Mila Stanzani’s ‘Ninja’-Inspired Workout Will Help Strengthen Your Pullups
“The moment I stepped foot into my first ninja gym, I just knew this was the avenue that I wanted to go down,” says Stanzani, who is a regular at the True Function ninja style gym in Swindon, England. “And, ninja sport has taken over my training fully. I enjoy explosive movements such as salmon ladders and flying bars and challenging myself with new obstacles or variations.”
Of course, for us mere mortals, the superhero-like feats that Stanzani, displays may be off the scale, but that doesn’t mean us regular gym goers shouldn’t be implementing obstacle course style training into our own routines.
“It doesn’t matter what level or how good you can become,” she says. “Ninja training is so versatile, it can be anything from balancing, climbing, pull-ups, the rings, anything really. It’s always good to give new things a go, otherwise you never know if you’ll enjoy it or not!”
To get the most out of obstacle course competition, or any type of fitness routine, you will benefit yourself greatly by working on your grip and pullup strength. This type of activity improves strength and mobility in your arms, back, shoulder, and core making it a worthy pass-time for any athlete, so why not give it a try?
To build strength for tasks such as pull-ups and monkey bars, Stanzani says that you should incorporate a combination of exercises that will target the muscles involved in those activities. For optimal results, aim to perform the below workout session two to three times per week. In the beginning, you may find that you cannot complete the full workout, if this is the case split it into different days until you feel able to tackle it in one session.
As you progress to the full workout you can then gradually increase the resistance, quantity of sets, or difficulty of the exercises by reducing the assistance or increasing the weight. Consistency, progressive overload, and proper form is the key to success. You may feel like you need to allow at least one day of rest between each workout session in order for your muscles to recover and adapt.
Mila Stanzani’s Workout for Grip and Pullup Strength Warmup: Begin with 5-10 minutes of light cardio, such as jogging, to get your blood circulation going, warming up your muscles. “Perform some wrist and ankle rotations,” suggests Stanzani, noting that you will be relying on them for hanging and landing. Assisted Pullups: 3 Sets, 8-12 Reps
Start with assisted pull-ups using a resistance band or an assisted pull-up machine. This helps to build the necessary pulling strength for full pull-ups. As with all of these exercises, concentrate on maintaining proper form and control throughout each repetition. Lat Pulldowns: 3 Sets, 8-12 Reps
The latissimus dorsi, the largest muscles in your upper back are essential for pullups, hanging, or raising yourself over a high bar. So, use a lat pulldown machine and gradually increase the weight/resistance as you progress and feel comfortable do to so. Inverted Rows: 3 Sets, 8-12 Reps
Lie down on the floor or on a bench, set up a barbell on a squat rack or smith machine, and make sure that the bar is positioned above the waist. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and pull your chest toward the barbell, keeping your body straight and engaging your back muscles. The inverted row will work all manner of back muscles including the lats, traps, and rhomboids. This exercise will also improve bicep strength which is essential for lifting and controlling body movements while performing pull-ups or travelling along the monkey bars.
As you start out, don’t try to compete with anyone else but yourself. “The most important part is to have fun and enjoy it!” says Stanzani who is now training even harder for the upcoming obstacle course world championship tournament in Belgium.
Hanging Leg Raises: These target the core muscles, and this is vital for stability. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and raise your legs while keeping them straight.
Scapula Pullups: Improve your shoulder extension with scapular pull-ups. With a shoulder-width grip on the bar, begin by hanging then engage the lats by pulling down on the bar to raise your body. As you do so, rotate the shoulders outwards then as you lower, rotate them back towards your ears.
Farmer’s Walk: This exercise is awesome for improving your hand grip, forearm strength, and overall upper body conditioning. If your gym doesn’t have a trap bar, hold a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells by your sides.