How to Train Like an American Ninja Warrior

So how can you train like an American Ninja Warrior? Get-Fit Guy shares 6 quick and dirty tips for better speed, balance, grip, and more.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #204

You’re probably familiar with "American Ninja Warrior," the heart-racing and action-packed obstacle course competition series that seems to be taking the world by storm. From schoolteachers to firemen to police officers to social workers, this competition gives everyday men and women the chance to transform into fearless acrobatic competitors, a shot at a $500,000 cash prize, and--perhaps most relevant to you--the ability to do special workouts and training that build a very impressive combination of a lean body, grip strength, speed, explosiveness, flexibility and balance.

So how can you train like an American Ninja Warrior? Here are 6 quick and dirty tips:

Get Lean

To navigate through the short 50-100 yard "American Ninja Warrior" course with speed, move efficiently, and be able to project your body while flying through the air and hanging from bars, you need to be light on your feet. When I’m getting ready for an important competition, I combine as many of my unconventional fat loss tips as possible.

For example, I stop eating about 2 hours before bedtime, get up in the morning in a fasted state, take a cold shower, drink some coffee, do a 20-30 minute easy aerobic workout still in a fasted state, eat breakfast, spend as much time during the day on my feet or moving, then, later on in the day, do something more intense, like weight training or high intensity interval training, followed by a final cold shower! It may seem inconvenient, but if you want to get lean fast, this is a really good way to structure your day.

Get a Grip

Grip strength is paramount in an obstacle-style event, especially for obstacles in "Amerian Ninja Warrior" like the Arm Rings, Salmon Ladder, Devil Steps, and the Pipe Slider.

Some of my favorite grip strengthening activities (which I detail in this podcast episode) include doing pull-ups or assisted pull-ups with as many different grips as possible, wrapping a towel around a bar and hanging from the towel, walking while holding some kind of heavy rock or a bucket filled with water, and pinching two weight plates together with one hand. The greater the variety of ways you can train your grip, the better. And of course, don’t forget one of the funnest ways to build both grip strength and agility: rock climbing.

Get Fast Feet

Most "American Ninja Warrior" courses start with the quad step, in which you’re bounding side to side at various angles. You’ll also be running across logs or bounding across suspended giant balls--and all of this requires you to be very fast on your feet.

Some of the best ways to get your feet moving quickly include agility ladders that you can step in and out of (these ladders are popular among tennis players, football teams, etc.), sprinting down mildly steep grassy slopes like you’d find on a golf course, doing explosive alternating step-ups on a step bench at the gym, putting a treadmill on a very fast sprint speed and trying to stay on as long as possible, and doing lots of plyometrics, which you can learn about in this Get-Fit Guy episode on developing superhuman strength.  


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.