The fitness you actually need on Ninja Warrior

It’s the one thing all winning Ninja Warriors have in common and what those who crash out don’t.  

Photos: Instagram @katie_tham69

This article initially appeared on and has been republished here with permission.

It's a gargantuan hit filled with gargantuan bodies, but it turns out it takes more than physical strength to tackle the extreme course that is Ninja Warrior.

In fact, the few who have made it to the top of the gruelling courses on Ninja Island have such different body shapes there’s only one thing they share in common.

They’ll need more of this ability than ever before for the upcoming grand final; only seven have conquered Mount Midoriyama — a gigantic steel structure in the form of a Japanese mountain — in 20 years.

And as contestant Ryan Roberts, aka Tarzan, discovered in last night’s episode, one small mistake is all it takes.

According to Coach, those who have run the gargantuan courses say that despite the physical strength required to get through the series of obstacles that Ninja Warrior presents, the ultimate ability lies with grip strength.

“Grip strength is a fantastic predictor of overall body strength,” fitness trainer Ben Greenfield wrote in a blog about grip strength.

“Just think about it: not only does nearly every sport that exists, from swimming to wrestling … and beyond require extremely high activity levels of the thirty-five tiny gripping muscles in your forearms and hand but most common activities of daily living also rely upon adequate strength and endurance in these muscles too, including typing, doing the dishes, carrying laundry and even sex.”

Greenfield cited sport scientist Thomas Kurz’s book, Science of Sports, which recommends measuring your handgrip strength using “something called a grip dynamometer to reveal the strength and physical readiness of an athlete”.

According to a 2015 study by Canadian researchers, a strong grip is also a great predictor of how long you might live.

“Grip strength is appealing as a simple, quick, and inexpensive means of stratifying an individual’s risk of cardiovascular death,” the study found.

Take heed, ninjas, otherwise you may end up in the drink.

Ryan Roberts is nicknamed Tarzan for a reason, swinging through the Australian Ninja Warrior obstacle course in record time. Courtesy: Channel 9/Australian Ninja Warrior

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