Epic Ring Failure - Tough Mudder Hangin' Tough Obstacle - Cube Dweller Fitness

Epic Ring Failure – Tough Mudder Hangin’ Tough Obstacle

During the Tough Mudder in Beaver Creek, CO there was one obstacle that beat me – Hangin’ Tough. Let’s dig into this epic ring failure and dig into how to prepare for the Tough Mudder Hangin’ Tough Obstacle.

Epic Ring Failure at Tough Mudder

Analysis of My Failure on the Tough Mudder Hangin’ Tough Obstacle

When faced with failure, spend some time looking back to analyze why the failure occurred. Laugh about it, then find failure points to address.

For this situation there were two main reasons behind my epic ring failure: Grip Strength, and Numb Hands.

Grip Strength

Let’s be honest. If I had grip of steel I wouldn’t have fallen off the rings, period. Many activities and obstacles in life would benefit from developing increased grip strength. Watch the video again. Watch for how I fall. The simple conclusion is the ring slips right out of my hand.

If I had developed the strength in my hands more they could have locked on like a pit-bull. Lock onto the rings with strength that isn’t questionable.

Numb Hands

Cold and wet! Cold and wet are two physical conditions that work against how our hands work to grip things. My hands were experiencing both; I had numb hands.

Numb hands start to shut down, there is less blood flowing which reduces sensations (proprioception) and strength. Now when you combine that in this case the numbness stems from being wet my skin also was very slippery.

Prepare for the Tough Mudder Hang Time Obstacle

Sometimes it would be nice to have wings to make progress…

Build Grip Strength

In my training I do work on grip strength, but as a secondary focus. Here are the exercises and equipment that I use in my garage gym that develops grip strength:

  1. Rings – perfect for doing ring flys, ring pull ups, ring dips, rows, and many more movements.
  2. Pull Up Bar – my main grip training tool doing pull ups, or just working on my hang time.
  3. Soft Ball Pull Up Grips – these were a great DIY project and doing pull ups on these definitely hit the forearms.
  4. Bulgarian Training Bag – fill a car tire inner tube with sand, make handles, then start swinging it around. Let me tell you right now that it will improve your grip strength. Training the the DIY Bulgarian Training bag is a great way to get started. Check out my Kindle book on DIY Sandbag Workouts.
  5. Kettlebells – these compact little tools are near and dear to my heart. They just work for the limited space I have in my garage gym. In my Kettlebell Guide I offer lots of other links to help get you started with kettlebells. They are another training tool that requires your grip to hang on as you swing weight around.

While those are well and good, they did not develop the grip strength that was needed on the Tough Mudder Hang Time Obstacle.

I’ve joined GripBoard as a way to talk with others about building my grip strength.

Prevent Numb Hands

In this situation I just shake my head. I already had the solution to numb hangs, Mad Gripz gloves.

See months prior to the Tough Mudder I had researched what equipment I needed to run the event. One piece of gear was gloves, specifically Mad Gripz gloves.

They worked incredibly well – when worn.

Coming up to the Tough Mudder Hang Time obstacle our team was debating if gloves would help, or not. We talked about trade-offs either way and in the end I decided to pull the gloves off.

The result was an epic ring failure. My hands felt fine in the gloves, but instantly felt cold outside in the wind. They were wet and chilled. As much as I tried to get the blood flowing to warm them up it just wasn’t happening. By the time I reached out for the first ring my hands still felt cold.

The Mad Gripz gloves have a wonderfully sticky rubber palm. They helped tremendously as I climbed across the monkey bars later in the Tough Mudder. I should have kept them on; next time I will.

Dig Through and Embrace Your Failures – Fail Forward

But take this same approach with any of your own failures. Look back on them, find humor, find opportunity, and go forward.

For me finding ways to fail forward is an essential part of improving. Embrace your own failures, like my epic ring failure at the Beaver Creek Tough Mudder, to help you improve.


Troy is the founder of Cube.Dweller.Fitness. He's an innovation catalyst in several areas of life including business, marketing, and process improvement. Outside of work he's actively involved in fitness, health, and living vibrantly in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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