HOW TO DESIGN AN AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR COURSE Like a Pro

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Introduction: HOW TO DESIGN AN AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR COURSE Like a Pro

Pro Tips Challenge

This is an entry in the
Pro Tips Challenge

Every week, millions of viewers tune in to NBC's American Ninja Warrior, to watch as ninjas from every walk of life attempt to complete a series of iconic obstacles of increasing difficulty in the hope of becoming an American Ninja Warrior. To many American Ninja Warrior is just a source of entertainment but to many its a way of life. As the American Ninja Warrior community grows and gyms start coming up all over the world there has a been an increase in the need for ninja specific training tools and course plans. This is my first instructable and I am in the process of making three more American Ninja Warrior styled instructables. I have now completed building more than 10 different backyard courses (i'm pretty much an expert ninja warrior course builder) and through this Instructable I hope to aid people all over the world enjoy American Ninja Warrior as much as I do. In this instructable i will give you my pro tips on creating your own american ninja warrior course

Step 1: Designing Your Own Course

There are many things to consider when designing a Ninja Warrior training course in your backyard or home. Many people think that they can just go to home depot, get materials and start building. Sadly its not that easy and there is alot that goes into creating a safe Ninja Warrior training course,but the result is what will create lasting memories and help you in your journey to become the next American Ninja Warrior. There are many things to consider when looking to build a ninja course.

Things to consider:

One of the most important things to consider is where to place your new American Ninja Warrior course. The first thing is to make sure you are allowed to construct the course, some neighborhoods with associations require prior approval from the board of directors.Another thing to consider regarding the spacing and location of your course is to make sure that your course is on your property (you dont want to deal with your neighbors). Also consider talking to your neighbors prior to construction and informing them what you plan to build and get their thoughts. When looking to build an American ninja warrior course you must also think about is what obstacles you plan to include and the sizing of your course. Most backyard courses start at around 8ftx10ftx12ft but the size can change based on the obstacles desired and the complexity of your course. Another thing to consider is the cost of your course. Be sure to design your course before actually beginning your construction this will help you save both time and money. Building a Ninja course starts at around $200.00 and increase drastically based on frame materials,obstacles, and location. When designing your course it is also important to think about the purpose of the course and the users. Things to consider include user age, skill of the users, obstacles you want to include. Another to consider is safety make sure that you always plan for safety issues look at local building codes and be sure to buy plenty of safety mats. It is also important to use the right size metal,Pipe, and wood this will prevent the structure from breaking and causing injury. Plan for any scenario and also build with care and safety in mind.

When designing a course the first thing I always do is choose the obstacles I want to include. I list it out and estimate the sizing of each obstacle. After choosing the obstacle i want i create a rough design of the course on paper with dimensions and obstacles I hope to include (This step is very important). Having a good design will help you when you design a digital design or a more detailed sketch. Whenever I design a new Ninja Warrior course i use sketchup as a 3d rendering tool. Sketchup is a very easy to use software and will help you visualize what your are going to be constructing. whether you sketch your design out by hand or design it digitally it is important to make a list of the hardware you plan to use and the materials.

For this instructable I chose to use a L-shaped design with a platform on top. This course will be very similar to a treeless tree house. This American Ninja Warrior tree house will feature a salmon ladder for access to the top as well as a set of stairs for less skilled ninjas. The course will feature a variety of obstacles. For this design I will be using wood for the construction. This just One design you can use metal pipe, Square steel and just about anything.

Step 2: Construct Your Course

After completing your designs for your American Ninja Warrior course it is now time to start building the course itself. The first step is determine what materials you will need and gather the materials and tools needed for this course I will be using the following Materials. During the construction Process i didnt take any picture but I will walk you through the steps of how i built the course.

The first step in almost every Ninja course is setting the posts. used 4x4 PT posts for the posts, and ¾” conduit for horizontal rails between the posts. The conduit was inexpensive, each to install, and would preserve our view. The conduit was also fairly easy (and fun!) to bend, which came in handy for the ladder railing, and an interior railing around the loft ladder opening.

Before installing the deck boards, I installed the posts since I still had access to the joists. Prior to installing the posts, I cut each post to about long, and marked each post exactly 48" from the top. I would line up this mark with the top of the joist that the post secured to to ensure the tops of each post would line up with each other. I then drilled holes in each post for the rails. Using the 48” mark, I evenly spaced holes and drilled them using a guide to ensure they were perpendicular to the face of the post. The guide also let me set the depth of each hole, which I set to just under half the thickness of the post. To accommodate ¾ conduit for the railings, the diameter of the holes was slightly larger than the outer diameter of the conduit. Depending on where the posts were to be positioned on the platform, I drilled the holes in one face, two parallel faces, or on perpendicular faces of the posts. I decided to secure each post to a joist, where the joist meets the fascia; I opted not to secure the posts to the fascia so I could achieve a nice, clean look (without seeing bolt heads randomly positioned along the fascia), and because the joists were able to bear more of a load than the fascia. I used two galvanized bolts, washers, nuts and lock washers to secure each post to the joist. Before I drilled the holes in the posts and joists, I positioned the posts exactly where I wanted them. To help hold the posts in place while positioning and leveling them, I temporarily screwed a 2x4 brace to the post so that its bottom edge was flush with the 48" mark. I then laid the 2x4 on the joist to gently hold it in place, leveled the post (clamped the level to the post to keep both my hands free), and clamped the post the joist with a heavy-duty ratchet clamp. When the post was plumb and securely clamped, I drilled through the post and joist to accommodate passage of the bolt. Using a ratchet, I secured each bolt in place and then removed the 2x4 brace. To install the rails, I cut them with a saw about 1-2” longer than the space between adjacent posts, and was able to slide the first end in one post, and slide/push the second end in the other post. I wanted the rails just short enough (to maximize their lengths) to fit, which often required a few trial-and-error-cuts per rail. The rails are also relatively easily removable, in case I want them off the facilitate access to materials. In the future, I may add some caulk where each rail meets each post for a more permanent connection. (During the building process, after I knew I wouldn’t need further access, and when my wife wanted extra safety, I added top rails made from extra deck boards. I also ripped a few boards on my table saw, screwed them to the upper portions of each post, and just below the top rails.)

The 2x8 PT floor joists are generally spaced 16 inches apart (on center) I marked one of the support beams (the “first beam”) where I planned to position each joist; I did not mark the second support beam as the two beams are not exactly parallel to each other.


Since didnt want to screw the deck boards and the plywood floor into a single joist, I used two joists spaced fairly close together (3 inches) at the intersection of the deck and house (I added these extra joists after these pictures were taken). Tip: To determine this space between these two closely-spaced joists, you should account for the thickness of the sheathing and siding (including corner pieces) if plan to have a post (supporting a railing) next to the house. I wound up changing to a thicker siding material during the build, so I had to trim the corners of the siding to fit behind the post. To install the joists, I cut each joist to the same length (16 feet), marked the location of the joist I wanted to line up with the first beam (about 5 feet from the edge), and positioned the joist across the two support beams based on the marked location on the first beam and the marked location on each joist. To temporarily secure the joist to the beam, I screwed the joist down at an angle into the first beam. I then squared each joist to the first beam using a 2-foot square, and screwed each joist into the second beam. Since there are many forces acting on the joists, including upward force from wind and as a result of the cantilever design I’m using, after temporarily securing each joist, I secured each joist to each support beam with a hurricane strap using structural screws. I generally used the longest structural screw possible for maximum strength. After all the joists were secured, I added bracing between the joists to help stabilize the joists, and to help prevent movement of one joist with respect to each other

For aesthetic and structural reasons, I decided to install 2X8 PT fascia board on both the front side and back side across all the joists. The fascia board effectively secures all joists to each other, thus creating a robust frame for the deck and floor.


Before positioning the fascia board in place, I glued the face of each joist with liquid nails to further the robustness of the connection. To help ensure the top of the fascia board was flush with the top of each joist, and to help support the fascia board during installation, I temporarily screwed a 2x4 to the top edge of the fascia. I was then able to lift the fascia (with 2x4 attached) and position the 2x4 on top of the joists, thereby aligning the top of fascia with the top of the joists. After clamping the fascia to the joists, I screwed the fascia into each joist with 2-3 screws per joist (and then removed the 2x4 from the fascia). I wound up using two fascia boards for each of the front and back, mitered where the fascia boards met each other, and positioned the mitered edges on the same joist. For the spaces in front of and behind the trees, I secured a 2x8 perpendicularly between two adjacent joists using joist hangers and structural screws, and added additional joists between these 2x8s and the fascia board.


For the decking, I used typical PT deck boards; for the floor, I used ¾” tongue and groove plywood. I opted not to use pressure treated wood for the floor because the floor wouldn’t be exposed to weather. After cutting the plywood to size, the challenging part was lifting the 8x4 sheets onto the joists. I wound up making a ramp by leaning two pieces of lumber between the ground and the fascia board. I positioned my ladder between the lumber, and pushed the plywood up the ramp while climbing the ladder. Success. I used liquid nails (for subfloors), and 3-3 ½” deck screws to glue and screw the plywood into place. I also staggered the seams of the different pieces of plywood.

I chose to use traditional PT deck boards as they were readily available, and they were available 20’ lengths, which was the longest length I’d need. The installation of the deck boards was quite similar to installing a traditional deck, apart from the tress going through it. If you look at the edge of each deck board, you’ll see that the grain is curved in one direction – it’s curved to the bark (or where the bark used to be). I decided to install all the boards bark-up (curved side up), so as they flatten over time the center of the board is pushed down. I also paid attention to the ink stamping on the boards and either installed them all face down (when possible based on my bark-up installation) or cut off the stamped portions (they are usually close to the ends). During installation, I aligned all the edges that were adjacent the plywood (using about a 1.5” spacer; depending on how you’ll finish the treehouse), and intentionally left the other edges (adjacent the end of the deck) long, as I would later snap a chalk line and cut off all the edges at once to give me a nice finished look (and to save time with precise measuring).

Since most deck boards are not totally straight, I screwed one end of the board to the joist below using two 3” (coated) deck screws, and I used clamps to push or pull the other end of the board into a straight line, using nails as spacers, and then continued to screw the rest of the deck board into each joist with two screws.

Step 3: Inspiration

Here is a link to my Ninja Warrior Pinterest and Youtube Playlist with many Ninja course ideas.

Youtube Play List https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLy1Nuu0nKtJN4LBtWrQktO4orMHRTjv5z

Pinterest Link https://www.pinterest.com/jonmadak4525/american-ninja-warrior-course/

Step 4: Closing Thoughts

Well There you have it you have now successfully designed and built an American Ninja Warrior course. I hope that this instructable helped Below I have included some Final tips. If you have any questions please be sure to let me know.

Tip: Order at least 10-20% extra lumber, and MANY more screws than you think. I generally used coated screws for the entire project instead of nails, as the movement of the treehouse may cause the nails to pop out over time. For a treehouse about this size, I’d say to buy a 25 lb box of 3” screws, which is much less expensive than buying five 5 lb boxes.

Tip: Keep your materials organized

Tip: As with all Projects measure twice and cut once

Tip: Always wear safety glasses and be safe while using tool.

Tip: Keep safety in mind never try to take shortcuts in the building process

Here is a list of websites that May be helpful

http://www.threeballclimbing.com/ (ninja warrior training holds)

https://www.atomikclimbingholds.com/ (ninja warrior training holds)

www.monstro.ninja (ninja warrior training holds)

www.ninjawarriorblueprints.com/backyardbuildernati... (ready made obstacle course plans)

www.ninjawarriorsolutions.com (Pre-made Ninja warrior obstacles and rigs)

https://www.american-gymnast.com/product-category/... ( Pre-made Ninja warrior obstacles and rigs)

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WOULD LIKE ANY INFORMATION LEAVE ME A COMMENT BELOW. I AM CURRENTLY WORKING ON AN INSTRUCTABLE WITH DETAILS ON HOW YOU CAN BUILD YOUR OWN OBSTACLES AND NINJA HOLDS AS WELL AS ONE COMING UP ON HOW TO OPEN A NINJA WARRIOR GYM.

MOST OF ALL HAVE FUN!!!

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