As I’m a few months new to anything obstacle course training related, in my mind I knew it would be upper body labor intensive. In reality, it’s even harder than I thought! Forearms, biceps, lats, shoulders, hands, fingers – all of this and more get’s a grueling workout.
You can lift weights, do pushups, pull-ups and be strong as a bull – this can all help of course. But I wasn’t ready for how sore my shoulders and hands would be. I didn’t know my fingernails could hurt. As with anything there is an adaptation period related to a new stimulus and demand. This is the S.A.I.D. principle at its best – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Obstacle course training of this nature demands one adapts or fails miserably.
Since I’m not a rock climber or anything related, the hands and shoulder issues were by far the hardest to adapt too (and still adapting). As far as adapting shoulders to lots of hanging and pulling in addition to jarring movements when transitioning – work various hand grip positions. In addition to working the obstacles, train with overhand, underhand and neutral grip pulls. This varies where the stress is placed on the shoulders when they are in an overhead position.
Next is too work on very specific grip training. At the Ninja Park there are rings, pistons, cannon balls, bars, wrist rollers and rock rings. The rock rings are very new to me and these secret and simple items are great for working on pulling along with grip – all in one. Since they are not fixed mounted, you can do pull-ups on single or multiple fingers and change hand grip position on the fly.
Something I started doing at home was towel pull-ups – two small towels over a pull-up bar and there you have upper body, hands, finger and arm training on the cheap. Other options are rings, cannon balls, power pistons and pinch grip trainers that can be used at home.
As it is today, Ninja obstacle course training leans towards upper body strength and endurance training – so get a grip and get to work.