American Ninja Warrior Training at Dogpatch Boulders

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If you’re an American Ninja Warrior fan, Megan Martin, Isaac Caldiero, and Noah Tal Kaufman are becoming household names. These climbers have performed well in the TV show and proven that climbers have the finger strength, balance and body awareness to levitate up the Walking Bar, float along the Tilting Slider, and slam dunk the Warped Wall. Their success has inspired non-climbers to take their training to the climbing gym to improve their chances of winning.

Jackelyn Ho, a Nike Elevated trainer and fitness enthusiast, is preparing for American Ninja Warrior as well. This month, her training brought her to Dogpatch Boulders. Check out how she trained at San Francisco’s best bouldering gym! She wrote about her experiences on Sprite.

A month has passed since my first training session for American Ninja Warrior, and in that time, I’ve jumped, crawled, and “exploded” my way through some new movements all in preparation for a shot at the show. (If you’re just tuning in, check out why I’m doing this and read more about Sean, the guy who’s training me. If you know what you’re in for, then please, continue on!)

After my week off from training with Sean, we met back up at Dogpatch Boulders in San Francisco, CA. This 14,000-square-foot bouldering gym has walls that scale up about 17 feet in the air. If you’re not an indoor climbing junkie, you should know that bouldering is different from traditional rock climbing in that you are not harnessed in with a rope. Indoor bouldering is never too high (although those afraid of heights may say otherwise) so that if you happen to slip, you can fall at a safe height onto very heavily padded mats.

So how did we end up here? Many of the Ninja Warrior obstacles call for serious finger-gripping strength, and climbers have some of the best grip strength I’ve ever seen. Sean is an avid climber, so hanging out here was second nature for him. Here’s how he put it to me: “The best way to increase your grip strength, relative to hanging, would be doing exercises that simulate it as closely as possible. So first dead-hanging on a bar, then maybe rings, then jugs in a climbing gym, then a campus board rung, then eventually really small rungs.” If you need some help dissecting the lingo in that quote, check out this climbing dictionary, but basically: I need to hang from a lot of things, and they’ll get smaller and smaller as I get stronger.

This week’s takeaway? I will never take my forearm strength for granted ever again.

Ninja Warrior Training at Dogpatch Boulders


Start on the kiddie wall

  • Place hands and feet onto the “rock” holds, but keep knees bent. Stretch out shoulders by swaying side to side.


  • This means to climb without feet.
  • To start, I did a V0 climb — the easiest level of bouldering climb — with my feet.
  • Then, I tackled it with just my arms. I could only do one or two holds before fatiguing. I found it pretty difficult and awkward to lift myself up, but it’s all about technique.

Dead hang grips

  • We identified some holds with only about 1.5″ of space for my fingers to grip.
  • First, I just tried to hang from there. That was difficult …
  • … but then we took it to the next level by having me grab onto the next hold, about 8″ above my starting position.
  • I tried this move about 5 times. I touched the second hold a few times, but I couldn’t really hang on for longer than a half second. The key to getting better? Stronger forearms.
American Ninja Warrior training at Dogpatch Boulders


Thanks for your workout beta Jackelyn! To read the entire article, click here