If the recent series of Australian Nina Warrior has you wanting to be a real life super hero it’s time to step off the treadmill and shake that training routine up.
We spoke to local personal trainer Nathan Ernst about what it takes to make it on a tough obstacle course like Australian Ninja Warrior, and what moves you should be adding to your training calendar to get in shape.
Firstly, put down the beer, skittles, and reschedule your Netflix marathon. This is going to take a little bit of sweaty hard work. Running over rolling logs, hanging from tiny ledges and flying from crazy obstacle to crazy obstacle isn’t for the casually fit.
Nathan says would take the average Joe at least six to 12 months of training to build up the strength and skills required.
“The areas you would mainly focus on would be core, upper body strength, agility, grip strength and explosive power movements,” he says. “Stuff like planks, chin ups, push ups and sprint work. Sports where you’ve got to suddenly change position like tennis, basketball and AFL can help with building explosiveness, agility and reaction times – a big thing with Ninja Warrior is timing to make jumps.”
Nathan says some of the qualifying exercises for Ninja Warrior are pretty intense. You have to be able to plank, skip, dead hang and do pull-ups all for five minutes each. And don’t be fooled, big muscles might not get you to the top.
“Looks aren’t everything. If you watch it, it is typically the leaner guys and girls that do tend to finish. When you’re lighter you can get around the course more easily.”
Here are five exercises you should add to your schedule if you want to make it through a super tough obstacle course. Read on, and watch the video below of Nathan’s demo.
- Push ups
Our old friend the push up is going to help build up your chest, shoulder and arm muscles that will allow you to hang from things like the basket toss. When you’re doing a push up keep your torso straight – your butt shouldn’t be in the air and your head shouldn’t hang down. Engage your core, get your chest as close as possible to the ground and keep your elbows tucked in close to your body to make sure you’re really working your chest.
There’s nothing like a plank to build up your core strength. If you think five minutes is an impossible goal Nathan says an average healthy person should be aiming for two minutes of planking. You can mix it up by side planking or doing a Superman pose – where the opposite arm and leg is raised. Yoga is full of planks and great for flexibility too.
- Pull ups and climbing
Go the playground and get creative with this one. Use monkey bars or climbing nets to do a variety of pull up and chin up combinations. Depending on where you position your body in relation to the net you can really mix up the intensity. Also, just climbing on playground equipment is a good way to build all over strength, and it will build grip strength too.
- Footwork and agility drills
You may have seen personal trainers or football coaches making people run around little orange cones or through speed ladders. It’s great if you’ve got those tools, but if you don’t, no worries. Head to the park (or your backyard). Pick a few trees or mark out an area with some stones, sticks, shoes – whatever you’ve got. And then try two minutes of running back and forth between your markers, switching direction and accelerating as fast as you can each time. This will help build explosive speed and agility.
- General strength and cardio
As a holistic trainer Nathan is a big believer in having an all around balance of training methods. Amp up your fitness by working on cardio with things like running, boxing and HIIT training and incorporate body weight exercises like squat jumps to build strength. These kinds of dynamic movements form the basics of the skill set you’ll need to be a Ninja Warrior.
If you’re super serious about being a Ninja Warrior the second Australian season is still taking applicants. Or you can start training now for Tough Mudder 2018, it will be in the Sunshine Coast area in May. And the Kryptonite Challenge is coming to the Toowoomba Showgrounds this November.
Kickstart your training with Nathan. He’s been a personal trainer for almost five years and has his Certificate 3 and Certificate 4 in Fitness. He’s also completed a Tough Mudder, so you know he’s put his money where his mouth is, or whatever that saying is.
One-on-one sessions at Nathan’s home studio are 30 minutes ($40), 45 minutes ($55) or 60 minutes ($70). You can catch Nathan on Facebook at Nathan Ernst – Health and Wellbeing or call 0457 230 725. Follow him on Instagram too: @nathanernst_pt