scramble that bit faster.

Survival tip:

It’s called Eel for a reason! Slide from side to side with your head as low as possible, the lower you can keep your body the less likely you are to get shocked. Make sure you work those abs hard before event day, because you’ll really need them here.

Berlin Wall

Super tough, and super high, this 12-foot monster wall will be standing in your way when you are physically drained and mentally exhausted. Good job you brought those team mates with you.

Survival tip:

First job is to get a few people to the top. Pick the strongest, they’ll have a lot of lifting to do. After that you can give each other boosts up while the others lift you up from above. The final person in the team should take a run up and leap as high as they can, the others will catch them and up and over you all go.

Boa Constrictor

Claustrophobics, you’re going to hate this one. To beat this Tough Mudder obstacle you’ll have to face a labyrinth of pipes through which you must squeeze yourself through. But that isn’t tough enough, so the Tough Mudder engineers decided to throw in some ice cold mud for good measure.

Survival tip:

Don’t make the rookie mistake of trying to use your legs, they won’t help you. instead focus on reaching with your arms and pulling yourself through, you’ll feel the burn, but you’ll have the energy in your legs to keep you going when you get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

King of the Swingers

A new kid on the block this year. King of the Swingers is one of the funnest obstacles on the course. It requires mudders to take a leap of faith and reach for a rope swing dangling above a body of muddy water. Mudders must make sure they hold on long enough to reach for a hanging bell, indicating they completed the obstacle.

Survival tip:

This obstacle is all about grip and courage. Bring your gloves for grip and keep your nerve as you swing further over the muddy water below and you should find this obstacle a breeze. Use a pair of grippers during your training to strengthen your fingers, wrists and forearms, to help you survive this Tough Mudder newcomer.

Twinkle Toes

A log smothered in grease above an icy pond. Chances are you’ll be taking an ice cold dip while attempting this obstacle. Who knows where the Tough Mudder masterminds will place this bad boy, but it’s likely to be somewhere after another energy sapping obstacle.

Survival tip:

Follow the lead of some high wire specialists. Make sure your breathing is slow and steady, expanding your diaphragm will help you balance better, slowly place one foot in front of the other while looking straight ahead. You’ll be over that pool in no time.

Cliff Hanger

Demoralising if attempted on your own. You must climb up a 40-foot cliff of mud and filth. You’ll struggle to find any hand / footholds. Go it alone and you’ll find yourself getting 10, maybe 20-feet up the slope before sliding back down to the muddy pit that lurks below.

Survival tip:

Link hands with your team and spread out. Take it slowly one step at a time and remember it’s not about how fast you do this one, just the fact that you do get passed it.

Dirty Ballerina

Those who run wearing a tutu, we’re sorry but style alone won’t get you through this one. This obstacle calls on your agility and balance. your mission is to catapult yourself over four-foot wide deep muddy pits, all spaced closely together. Jump to far or fail to stop your momentum and you’ll find yourself wallowing in the mire waiting to be hauled to safety.

Survival tip:

Use your core to control your momentum. Make sure you take a deep breath before you jump and try not to lean back too much it’ll cause you to  lose your balance, and who knows where you’ll end up.

Dong Dangler

Just a heads up, it’s a wet one. Metal cables 10-feet in the air going across 70-feet of muddy lake. Make sure you don’t fall in, those who do receive a 5 minute penalty on the other side, which involves standing still in you soaking wet ice cold kit. A cake walk right?  

Survival tips:

This is why you brought your gloves. While other’s hands are getting numb grasping the cold metal wires, you can keep your grip. Also use your feet as anchors on the line and use your arms to pull you through.

Fire Walker

One of Tough Mudder’s poster boy obstacles. Beat the Fire Walker and you are a true Tough Mudder badass. It's not for the faint hearted though. You must run through kerosene soaked straw trenches that are on fire, with flames up to 4-feet high biting at your heels as you sprint through, and a thick smog surrounding you.

Survival tip:

You’ll need major lung capacity if you want to get through this obstacle unscathed. Train hard doing sprint sets (the longer the better) this will help your lung capacity grow. When you face the flames and smoke, your training should help you hold your breath for as long as possible. Those carcinogens won’t bother you!

Hangin’ Tough

Thought Funky Monkey was hard? Then welcome to hell. Same deal different apparatus. You have to swing your way over 25 feet of freezing dirty water, only this time you only have greased rings to hold on to. Fall into the water here, and you’ll be forced to endure a frosty five minute penalty on the shore.

Survival tip:

The key here is to take your time. Between your swings you’ll have a couple of seconds to choose your next ring before the grease claims your grip. Use these seconds wisely and plot your course step by step. It could save you a freezing five minute penalty.

Hold Your Wood

Time to show off those biceps you’ve been moulding in training. Put them to use carrying a big chunk of wood up and down a set of muddy hills. Try not to fall. This obstacle is all about upper body strength. Needless to say, your back, arms and shoulders won’t be your friends after you reach the end of this ordeal.

Survival tip:

Practice makes perfect for this one. Most mudders train by finding themselves a piece of wood not dissimilar to the size you’ll be carrying on your Tough Mudder challenge. Start training with it three to five times a week to get used to walking and running with it. If you really want mimicked conditions, wait until it’s rained on your plotted course.

Mud Mile

It’s actually only a quarter of a mile, but that’s where the good news ends. To beat this Tough Mudder obstacle you’ll have to wade through several waist high mud pits - each 15 yards wide. Once you get to the end of each pit, there’ll be a five foot high mud wall for you to scale, and the final stage will force you to crawl through a short area of thick mud, before you can be on your way.

Survival tip:

Lace up tight! This obstacle is a real sucker, literally. If your shoes aren’t on tight you will probably lose them, which will make the rest of your Tough Mudder a living nightmare.

Spider’s Web

Thought the Berlin Wall was high? Add another three feet and you can gauge the scale of the Spider’s Web. Made of steel cables that love to sway, it will force you to use every muscle in your body, in order to reach the summit and scale back down.

Survival tip:

Your best bet for beating this Tough Mudder obstacle is teamwork. The first climber will have the toughest time, but time it so that the second climber begins their ascent as the first descends and it will create an even pressure on the obstacle, which should lower the amount of sway. Repeat until you’re all up and over.

Trench Warfare

A battle for the mind as well as the body. Very claustrophobic, and very very muddy! Mudders will have to drop down into a mud pit before coercing themselves through a labyrinth of underground mud filled pipes twisting from left to right, before emerging into a muddy pit on the other side.

Survival tip:

The name of the game is team work, and it applies again here. It’s easier to maneuver through the tunnels as a team, giving hooraah’s of support and calming those claustrophobic team mates' nerves. Stick together and your life will be more bearable.

Birth Canal

Sounds pretty gross, and is very tough. Birth Canal forces Mudders to crawl underneath a water filled red liner, imitating a baby’s path to birth. The pressure from the water above makes crawling through the mud underneath exhausting.

Survival tip:

A similar strategy to the Electric Eel, keep your head down and slither from side to side, utilize those abs to really push through, the Birth Canal is not a place you want to linger longer than you have to.

Cry Baby

This one’s a real tearjerker. Mudders face the prospect of crawling through an enclosed chamber filled with a tear gas-like smog. This is a real grin and bear it obstacle. We guarantee you won’t face anything like this anywhere else.

Survival tip:

We guess you could wear goggles, but where’s the fun in that? We recommend you get through the chamber as quick as possible, it’s filled with a tear-gas cloud - ‘nuff said.

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