Upper-Body and Grip Strength Exercises Inspired By "American Ninja Warrior"
ICYDK, finger pull-ups are a thing.
The competitors on American Ninja Warrior have *all* the skills, but it's so easy to be mesmerized by their upper-body and grip strength. Contestants exhibit major talent swinging, climbing, and pushing their way through each stage of the "how the eff are they gonna do that?" obstacle course.
Compared to earlier seasons, the recent courses have shifted to focus even more on upper-body obstacles, according to the new book Become an American Ninja Warrior: The Ultimate Insider's Guide. So, naturally, many contestants emphasize upper-body strength when training. Feeling inspired by the contestants' acrobatics across the course? Even if you don't have a backyard training setup, you can train like a ninja warrior with these moves inspired by obstacles on the show. (Related: American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff Shares How She Crushed the Competition and Made History)
The Cliffhanger has appeared in different forms, but contestants always inch their way across the wall, holding onto ledges that are only wide enough to hold their fingertips. (Ouch.) As you can imagine, the move requires insane hand and forearm strength.
Exercise Inspiration: In a YouTube video, ANW-alum Evan Dollard suggests three moves to train for the obstacle. Try: 1) wide-grip pull-ups, 2) three-finger pull-ups using rock rings (they're like hanging rock climbing holds), followed by an extended arm hang until failure, and 3) seated dumbbell forearm curls.
2. Silk Slider
The Silk Slider looks easy-but it has proven tricky for some top competitors on ANW. Contestants have to hold on to two curtains to slide down a track onto a platform, kind of like they're zip-lining.
Exercise Inspiration: Sign up for an aerial silks class. You'll get practice at using your upper-body strength to hang from fabric.
3. Clear Climb
The Clear Climb made its one-time appearance in the season 7 finals. It consisted of a clear 24-foot wall with one section tilted back at a 35-degree angle and another tilted back at 45 degrees.
Exercise Inspiration: Try rock climbing to get a similar challenge for your arms, shoulders, and core.
4. Salmon Ladder
The Salmon Ladder (now a classic obstacle on the course) involves using momentum-and insane upper-body strength-to hop a pull-up bar vertically up a ladder, rung by rung. File this one under seemingly-impossible obstacles that the ninja warriors somehow make look easy.
Exercise Inspiration: To complete such a feat of upper-body strength, you have to be able to do pull-ups in your sleep. Use these exercises to build up to a pull-up if you're not there yet. Got pull-ups on lock? Build explosive power with plyo pull-ups: Do a quick pull-up, and when your chin gets close to bar-level, pop hands off the bar, then immediately grab on again.
5. Floating Monkey Bars
The Floating Monkey Bars are like a set of monkey bars with all but the first two bars missing. Contestants have to transfer the bars from one slot to the next to make their way across.
Exercise Inspiration: Find a set of monkey bars at your gym (or playground) and practice making your way across. (Related: The Playground Boot-Camp Workout That'll Make You Feel Like a Kid Again)
6. Time Bomb
The Time Bomb is similar to the floating monkey bars, but instead of moving the bar from rung to rung, the ninjas have to move small rings from hook to hook. To make your way across, you have to grasp globes attached to 3-inch-diameter rings, meaning grip strength is critical.
Exercise Inspiration: Improve your ability to hold on for dear life with these grip strength exercises.
7. Double Wedge
For the Wedge, warriors have to use momentum to scoot a bar forward that's wedged between two other bars. As if that's not bad enough: The Double Wedge is the same challenge, but with two sets of walls.
Exercise Inspiration: Jessie Graff slayed the double wedge during the record-breaking run that made her the first woman to complete stage two. Try some of her favorite upper-body exercises to feel even half as strong as this warrior.
8. Wall Flip
The wall flip is as tough as it sounds. Competitors on seasons 8 and 9 had to flip three Plexiglas walls, weighing 95, 115, and 135 pounds. It was the final obstacle on the course both times, so they take it on when their muscles are likely screaming. (Watch competitor Drew Drechsel do it with ease at about 2:30 in the video above.)
Exercise Inspiration: A tire flip requires a similar bend, lift, and press technique. If you're not sure about form or don't have tire access, try a landmine squat press.