Four Steps to Training Like an American Ninja Warrior

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
If you’ve turned on your TV this summer, you’ve probably seen a commercial for or watched the summer’s biggest hit, American Ninja Warrior (ANW).

ANW is a spin-off of a Japanese television series, Sasuke, in which people from all walks of life compete in a series of increasingly challenging obstacle courses to win a million-dollar grand prize.

In seven seasons no one has won, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people across the country from getting in top ninja warrior shape. Read below to see how the physically demanding but rewarding warrior obstacle courses can help you craft your own weight-loss plan.

Step One: Set a Goal

Before you start to work out, meet with a doctor to discuss a fitness plan to reach your goal of being as fit as a ninja warrior.

A healthy training programs should consist of:

Weight goals with reasonable time frames
Balanced eating plans
Specific training regimens
Goal tracking systems
As you craft your training program, set a “SMART” goal. "SMART" stands for Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Timeframe. These five principles can guide you as you set an attainable weight-loss goal. An example of a SMART goal would be:

  • Specific. Feel healthy and happy from a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Measurable. Lose one pound a week.
  • Accountable. Use a calorie counter app to track calorie intake.
  • Realistic. Lose 25 pounds.
  • Timeframe. Lose 25 pounds over the course of 6 months.
Step Two: Eat Right

The next step in your training program is to estimate your daily calorie intake. Using a BMI Calculator, find the number of calories your body uses at your current weight. The basic rule of weight loss is that for every pound you wish to lose in a week, you should consume 500 fewer calories than your daily calorie intake.

For a weight-loss diet, focus on eating lean protein, vegetables, and fruits, and avoid eating too many simple and complex carbs. Eating right and exercising regularly speeds up your metabolism, which allows your body to burn more calories and build muscle.

When you diet, remember to control your portions. Controlling your portions helps your body process food faster and helps you avoid post-meal tiredness. If you get hungry in between meals, eat healthy snacks such as carrots or nuts.

Remember that one weight-loss plan isn’t right for everyone. Talk to your doctor about the best diet plan for your needs. You want to craft a plan you can commit to, which means it should include lifestyle changes that will help you keep lost weight off.

Step Three: Train Like a Ninja Warrior

Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for: becoming as active as a ninja warrior.

Becoming a ninja warrior requires tremendous strength, flexibility, speed, and, perhaps most importantly, mental toughness.

Here are some exercises used by past ANW competitors to prepare for difficult courses. When done correctly, these exercises can help you tone your muscles and lose weight. Don't be afraid to modify them to meet your needs:

Jump squat and pull   – To perform this exercise, attach a rope or cords to a high bar or anchor about 8 feet high. Pull the rope away from the anchor point with your arms straight until the rope is about shoulder height. From there, bend your knees until your butt hits your heels. From this position, jump upwards and repeat.

Quad Steps   – People make quad steps, or angled platforms, out of a variety of things. They have sawed tables in half, nailed wood together, and used pieces of plastic foam to create the slanted steps. Once they build the steps, they use a standing or running start to jump from one step to another without touching the ground.

Lateral Hops   – This exercise starts with your knees bent, hips back, and chest up. Starting with the left leg, jump up and to the right, landing on the right leg. After landing, repeat motion, but taking off with the right leg and landing with the left leg.

Spiderman Push-Up   – Start in a standard push-up position. When you go into a downward push-up position, swing your leg out and lift your knee towards your elbows. Return your foot to the starting position and repeat with left leg.

Create your own course   – For a more simulated training routine many ANW competitors create their own training course designed after the obstacle course. ANW finalist David Campbell started with a backyard obstacle course, but eventually constructed a replica of Mt. Midoriyama, the toughest obstacle course from Sasuke, to train on.

Mental strength is just as important as physical strength to a competitor’s success. Top ANW competitors David Campbell and Travis Furlanic have pre-competition rituals (Campbell practices Japanese meditative breathing and Furlanic lets out a big yawn before each course) to help them cope with the stress of the event and visualize how to conquer a stage.

Step Four: Track Your Progress

Don’t forget to record your progress during your journey to get in shape. Use the accountability method you chose as part of your "SMART" goal to track your progress regularly.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. More likely than not, training will take months of hard work and dedication before you see a dramatic difference. But remember to always keep your end goal in mind.

Start Training Today

Whether you want to become a ninja warrior contestant or you simply want to use these techniques to get in shape, there's no better time to start than today. If you have been inspired by the everyday ANW men and women you see on TV, meet with a health professional to start your own weight-loss journey.
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