State of the Union – American Ninja Warrior 3 Prep

I’ve had many people ask me, mostly people from my “regular life” who were quite surprised by my participation in American Ninja Warrior 2, if I planned on continuing my obsession to compete in Ninja Warrior. Most of them I guess thought it would be a one-time “one and done” type of experience, and that a middle-aged dad of three like me would be happy just to have had the experience. Let me be clear…I ain’t done by a long shot!

I realize that getting accepted to compete in American Ninja Warrior 3 this summer is going to be tougher than ever. G4 did a fantastic job with the production and promotion of the show, and now more people than ever want to compete, meaning both getting accepted into the competition and then outperforming these tough competitors on the actual course is an increasingly tall order. I hope hope hope that they let me in to compete again! I’ve been working hard training and adding new skills, and plan on getting my application video together in the next few weeks to submit.

As I stand on the precipice of another run at my dream, I thought I’d give an honest assessment of where I am in my preparation. I’ll use the same structure as my original training plan, although I’ll be making some subsequent tweaks I believe once I complete my submission video and transition into hard-core training mode.

GRIP STRENGTH & ENDURANCE – To quote myself, there is no substitute for a kung fu iron grip.  Jumping and grabbing stuff, swinging and grabbing stuff, grabbing stuff and climbing a lot…it is part of the DNA of Ninja Warrior.  This would have been my strongest relative area entering the last competition if I hadn’t been sporting an injured hand.  Anyway, my hand healed nicely in the couple of months after the competition last August, and I’d regained by grip strength training at the rock-climbing gym a couple of days a week through the fall, but then unfortunately flared up a nasty case of tendinitis in my left shoulder from over-training.  I tried to force through it, but that only made it worse.  Eventually I was forced to lay off the rock-climbing and weight-training for a couple of months at the beginning of this year, with the expected side-effect of losing strength and endurance (particularly endurance).  So, I am behind where I want to be, but since my shoulder is mostly healed and this is a relative strong point anyway, I’m not too concerned about being up to snuff for competition as long as I can stay healthy.

GENERAL STRENGTH – See point above about having to lay off the training for a couple of months until a few weeks ago.  I’m behind where I want to be in general, but not too far.  I do need to focus more on leg strength specific to the Spider Jump/Wall, which is where I fell in the last competition.  I’m been working on this while my shoulder has been healing through parkour and some calisthenics, but I really need to jam here because the Spider Jump/Wall must be mastered!

“BURST CARDIO” – I think I’m actually pretty good here.  Last year I was just hitting the cardio machines at the gym for a couple of insane 30 minute workouts a week, and had great overall cardio, but what I didn’t have was that very short intense cardio that obstacle courses require.  My parkour training has given me great conditioning for this I think, as we do a lot of short burst stuff hitting the obstacle courses they set up for us.  I think I could still get better here, no doubt, but I’m better than I was last year I think.

FLEXIBILITY – This flexibility goal was key in both conditioning my body against injury (particularly my old cranky back) and for regaining some lost speed and bounce from younger days.  I’ve definitely been failing here…I need to not only stretch more, but maybe find a way to go to yoga once a week which has made a big difference for me historically.  But time in my life is at a premium these days between kids, some family stuff, and starting a new business, and I’ve been failing to get this done.  I need to focus more energy here, particularly as my cranky back has been acting up again recently.  The silver lining here is that due to my parkour training I have decent bounce and speed in my legs again.  Not quite sure if I can dunk again…might have to try that for the application video.

WEIGHT LOSS – I’m not at my target weight for the last competition, which was 205, but I am at my actual competition weight of about 214.  Given that I started last year at 227, and went up to about 222 over the scrumptious winter holidays, I’m glad to be “starting” my stretch run training much closer to my goal.  If I can compete at 205 I’d be pretty elated, even though this is still significantly heavier than most of the other competitors.

So, in total, I’ve got some work to do!  Closer to being competition ready than I was when I started last year, but not where I ultimately want to be.  The good news is that there’s time and my shoulder has recovered, so I’m ready for the stretch run, reinforced by the hope that they’ll actually let me in!