Work Out Like: An American Ninja Warrior

We asked Nate Brosey, an American Ninja Warrior contestant living in Newton, how he trains.
Nate Brosey

Brosey competing on American Ninja Warrior. Photo by Adam Larkey/NBC

Nate Brosey decided to audition for American Ninja Warrior, the ultra-difficult NBC obstacle course show, with little fanfare.

“My wife and I were watching it and she looked over at me and said, ‘You could definitely do this stuff,'” he remembers. “And I said, ‘Yeah, I think so.'”

As it turned out, Brosey, 35, could, indeed, do that stuff. The Newton resident, who owns the gym Action Athletics with his wife, was twice selected for the show, competing in the 2013 qualifier in Baltimore and the 2014 qualifier in Denver. Both years, he was eliminated on the fifth element—which, both years, involved grabbing onto and scaling a net. (When asked if getting out on the same skill twice drives him crazy, Brosey quickly and emphatically says it does.)

Brosey, along with his wife, are going out for the show’s next season, and he’s doing the bulk of his training at Action Athletics, where he’s duplicated many of the obstacles from the show. On November 7 and 8, in fact, the gym will host the Ninja Skills Invitational, which will include appearances from celebrity and local Ninjas, a kids competition, and a competition open to anybody interested in trying out the obstacles.

Wondering how you should prepare for the event? We asked Brosey—who goes by “Doctor Obstacle” around his gym—all about how an American Ninja Warrior trains.

The philosophySince the course is constantly changing, Brosey says the key is working on general skills, not preparing for specific elements. “People who just prepare for certain obstacles tend to be surprised when they find obstacles they haven’t prepared for,” he says. “We try to identify the different skill sets that it takes to be successful, so developing grip strength, developing upper body dexterity, developing power in the legs and core engagement and overall dynamic movement.”

The workoutBrosey says he devotes roughly 20 hours per week to his own training, in addition to his day job as a personal trainer. Here’s how he does it:

Morning: “I start with a good amount of stretching,” he says. “It’s 25, 30 minutes of foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling and softball rolling and rubber bands—anything to get my joints to loosen up.” After that, he moves onto bar calisthenics, like pull-ups and and hanging leg raises, and grip work exercises using hang boards, TRX trainers, and kettlebells. Next, he dives into personal training appointments.

Afternoon: Afternoons are devoted to training on the many Ninja-style obstacles Brosey has recreated at the gym, including a full-sized Warped Wall.

Evening: “In the evening I do cardio, just to keep the weight down and keep burning calories,” he says, noting that staying light and agile on the course is as important as strength training. Running is his go-to for cardio, but he also incorporates swimming, boxing, surfing, and parkour into his routine.

The diet: For most of the year, Brosey says he just tries to follow a generally healthy eating plan. “It’s a lot of fresh foods, minimal ingredients, a lot of vegetables, grilled steaks and chicken, pretty much light fare most of the time,” he says. When he’s trying to slim down for the show, he adheres to the Whole30 diet, which cuts out sugar, dairy, grains, and legumes.

The Ninja Skills Invitational will be held November 7 and 8 at Action Athletics, 217 California St. 1A, Newton, 617-916-9957, a2personaltraining.com. Registration is $50 and can be done here.


Jamie Ducharme Jamie Ducharme, Contributor jducharme@bostonmagazine.com