The 4-Week Spartan Island Ninja Training Program With Grant Mccartney

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The 4-Week Spartan Island Ninja Training Program With Grant Mccartney
Presented by Spartan Training®

Grant Mccartney — known as the Island Ninja — really does live up to his name. 

He’s a seven-time American Ninja Warrior, German Ninja Warrior Grand Champion, Spartan Games competitor, and holds a Guinness Book of World Records title for the most consecutive flying bar jumps (which is 15, by the way). He’s also completed a handful of Spartan races and consistently makes the obstacles look like a walk in the park. 

He grew up a runner and has spent plenty of time tearing up the trails with close friend and fellow Spartan Games competitor, Hunter McIntyre. Plus, Mccartney can hang with some of the fittest athletes out there, whether it’s in his new home gym — outfitted with premium equipment from Titan Fitness, which is perfect for obstacle prep — at a hometown favorite gym of his, Skyline CrossFit, or on the road with fellow popular creators like The Buttery Bros.

Related: 3 Ways to Impress Your Friends With Insane Obstacle Skills

Mccartney is always training for something new (and potentially even unorthodox or non-traditional, such as last year’s underwater swim in the middle of Alaska for a campaign with Ten Thousand). There’s plenty a Spartan can learn from such a beast.

Here, he shares a seven-day blueprint he designed with friend, athlete, and coach Ryan Kucish from Skyline CrossFit to get you fitter, and more obstacle course race-ready than ever. Plus, a series of ninja tips to improve your obstacle proficiency. 

Grant Mccartney

How It Works

The Spartan Island Ninja Training program is a unique combination of cross training and running. Each day has a specific focus that’s designed to prepare you for any component of any obstacle course race, including grip strength, grip endurance, leg strength, balance, and coordination. Mccartney incorporated several pieces of his go-to Titan Fitness equipment for the program, which will translate to real results on the Spartan course including kettlebells, barbell and plates, slam balls, sleds, a fan bike, med balls, and more.


The following program is set up as a seven-day blueprint that you should repeat for several weeks while progressively making it more challenging along the way. For example, if a workout is prescribed “for time,” attempt to either do the workout faster, rest less, or increase the resistance you’re working again. Mccartney says that even one second faster, or one repetition more, is progress. 

Related: Grant Mccartney's Secrets Behind Athletic Success and Obstacle Mastery

*If you’re in preparation for longer races, you can increase your running mileage and reduce your resistance training. If you’re preparing for a shorter race or a DEKA event, do the opposite. 

Train Like the Spartan Island Ninja, Grant Mccartney, for a Week

Grant McCartney


In this workout, the primary goal is to build grip and core strength, which will translate to better obstacle completion and proficiency, especially for any race day carries or climbs. For that reason, Mccartney chose two heavy Titan Kettlebells for farmer carries and the Titan Composite Medicine Ball for his weighted sit-ups.

5 rounds for time:

Accessory work:

  • 3 max dead hangs (1 minute of rest in between each)

5-minute EMOM: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest:

  • Weighted sit-up
  • Weighted medicine ball throws: 14 pounds for women and 20 pounds for men

How to scale it down:

  • Use a lighter dumbbell on the weighted sit-up
  • Do knee raises instead of toes to bar

Grant McCartney 


In this session, Mccartney’s primary goal is to build strength and balance in the legs to avoid any injuries on the course caused by muscular imbalances or instability. Heavy sled pushes and pulls are crucial for building unbreakable knees and hips by strengthening the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, so Mccartney went with a Titan Pro Sled Core Unit, loaded up with Titan Elite Classic Bumper Plates.

5 rounds for time:

  • 50-foot sled push (sled weight: 125 pounds for women, 225 pounds for men)
  • 50-foot sled pull
  • 25 burpees

How to scale it down:

  • Reduce the weight on the sled

10-Minute EMOM: 30 seconds, 30 seconds off:

  • Single-arm dead hangs (switch arms at 15 seconds)

3 sets of 10 reps:

  • Single-leg deadlift

3 sets of 7 reps each leg:

  • Pistols or assisted pistols

Grant McCartney


In this session, Mccartney focuses again on grip strength and coordinating, but with a dose of high-intensity cardio paired with rope climbs to simulate the experience in a race where you transition from running to an obstacle, and then back to running. Mccartney went with the Titan Fan Bike in particular, for the high-intensity cardio as an alternative way to get cardio without logging more running miles.

12-Minute EMOM:

  • Minute 1: Max calorie bike for 30 seconds
  • Minute 2: 2 rope climb climbs

Accessory work:

  • 5 plate flips each hand (choose weight)

How to scale it down:

  • Sprint 100 meters if you don’t have a bike, and do 10 strict pull-ups if you don’t have a rope

Grant McCartney


In this workout, Mccartney’s primary goal is to develop super strong legs to endure the pounding that they'll be taking on race day. After a dose of conditioning work to start the session, he moved on to an ascending ladder of squats with his Titan Cerakote Olympic Barbell and Elite Classic Bumper Plates.

50 wall balls (unbroken), and then 3 rounds of max unbroken knee raises with 1 minute of rest between rounds.

Squats (% of 1-rep max):

  • 12 reps @ 20-30%
  • 10 reps @  40-50%
  • 8 reps @ 60-70%
  • 6 reps @ 70-75%
  • 4 reps @ 75%

Accessory work:

3 sets (as long as possible):

  • High plank holds (alternate lifting arm in front of you) 

5-minute EMOM: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

  • Dumbbell thrusters

How to scale it down:

  • Do air squats

Grant Mccartney


In this workout, Mccartney is going all-in on grip endurance. This will challenge how long you can last during climbs, hangs, and grueling carries. The hero component to this workout is the 200-meter bear hug heavy walks, which will test the grit and endurance of any athlete. Mccartney’s hardware of choice for those carries: the 150-pound Titan Rubber Tread Slam Ball.

5 rounds for time:

  • 200-meter bear hug heavy walks (with use any heavy object)
  • 20 T2B (toes to bar)

Accessory work:

  • Ring pull-up hold (3 rounds archer style; 3 seconds each side, 3 seconds to switch)

How to scale it down:

  • Chin above bar hold (5 rounds of 10 seconds)


Get on the rings, monkey bars, and walls, if possible.

Grant McCartney


Grant Mccartney's Running Schedule

To get the most of Mccartney's strength, conditioning, and obstacle work, couple it with a base of running four times per week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

And to progress in the weeks ahead, attempt to lower the rest time each week and aim to speed up the lap times. Keep Saturday slow and easy. 


6 x 800-meter repeats at an average mile time, with 2 minutes of rest in between


6 x 600-meter repeats at a less-than average mile time, with 2 minutes of rest in between


8 x 400-meter repeats at more than 30 seconds less than an average mile time, with 1 minute and 30 seconds of rest in between


Long slow run (5K or more)

To seriously elevate your obstacle proficiency, check out these pro tips from the Spartan Island Ninja, Grant Mccartney. And, don’t forget to pick a date, commit to a race, and get training with Titan Fitness.

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