America Ninja Warrior – Workout

By: Dr. Arianne Missimer
The Movement Paradign

Pull up

Being able to pull your body up off the ground is one of the fundamental movements of the human body. Also, if you watched the show, you know that most of the obstacles require pulling yourself up, so this is the foundation for your training.

  1. To do a proper pull-up, grip the bar shoulder-width apart with straight arms.
  2. Start in a “dead hang” position on the rings or a bar.
  3. Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows to the floor. Keep pulling until your chin passes the bar.
  4. Lift your chest up and squeeze your shoulder blades down and back.
  5. Lower yourself all the way down under control until your arms are straight. Maintain a hollow body position throughout the exercise. Exhale as you pull yourself up and inhale as you lower down.
  6. You can start by jumping up and performing isometric holds at the top position. Work up to 30 seconds. Then perform negatives (slow lower).   Then a pull-up prep at the bottom of the motion where you initiate the pull-up where your elbows are straight, with the movement occurring completely at the shoulder girdle, not in your arms. These progressions will be sure to get you doing a pull-up in no time.

Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a challenging skill to learn. It takes a really complex mix strength, mobility, and motor control. Proper execution requires mastery of each element.  Also, you need all these elements to be a ninja!

  1. Make sure you can perform 20-30 clean body weight squats before starting. Progress towards a slightly narrower hip-width stance over time.
  2. To work up to doing a full pistol squat, perform a slow, controlled pistol negative. Bring the other leg in at the bottom, and stand up on two legs. Or try performing a pistol squat to a box and then slowly lower the surface until you are able to perform the full version
  3. To perform the full pistol, descend into a squat by flexing your hips and knee. As you squat, extend the non-working leg forward to allow clearance for your movement. Descend slowly, paying close attention to balance and proper movement mechanics, going as far as your mobility allows.
  4. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. The back doesn’t need to be neutral.
  5. Hold the bottom position briefly and then return to the start by extending through the hips and knee, driving through your entire foot. You are rooting your toes into the ground.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.

Lateral Hops to stabilization

This exercises works on dynamic leg stability, balance, and power. It integrates foot to core sequencing which is powerful for optimal movement efficiency, speed, and control needed for America Ninja Warrior.

  1. Assume a half single leg squat position facing 90 degrees for your starting position.
  2. Use a reciprocal arm movement (as in running and walking)
  3. Exhale as you bound and land (while rooting your toes ) and inhale as your are prepping.
  4. Immediately push off and extend, attempting to bound to the side as far as possible under control.
  5. Upon landing, make sure to stabilize yourself on one leg while rooting your toes into the ground (short foot) BEFORE returning to your original start position.
  6. Continue back and forth for 5-8 repetitions and perform 3 sets.


Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing in its simplest explanation is a dynamic hip hinge. Shoulders above hips, hips above knees, with a well-maintained spine are your key points. It is important to understand how your breathing plays a role in the tension and relaxation that should take place during each swing. It is a great exercise to develop force generation in the hips which will be great to help you succeed with the course.

  1. Hike Stance set up as if you are going to hike a football
  2. Place your bell a foot or so in front of you.
  3. Hinge, load your hips and grip your bell.
  4. Spine is neutral and eyes are on the horizon.
  5. Root your feet to the floor.
  6. Grip and visualize breaking the handle of the bell to engage your lats.
  7. Sniff in some air.
  8. Hike the bell and keep it close to your body.
  9. Snap the hips and match the tension breath at the top with the hip snap.
  10. Use a tension breath which is a “TSS” sound with your tongue against your teeth. When done properly you will feel a contraction in your core.
  11. The bell should float momentarily at chest height while you are in a standing plank position. Because you directing your force forward, the bell should not drift above shoulder height.
  12. Repeat
  13. Always complete your swing and bring back to your START position before you sit the bell down to avoid injury.
  14. Perform as many high quality reps as possible.

L-Sit w/ Pike to Front Tuck

This is a very challenging core and body tension exercise that will help tremendously with injury prevention as well as helping you to navigate the obstacles with great control.

  1. Start by simply sitting on the floor with your hands flat on the ground just outside of your hips.
  2. Extend your elbows and push your hands down, lifting your legs and upper body into the air with your legs straight, toes pointed so your body resembles a capital letter “L.”
  3. Keep your arms close to your body, with your elbows locked and pointed back behind you. Focus on creating tension with every single muscle in your body.
  4. Make sure to maintain optimal diaphragmatic breathing throughout the exercise while creating body tension.
  5. You can practice the L-sit on a bench, between two boxes, on parallettes or using other raised objects.
  6. You may also bend one or both knees to reduce the difficulty as you progress toward the full L-sit.
  7. You can progress to a pike position and a front tuck as shown the video.
  8. Try holding for 2 sec and work up to 1 min at a time.



These are a great compound upper body pressing bodyweight exercise that is another fundamental human movement. These will help you to be able to push up out of anything you may be faced with.

  1. You can perform on parallettes or a bench.
  2. Make sure to maintain an upright torso and hollow body position with legs back .
  3. Maintain elbow position closer to the body and squeeze the glutes to maintain form
  4. Lock out elbows in top position and your shoulders will drop slightly below the elbow at bottom
  5. Maintain a neutral head position
  6. Inhale as you descend and exhale on the way up.
  7. Perform 3-5 reps x 3 sets and slowly increase your reps with good quality form.

Wall Hand Stand

Inversion improves your overall strength, body control, and spatial awareness.  This can help support any obstacle that may come your way and takes consistent and patient practice to master. 

  1. Place your hands on the ground so that you can get both feet up on the wall.
  2. Walk your hands in until they are just a couple inches away from the wall
  3. Lock your knees out straight and flex your ankles to 90 degrees so that your toes or balls of your feet are touching the wall
  4. Tuck your chin to look at the wall, and maintain the good hollow body position.
  5. Push your hands firmly into the ground, extend the shoulders, and make sure all the other body positioning cues are in place
  6. Once you’ve progressed to 8 sets of 30 second holds.


WARNING: You must consult your physician before you begin this or any other exercise program

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!