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How to train for 'American Ninja Warrior'

By: Russell McLendon on Sept. 15, 2015, 9:45 a.m.
American Ninja Warrior grip hang

Photo: Jason Bahr/NBC

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Red, white and ninjutsu

In 15th-century Japan, ninjas had more to worry about than their bench press and body-mass index. They were too busy being awesome.

Some 600 years later, exercise routines tend to put health before stealth — and with good reason, given today's obesity and heart disease rates. But they also increasingly value versatility, mixing sports to "cross-train" better all-around athletes. And now a TV show is taking that idea a quintuple step further, mobilizing an army of would-be ninjas in the name of fitness.

NBC's "American Ninja Warrior," now with seven seasons under its belt, is a spinoff of the long-running Japanese show "Sasuke" (aka "Ninja Warrior"). Contestants face a grueling array of athletic tests, similar to ABC's "Wipeout" but in the more serious style of Japan's original obstacle-course game shows.

It took seven years, but the U.S. version finally crowned its first champion(s) in 2015. If you think you have what it takes to join them on Mt. Midoriyama, here are a few tips to help you release your inner ninja. (Text: Russell McLendon)