Recently, I traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the obstacle course race called American Ninja Warrior. And a few days ago, Season 15 of the show aired on NBC and Peacock. In honor of that, I’d like to share with everyone EXACTLY what I do to train for an American Ninja Warrior event.
Here they are. All of my training secrets revealed right here on the global stage:
I do something active every day. Usually, I do a different type of activity each day. It's likely an outdoor activity. And it's definitely an activity that I think will be fun.
Seriously, that’s it?
Yep. That's it.
I don’t lift weights, run 5 miles every day, or swim laps for hours. Those things bore the heck out of me, and I don’t particularly appreciate doing boring things.
Exercise should be enjoyable. And the minute I feel like exercise is a chore or something to check off my to-do list, it’s time for something different. I never want to say, “I need to get my workout in today.” I’d rather say, “I really want to go for a bike ride today.” A small change in perspective can go a long way, so I choose my exercises based on fun and enjoyment, not on what societal norms say is the “right” way to train.
A small change in perspective can go a long way, so I choose my exercises based on fun and enjoyment, not on what societal norms say is the “right” way to train.
Most people say that I need to lift weights or adopt some routine schedule to progress my training. But honestly, I’m not convinced that going to the gym would be better for me than just playing around in the mountains. And this does not mean that the gym is a bad thing. If you’re a person who appreciates having external motivation and accountability to stay active, then gyms, classes, and personal trainers are a perfect fit. But if you get bored with routine, lifting weights, or seeing the same views every day, my training style might suit you better.
One thing to note, though, is that I'm the type of person who will naturally push myself to my limit. When I go for a bike ride, I may start out nice and easy, but by the end I'm sweating bullets because I push myself to pedal as hard as I can up a mountain. I enjoy competing with myself in this way. So, if that is not your natural tendency, it may help to have a trainer or workout plan that forces you to do hard things, not just fun and easy things (in the future, I will write a post about how to turn a fun activity into a hard workout, too).
Below are some examples of the activities that I choose from each season. Not only do these activities keep me healthy and fully “trained up” for projects like American Ninja Warrior and the Moranic Picnic, but they also keep me happy (which I think is kind of important).
In the winter, I’ll alternate between these activities:
cross country skiing
simply walking around in the snow or going for a little jog on the road
hiking without snowshoes and sometimes post-holing up a mountain (talk about a workout!)
running up and down a sledding hill
playing indoor rec sports (soccer, volleyball, pickleball, etc.)
playing outdoor rec sports (broomball, hockey, etc.)
dancing (like nobody’s watching. No alcohol needed)
jumping in cold lakes and rivers (yes, this is fun for me. Maybe I’m a little crazy…)
In the warmer months, I can choose from even more activities:
playing yard games with friends (Spikeball!!)
nature parkouring (essentially just running around the forest while jumping off some stuff and climbing on other stuff)
playing traditional sports (soccer, golf, tennis, basketball, etc.)
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to bore you with the entire list (remember, I don’t like doing boring things).
While looking through this list, some of you might be thinking, “I like those activities, too, but I go to the gym to train for those activities.” That’s a fair point. Staying strong and mobile gives you the capacity and endurance to perform these activities (and, given my piss poor performance on Season 14 of ANW last year, I plan to integrate more specificity into my ninja warrior training). But I contend that consistently practicing many different activities will still help you stay fit and mobile for the activities you love the most. And researchers confirm the theory that exposing your body to unique movements and loads helps you avoid injury and improve performance.
Also, I think consistency is more important than doing the absolute best exercise routine (which probably doesn’t exist anyway). If it’s hard for you to stay consistent because you dread the boring routine of lifting weights or running on a treadmill, you might want to consider adding variety and fun to your exercise life. It’s pretty difficult to fall off the bandwagon when you love the activity you’re doing.
So, I’m giving you permission to have fun with your “training.” Don’t even call it training. Just have fun moving your body in unique and exciting ways. If you like routine and accountability, then stay on that gym rat grind. But if that strategy hasn’t been working for you, here’s your 3-step plan: Get outside. Switch it up. And have some fun!
Try that plan for a while and let me know how it goes. See you in the mountains!
P.S. I was honored to be interviewed by a few reporters about my American Ninja Warrior journey. If you’re interested, check out these links: JH News & Guide, Buckrail, KHOL Radio. Note that the articles say I trained at Gym 22, but we all know where I did most of my training ;)
Written by Parker Hewes, a chiropractor, author, American Ninja Warrior, and serial adventurer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Parker believes learning and growing are the keys to living a full life. He started Getting Gooder to help others learn and grow, so they can create the happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest lives imaginable.
Parker also knows that our ideal life gets even better when we have others to share it with. So, keep following Parker and the Getting Gooder community as we build our ideal, together.