Leave it to the Tough Mudder tribe to come up with the ultimate grip-strength obstacle—and to one-up an all-time favorite. Kong Infinity was designed by Legionnaires Ross Munro and Jonny McDonald, the winners of our 2017 Tough Mudder obstacle design challenge, and it's one of the newest obstacles challenging Legionnaires on Tough Mudder Full, and everyone who's taking on Tougher and Toughest Mudders in 2018.
The Legionnaires thought of the idea after realizing that the rings in the original Kong obstacle—the top-rated obstacle of 2017—would swing in the wind or when a Mudder couldn’t complete the obstacle. The updated version of the 20-foot-long obstacle has a large moving cylinder that travels at an incline, similar to how you’d climb Funky Monkey 2.0, except you’re using rings to climbs. The circular rings are attached to the moving cylinder and the more you climb, the higher it goes until you reach the peak of the obstacle where you’ll transition to a set of monkey bars. Yep, this beast is grippy and grueling, and, at 18 feet off the ground, requires leaving your fear of heights in the mud.
Tough Mudder volunteers and Legionnaires will help you overcome any height fears, but add these five moves to your fitness routine to help improve your grip strength for this upper-body blasting obstacle.
1. Farmer’s Carry
To conquer Kong Infinity, you’ll need to grab and squeeze the rings and monkey bars. The farmer’s carry strengthens the crush grip, which is the ability to squeeze something between your fingers and palm. The farmer’s carry also works finger and forearm endurance, which is essential for holding on for the duration of the obstacle.
How To Do It:
1. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells so that your hands are facing each other, and let them hang naturally at arms length by your sides.
2. Then, walk forward for as long as you can while holding the dumbbells. Aim for 300 feet (slightly less than a football field) without dropping the weight.
3. As you walk remember to keep your core engaged, shoulders back, and chest upright.
Trainer Tip: Use kettlebells or water jugs for variety. Men should start with 40lbs and women should start with 20lbs. If you can walk for longer than 60 seconds, switch the weights you’re using for a heavier weight. Aim for three trips total per workout.
2. Reverse Barbell Wrist Curl
This exercise is solely to increase muscular endurance of the forearms muscles, which should transfer into completing Kong Infinity.
How to Do It:
1. Hold a barbell behind you with a narrow grip with palms facing away from your back, so that it is 2-3 inches away from your butt. Your arms should be in back of you and hanging towards the ground with the barbell in behind your butt.
2. While keeping an upright posture (shoulders back, core engaged and head facing forward), let the barbell roll onto your fingertips then while keeping arms straight. The only thing moving is your wrists and fingertips. It’s a slow flick of the wrists behind you.
3. Now, make a fist and squeeze the forearms to grip the bar again with a closed grip. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: Do this exercise slowly. Don’t use momentum by shrugging the shoulders or swinging the body forward. Do this close to a barbell rack so you can safely place the bar back when you’re done. Mudders should start with an empty straight Olympic barbell or a shorter/lighter barbell for beginners. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.
3. Pinch Grip Plate Transfer
Pinch Grip engages the muscles between your fingers and thumb. Strengthening your fingertips and forearm extensors (the muscles that open the hand) can help you hang onto the rings and monkey bars for longer even when your back and arms are shot. Going to an indoor rock climbing gym works this type of grip, but it you don’t have access to one, here’s a great move to try.
How To Do It:
1. Stand tall and grab a weight plate with your right hand between your thumb and fingers. Your thumb is on one side of the plate and your other four fingers are on the other side. The plate and your arm should be at your side.
2. Bring the plate in front of you so it’s parallel to the ground and your arm is extended out in front of your chest and parallel to the ground. You should be “pinching” the plate so that the thumb is the bottom and your other four fingers are on top. Your fingers would look like you’re sprinkling salt or feeding a duck, except there’s a plate between them.
3. Transfer the plate from your right hand to your left hand while keeping your arms straight out in front of you.
4. Keep moving the plate back and forth as fast as possible for 30 seconds.
Trainer Tip: Start with a 5lb plate and work your way up to 25 pounds. 45 pounds is a real grip challenge. Increase difficulty by transferring the plate behind your back or between our legs.
4. Inverted Row
The inverted row improves muscular endurance in your back and biceps, which are the two main muscles that you’ll use during Kong Infinity to support you. Moving your body through space is essential in this obstacle and a combination of muscular and endurance and grip strength will get you to the end.
How To Do It:
1. Set an empty barbell in a power rack (or use a Smith machine) at about hip height.
2. Lie underneath it on the ground and grab it so palms are facing away from your body (back of hand is closest to your body) shoulder-width apart.
3. Hang from the bar so your entire body forms a straight line. Tighten your core and imagine your body is a stiff board. The back of your heels should be on the ground and toes pointed toward the ceiling.
4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up until your chest is nearly touching the bar.
5. Release arms back down towards ground, keeping core tight.
Trainer Tip: To make this exercise easier, experiment with placing your entire foot on the ground and bending your knees while you pull yourself to the bar. The inverted row is a precursor to pullups but can also be used to build back endurance for advanced athletes.
5. Dead Hang
The dead hang trains your “support grip,” which is the ability of your forearms and fingers to support your body weight for a long amount of time. Training this part of your grip will help you hang on to Kong Infinity until the very end.
How to Do It
1.Hang from a pullup bar with arms shoulder width apart using an overhand grip. Your legs should be hip width apart. Your arms and and legs should be straight.
2. Hold on as long as you can. Beginners should try to accumulate 1 minute of hanging, while more advances Mudders should try to hold on for 1 full minute, 3-4 times resting 1 minute between sets.
Trainer Tip: To make it harder, intermediate to advanced Mudders can hang with both elbows bent and aim for two minutes. Bending your elbows isolates your lat (back) and abdominal muscles, eliminating the reliance on grip strength to hold you in the air. Thus, you’re testing your muscular endurance by holding yourself in the air without being able to adjust your grip as easily since your elbows are bent.