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Ryan Ford on How to Train for Ninja Warrior

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Ok, Cavers, it’s a quick post day.  So here’s a “How to Train for Ninja Warrior” video by Ryan “Demon Drills” Ford and Brandon Douglass.  I’ve been wanting to make one of these myself but he beat me too it, and I don’t mind promoting his work, since he’s a good instructor.  Some of you will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap and many similarities with CrossFit training.  Indeed, a lot of those same functional movement skills come in very useful on the Ninja Warrior course.  Most of my top picks for exercises would have been the same.  Please comment and let me know what you think.

For the record, Ryan Ford finished 32nd in the south west regional qualifiers, narrowly missing the semi-finals for one of the most competitive regions in the nation.  He had an injured ankle before the warped wall.  I will also give him credit for training some of the very beasts that kept him out of the semi’s and providing them with their training grounds, Apex movement.  Brandon Douglass is considered Ninja Warrior Elite, and tied for 10th in 2012 ANW 4 in Las Vegas, along with Elet Hall (NE region) and our own JB Douglass, falling on the transition of the Unstable Bridge in Stage 2.

Trainer’s Programming: Andres De la Rosa (aka Amadraeus)

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

So if you’ve been following the Blog some of you will know that by Nick’s suggestion we were to post a week’s worth of our own programming/ workouts and possibly nutrition as well.   Most of the new CrossFitters at the Cave don’t know me all that well, so I’ll mention a few things about myself relating to my “fitness”, interests and goals that may shed light on what and why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Basically, I’m training for Ninja Warrior and I have a couple of major “holes” in my game.  Here’s a little video contrast to shed light on the situation.  My attempt at a transition on the Ultimate Cliff Hanger at David & Brian’s Ninja Warrior Course in Santa Cruz:

And here is David Campbell crushing the UCH:

To be fair, David Campbell is probably The Best American at The Ultimate Cliff Hanger.  He lives on that thing.

Most of you may not know that I’ve been fairly good at CrossFit in the past, competing in the 2007 and 2008 CrossFit Games and Sectionals or on the CrossFit Marin Affiliate Team as well as the Games Open although these days CrossFit is secondary in my training.  In 2010 I competed in American Ninja Warrior II  and since then I’ve been hooked and each year I’ve prioritized Ninja Warrior specific training more and more.  CrossFit can definitely help provide a great fitness base for an even like ANW, but in my opinion the two disciplines that prepare an athlete the best for American Ninja Warrior (other than simply replicating and training on the obstacles) are Parkour and Rock Climbing.  Gymnastics is a close 3rd.  So each year since I started competing in ANW, I’ve been shying a little further away from heavy CrossFitting and emphasizing  climbing and Parkour.  In both 2010 & 2011 I completed the qualifier course in Venice but was just a little bit too slow to finish in the top 30, which is the pool that moves on to the semi-finals.  This year, 2012, it was a much easier process to make it to the next stage because they had six regions and a lot more competitors advancing to the finals.   I barely made it to the finals in Vegas but I fell on the “Jumping Spider” in stage one.  Although I didn’t finish the stage, I know that I am physically capable of doing so.  I made a “read” error for the obstacle.  If I tried it again I very well could get it and I know that even if it is possible for me to fall, I am very capable of finishing stage 1 of the course.  Here is a stage-1 simulation at David, Brian & Travis’ former Sasuke course in Santa Cruz:

Although stage two is commonly thought to be considerably harder, it is still within my capability of completing it, as long as I have a good run.  Stage 3, however, is a completely different matter.  I know that I have uncommonly strong grip strength and pull strength compared to most people, even most CrossFitters.  (If you think you can beat me at a grip strength contest, come find me.  I’ll be happy to acquiesce.)  However, the amount of grip strength and endurance as well as core strength and explosiveness required to complete stage 3 of American Ninja Warrior is, well- ridiculous, and I know that I’m not there at the moment.  I’ve decided to concentrate on climbing until my finger strength increases enough to at least give me a chance at completing stage 3 of the competition.  Climbing at the level that I’m trying to get to is very hard, and somewhat dangerous, similarly to how how it can be dangerous to perform at an elite level at any sport.  You can simply be more at risk of injury.   Here is a week of my programming starting on Sept. 15th at the Meyers South Lake Tahoe bouldering competition:

Saturday Sept. 15th: Bouldering outdoors (that is climbing with no ropes- you stay low to the ground.  It tends to be shorter but more powerful.  Kind of like a “strength day” to climbing instead of a metcon- [longer route on a rope.])  for about 8 hours starting around 9-ish and ending around 5-ish.  Actual “on the rock” time was much less.  This involved plenty of hiking, strategizing, and resting in between problems, as well as enjoying the good company.  It was hard climbing outdoors since I’m mostly used to climbing in a gym, but it was very gratifying and I became familiar with a lot of great climbing spots in Tahoe.  The hardest problem I got was (supposedly) a V-6, which is fairly hard, but I mostly completed  V-1’s & V-2’s.  I think the V-6 was over rated in terms of difficulty.  Also, after the climbing competition was over, I participated in the dyno comp which was fun, but I got trounced, in both the boulder and the dyno comp.  My friend and climbing partner Brett Ashton, won the dyno comp and came in 3rd in the “open” category, which is populated by super-freaks.  He’s about as good as you can get at climbing and not be professional.  He is sponsored by Evolve.  Here’s a picture of him on a V8 on the “Toltec Boulder”:

Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe.  Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!

Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe. Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!

Sunday Sept. 16th: Woke up early to go for a run at altitude through the forest.  I got side tracked by rocks to jump on.  I ended up practicing a great stride / gap leap sequence on a series of rocks and a bush to jump over in between the second to last and last rock.  Practiced single steps on rocks, leap over bush and land the precision on the last rock.  It required considerable speed and commitment.  Great coordination, depth, power, and agility training as well as the “mental” aspect of training a big skill.  The moves required short sprinting.  Ran back to camp.  The bulk of the day was taken up by watching Bret and another fellow make a project of a V-11 that I couldn’t even start.  Later doubled up by finishing the day at the “hemorrhoid” boulder on a classic V3 that I  made up.  Probably 1.5 hours of climbing there to close up the day.

Monday Sept 17th: Rest-ish.  Fore arms pretty trashed

Tuesday Sept 18th: The Cave’s Lvl 2 programming:

A> Back Squats - 5×2 @ 85%

B>  Squat Snatch - 3 x2 @ 75%, 2×2 @ 80%

(hadn’t snatched in a while went conservative with just 55 kg.)

C> For Time:

800M run

Rest 1 min

50 Hand Release Push Ups

Rest 1 min

800M run

Wednesday Sept. 19th: Hill sprints (roughly 80 meters?) right outside of my parents’ house:

3 R:  Hill Sprint / 15 Push-ups, then rest

Moderate bouldering later that night at Planet Granite

Thursday Sept. 20th: The Cave programming Lvl 2:

A> Thruster- 5×3 @ 80%  (Increased weight for sets from 40kg through 65 kg.)

B> Back Jerks - Did not have time to do this.

C> 5 min Emom of: 15 Hand Release Push Ups; 2 Single Leg Box Jump L/R.

(Coincidentally Jonny Mosely came in to the gym during the E-mom.  He was one of the hosts of American Nina Warrior 4.  I actually met him during the qualifiers in Venice, although he is a local and several of our clients know him.)

D>  5 min Emom of: 8 Toes to Bar/ Pull up alternate.   This was excellent training for Ninja Warrior.  It combines the core and pull strength necessary for a lot of the upper body obstacles as well as giving you a stamina hit.

I should have probably taken a rest day that day, but it felt good to train at the time.  I paid for it the following week though, when my shoulder and later my neck seized up.  I’m finally better about two weeks later, but the three days in a row of push-ups with no rest when I’m somewhat deconditioned in regards to CrossFit training may have had something to do with it.  Special thanks to Dr. Sara LaMarch for helping heal up my shoulder and neck.

Friday Sept. 21st: Monsterous bouldering day at the climbing gym.  I crushed a V6, almost completed a second V6 project, and started chipping away at the pieces of a pretty tough V7 among other problems that I managed to send.  However, that weekend my neck tightened up during that weekend probably due to a combination of bad sleeping posture and previous workouts.

I intend on focusing on climbing for the next several months and expanding to parkour and gymnastics with some Ninja Warrior specific training thereafter.  I will also be doing a limited amount of CrossFit-ish workouts, especially to keep some Olympic lifting skills.  As far as my nutrition for that week, I tried to eat somewhat healthy, but I’m pretty sure that I ate too much ice-cream.  It can happen on climbing trips.

As a reminder, The Cave has a Ninja Warrior Seminar & competition coming up on Nov. 3rd for kids and Nov. 4th for adults.  We’re going to have a whole team of American Ninja Warrior celebrities here to coach you through several courses and teach you some Ninja skillzzz.  If anyone wants to try learning some of this skill set, it would be a great place to practice!   No parkour or rock climbing prerequisites!  The kids’ event is almost sold out but the adult one still has plenty of room.  Sign up on our website and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.