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The IMPOSSIBLE Guide to the Salmon Ladder

May 16, 2023 | Joel Runyon

Table of Contents

The IMPOSSIBLE Guide to the Salmon Ladder

So one of the most important thing about doing something impossible is doing stuff that looks cool. And, the Salmon Ladder looks really freaking cool.

If you’re reading this, add this to your impossible list, then start training. Let’s get after it.


What is a Salmon Ladder?

The salmon ladder is a obstacle originating from the show American Ninja Warrior. The salmon ladder gets it’s name from a “fish ladder” – which is a way for fish to move between dams or other artificial barriers.

It’s essentially a plyometric pull-up. You grab a bar like you’re doing a pull-up, but as you get to the top of the pull-up you jump the bar to the next set of rungs. You repeat this, moving up to the ladder until you can complete it.

This is primarily an upper body workout, although you need to have incredible core control to pull it off.

It’s easily one of the coolest looking impossible challenges you can do – assuming you can pull it off.

How to Do the Salmon Ladder Technique (tutorial)

Here’s one of the best tutorials on completing a Salmon Ladder from Drew Dreschel with Crossfit.

How to Train for For The Salmon Ladder

Training tutorial coming soon…

What Gyms Have a Salmon Ladder?

While you might – your best bet is either a ninja-specific gym, a gymnastics studio, or a parkour gym. You might also just be better off making a DIY salmon ladder on your own if you’re really committed to the idea.

The Growing Popularity of the Salmon Ladder

Since it became an obstacle, the salmon ladder has become increasingly popular and whether it’s true or not is often seen as one of the harder obstacles to complete on American Ninja Warrior.

So what’s behind it’s popularity?

The Salmon Ladder on American Ninja Warrior

ANW definitely launched the salmon ladder in to the spotlight. Here are a couple of the most memorable moments of the salmon ladder in ANW history.

Mike Bernado’s Salmon Ladder Climb

Sean Brian on the Salmon Ladder

All Star Skills Competition – Salmon Ladder

Steven Amell’s Salmon Ladder

Besides ANW – Steven Amell’s “Green Arrow” character on the CW’s show “Arrow” also gained quite a bit of popularity. It became a bit of a meme that anytime someone walked into the Arrow’s lair – he was doing the Salmon Ladder.

He even did a short tutorial on how to do the salmon ladder himself

Amell actually learned how to do the workout himself (no stunt doubles here), 

Steven’s Salmon Ladder on American Ninja Warrior

Bring it full circle, he actually did the American Ninja Warrior course himself once – 

And of course – when it came to the salmon ladder portion – he dominated it.

Other resources on the salmon ladder

If you’re not satisfied – here’s a couple other solid resources we found around the web about salmon ladders:

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Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® and MoveWell. In addition to free fitness resources on Impossible Fitness - you can buy performance apparel and supplements on