Spartan Race and American Ninja Warrior Collide

Spartan Race and American Ninja Warrior Collide

By: Tony Matesi

If you’ve been watching, American Ninja Warrior has moved into the City Finals segment of the show. Each week ANW returns to one of the six cities to challenge the top 30 or so competitors from the City Qualifiers to a longer version of the City Qualifier course. Those who make it will move onto the first stage in Las Vegas where they begin working their way towards taking on Mt. Midoriyama. All kinds of training disciplines have served competitors well on the various obstacle courses that American Ninja Warrior has constructed with the intent to halt competitors in their pursuit of glory — and a one million dollar prize payout.


Some of the most effective disciplines have included gymnastics, mountain climbing and parkour. And recently, Spartans have begun to embark on a journey for Ninja glory. Spartan Pros Matt Novakovich, Tiffanie Novakovich, Cassidy Watton, and most televised, Rose Wetzel have all demonstrated that Spartans are here to play. It doesn’t just stop with the Pros, Coach Casey, and myself, have both had our chance to test our Spartan Training on Ninja turf. That’s just this season alone, many other Spartans have competed as well including Alexander Nicholas and Junyong Pak.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I can speak from my experience in conquering the City Qualifier course in Houston that my training for Reebok Spartan Races has given me an edge in taking on the absolutely rigorous courses that put your grip strength and endurance to the ultimate test. With more and more Spartan Race courses containing what we have dubbed “Obstacle Gauntlets” that test your grip strength, racing in Reebok Spartan Races can adequately prepare you for a competition like Ninja Warrior and give you the edge you need to make it to the next round.

In my training, hanging from bars for as long as possible and refusing to let go has given me the upper hand when I come into an Obstacle Gauntlet, such as the Clif Multi-Rig, Sled Drag, Rope Climb, Hercules Hoist, Z-Traverse Wall, Tyrolean Traverse, and the Atlas Carry that Spartans faced at the Utah Super. I was able to not only successfully complete every obstacle burpee free, but also overtake many racers who were not properly prepared for the grip strength endurance needed to do so. Training for Spartan and training for Ninja went hand-in-hand, with the discipline from one translating into the needs of the other and vice-versa. The best part, anyone can incorporate the required strength into their training by doing these simple things:

  1. Hang like a monkey. Simply hang from something for as long as possible, keep practicing and work toward improving how long you can hang. As soon as you come down, hop back up and squeeze a bit longer until you have absolutely nothing left.
  2. Rock climbing. This is one of the best ways to develop hand and grip strength. Find a rock climbing gym, especially one with bouldering so you can get a higher frequency of climbs completed.
  3. Farmer carries. You can use buckets filled with rocks (as heavy as you can handle) and carry them for distances of 25, 50, 100 or more yards at a time. The longer you can carry, the better you’ll do.
  4. Tire drags. Secure a thick rope, attach to a tire, and drag across great distances. Your hands will weaken the farther you go but over time your grip-strength endurance will improve.
  5. Hand Gripper. Pick up a hand gripper, there are many on the market for less than $25. Carry it with you everywhere, practice your grip strength during your morning and evening commute. Do this often and soon enough you’ll have a stronger grip than a monkey.