Becoming an American Ninja Warrior takes more than working out. Sure, a warrior workout is no joke, but as Team YOLKED® Ambassador and ANW Athlete, Amy Pajcic can attest, becoming a warrior involves dialing in her recovery and nutrition, too.
We sat down with Amy and asked her to share her warrior workout secrets in and out of the gym.
Warrior Workout Secrets: Interview with Team YOLKED ANW Athlete, Amy Pajcic
What got you started training for ANW?
It’s hard to pinpoint a time when I really “started” training for ninja. Where I’m at now is a result of my entire life, from playing “the floor is lava” and running around as a kid to track and cross country.
I’ve been rock climbing since 2010, but my organized ninja specific training began November of 2013, when Michelle Warnky and I were preparing for World’s Toughest Mudder (a 24 hour obstacle course race). It was a few months prior to my first appearance on ANW. I already had a pretty decent base, so I wasn’t starting from scratch.
What does it take to train to be an American Ninja Warrior?
So, what does it take to be an American Ninja Warrior?
“It takes the right balance of grip strength and endurance, balance and agility, obstacle technique and finesse, and the ability to think quick on your feet and improvise.”
Basically you have to be good at everything and have great all around fitness, so therefore, my training is quite varied.
Tell us about your physical preparation
I do typical lifting in the gym with a little more emphasis on shoulders and back, but you still need the overall balance, so remember to work all the muscle groups. I usually hit the gym 2-3 times a week. I run 5-6 days a week. That is not as important for ninja, but I need the running for obstacle course racing (OCR), which helps the obstacle training for ninja significantly. I go to the rock gym 1-2 times a week.
On a less routine basis, I go to ninja gyms to practice specific obstacles or skills, but whenever I’m out and about, I never pass up an opportunity to make obstacles out of everyday objects, whether it be parking curbs, benches, pillars, etc.
Tell us about your recovery – How many days do you recover and what do you usually do to keep your body healthy?
Added to the. “Ninja fitness routine,” I usually have 1-2 complete “recovery days”, where I don’t run or go to the gym. And, after harder workouts, I make it a point to do some stretching and foam rolling. If I’m lucky, I can find a buddy to exchange a massage with.
Do you have any Warrior nutrition secrets?
I don’t really follow a strict diet. I am a fan of “everything in moderation.” Completely eliminating a food group or jumping on the fad diets are typically not healthy or sustainable.
“I do supplement after workouts with YOLKED and some BCAAs or protein powder to help recover quicker and to get the most out of my workouts.”
No matter what you eat, if you don’t put in the work, you won’t get the results.
For ANW, the goal is to maximize the body weight to strength ratio, so closer to competition I try to be a little more mindful with portion control.
What have you been doing since last time to improve?
Since last year, I have been working on my balance, as that is where I feel the least confident. Like I said earlier, obstacles are everywhere. I use sidewalk curbs, barricades, bike racks, wire fencing, and in addition I’ve done some more slack line work.
What do people get wrong about Ninjas?
I think one thing that people are always surprised with is that the ninjas tend to be fairly humble and down to earth.
It’s one of those sports where it’s not so much you vs. me, but everyone vs the course. There is a lot of comradery.
Additionally, it is a humbling sport, because we are ALWAYS failing in training.
“If you aren’t failing on obstacles, you aren’t challenging yourself enough.”
There are always new things to try, new twists to old obstacles etc, so there is always room for improvement.
What do you like to do “for fun”?
“What do I do for fun? This is fun!”
Being a ninja is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle that allows you to see the possibility in the mundane things and make fun out of any situation. We all identify as ninjas. But, my favorite hobbies outside of ninja, OCR, and climbing include traveling (it is my goal in life to visit all of the national parks) painting and horseback riding.
Becoming a YOLKED Ninja
Let’s face it! Becoming a warrior takes more than 100s of pullups in the gym. For all those hours of training, recovery is essential. Recover clean with YOLKED®, scientifically proven to help your body utilize protein more efficiently to build lean muscle and improve recovery.