It's tough to sit through a run of American Ninja Warrior without cringing, gasping audibly, or screeching, Oh my god, how do they do that?! If you're not familiar with the NBC show, now in its ninth season, it's an athletic competition that involves completing a series of timed Herculean obstacles. The people who compete make Olympians look clumsy, and their strength and agility can only be described as, well, ninja-like.
The Ninjas are average people, with normal jobs, whose workout of choice just happens to be American Ninja Warrior. Preparing for a competition is a little more nuanced that training for a 10-K, or doing CrossFit. Each Ninja has their own, unique training plan and philosophy, but many Ninjas rock climb, lift weights, and do pull-ups to build strength for some sport-specific tasks.
When you watch the show, you only get to see the finished product, not the hours of training that goes into it. While it looks like the Ninjas can pull off the course with the greatest of ease, it takes dedication and immense skill. We asked three real Ninjas, Barclay Stockett, Jessie Graff, and Allyssa Beird, what it takes to train to be an American Ninja Warrior. Their stories might inspire you to climb on something crazy — or, at the very least, go to the gym yourself.