We’ve all imagined ourselves powering through the stages of American Ninja Warrior and performing superhuman feats of strength. While most serious competitors improve their strength and technique at specialized gyms with warped walls and cliffhangers, you can kick-start ninja training at any regular gym.
We asked “Cowboy Ninja” Lance Pekus, a team captain on the new show Team Ninja Warrior on Esquire Network, for the essential Ninja Warrior exercises. All of the compound moves he recommends can be done with basic equipment, and they’ll develop grip strength in addition to the large-muscle groups they target. That’s because so many obstacles require you to grab objects and support your weight with only your hands, says Pekus. “Without a good grip you’ll fall in the water.” Here, the eight key moves Pekus says to add to your training, along with how to combine them for a Ninja Warrior–worthy workout.