The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Workout

ninja_turtles

I grew up with Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Not literally. That would have been sweet, though.

But I did spend the formative years of my childhood wondering what it would be like to be part of the Ninja Turtle team: learning from Master Splinter (aka Mister Miyagi in Rat form), sneaking around, saving the world, and eating pizza ALL DAY. Wow, did they really nail the trifecta.

In fact, I think my entire existence is a combination of the following:

With Michael Bay taking a crack at rebooting this franchise (which I’m not sold on), I thought I should at least pay homage to the original Ninja Turtles who inspired me to run around my house in TMNT pajamas, swinging plastic swords and nunchucks made out of sticks, and fighting an imaginary Shredder to help save New York City.

To go along with our other nerdy workouts (Legend of Zelda, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars), today I’ve created a workout designed to turn you into a legitimate ninja. I can’t do much about turning your skin green though.

The Ninja Turtles Workout

turtle bus

If you’re going to BECOME a Ninja Turtle, we need to focus on a few key things:

  • Mobility
  • Balance
  • Power
  • Strength

Strength and size are important, but they mean nothing if they hinder movement.  It’s tough to be a ninja turtle if your movements and attacks are slow (and thus easy to block or dodge), so strength and power must be accompanied by an equal amount of agility.

This means we’ll be working on our mobility too. Our limbs will be our weapons…until Splinter decides which weapons fit our fighting style.

Got it. We need mobility, balance, power, and strength.

Let’s look at how we’re going to earn each of those things:

  • MOBILITY: We need to be able to move freely in every direction.  Kicks behind us, punches above us, cartwheels and somersaults to dodge danger, and dance skills that impress even Vanilla Ice.
  • BALANCE: If we’re going to be climbing on roofs and doing backflips through mobs of bad guys, we’ll need to make sure our balance is at ninja level.
  • POWER: Our focus will be on explosive movements that recruit multiple muscles and have them working in unison to accomplish a single goal: maximum force.
  • STRENGTH: If we are training for strength, we will keep the reps low and difficulty high, building tight, dense muscle.  We’ll be doing exercises that don’t require a gym, as you never know where you’ll be training as a Ninja.

Ninja Mobility

kick

Without mobility, our power and speed are useless.  

Without balance, our attacks will leave us open to counterattack.

Thus, each workout (and every morning when not training) should begin with mobility drills to keep us limber.  This is doubly important if your non-ninja responsibilities include sitting at a desk all day.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING MOBILITY WARM UP BEFORE TRAINING:

Seems like a crazy warm-up right?  Depending on your current level of fitness, THIS could feel like a complete workout!  The important thing is to not fly through this warm up quickly, but rather to use each movement to stretch your muscles and joints out and get them prepared to actually begin training.

If you cannot complete all movements through full range of motion, that’s okay! DO THE BEST YOU CAN.

Once you complete your warm-up above, I want you to work on your WRIST mobility.  Here’s a video from Anthony Mychal (AKA my “Splinter”) doing a complete wrist and finger warm-up (which is going to help us for the next activity).  Notice the killer NF T-shirt.

Anthony Mychal Wrist Warm-Up

I realize the above seems like a tremendous amount of warm up – however, if your goal is to become a fearsome fighting machine…or even if you just want to not have your hips and joints crack every time you do anything remotely physical, working on mobility is CRUCIAL.

This Ninja Warm Up is actually the exact routine I follow each morning and before every workout.  7 months straight of intense power lifting and gymnastic work and zero issues – because I’ve focused on my mobility.

Ninja Balance

donatello

Now that we’ve completed our Ninja Warm Up, it’s time to focus on our balance.

Specifically, I want you to learn and get really good at handstands.

We’ve already covered handstands in a previous post (including a great progression for those that can’t do handstands), so I won’t go too in depth today.

Handstands are a fantastic way to build strength and endurance, both mental and physical.  If you’ve ever attempted to hold a freestanding handstand perfectly still for longer than half a second, your brain must be in line with every muscle in your body.

So, after you’ve completed your warm-up, including your wrists and fingers, spend five minutes working on your handstands.

Depending on your skill, that could mean:

  • Wall planks
  • Handstands against the wall
  • Freestanding handstands

I don’t care where you start, I just want you to start.  This is one of the most difficult moves to conquer, due to it requiring strong mental will, physical endurance, and muscular strength.  So, before we move onto power and strength, we must first apply all efforts into building our balance.

Looking for more? After you have completed your five minutes of practice on handstands, do 10 cartwheels in each direction, using the following as a guide:

Cartwheel

As with Ninja Mobility above, we can complete Ninja Balance every single day too, and it is strongly recommended.  

Ninja power

michaelangelo

Now that we’ve completed Ninja Mobility, and Ninja Balance, we can move onto the bread and butter of the routine: 

Combine speed with strength and we have the most important attribute: Ninja POWER.

This is the reason why Bruce Lee, a relatively small dude could deliver such force with a one inch punch and six inch punch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en2nM-7XIe4

It was strength combined with speed – thus power.

We’re going to start with a superset (do one set of the first movement, then immediately do one set of the second movement. After rest, repeat that cycle two more times).

MOVEMENT ONE:

Pick the movement that provides you with the most challenge: 

  • If you are new to fitness, focus on simple vertical jumps. Jump as high as you can.
  • If you are a bit more advanced, do hurdle jumps. You don’t have to jump over an actual hurdle – any object that is a challenging height will do.
  • If you are a true ninja, work on box jumps. Pick a height that is challenging but achievable. When you land on the box, stand up straight and then step down (don’t jump down).

Jump as HIGH as you can, really focusing on explosive vertical movement.

MOVEMENT TWO:

In each of these movements your goal is to LAUNCH yourself off the wall/bench/floor with such velocity that your hands leave the surface.

Here is a plyometric push up for example (from our Nerd Fitness Academy):

If this is too challenging, you can do a similar movements by doing your push ups on the side of a bench, or even against a wall.

To recap, complete 3 circuits of Ninja Power:

  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups
  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups
  • 10 Reps of Jumps
  • 10 Reps of Plyometric Push-ups

Ninja Strength

raphael

Okay, so now we’re warmed up, we’ve improved our balance, we’ve dumped the lion’s share of our efforts into POWER, and now we can build another crucial component of being a Ninja Turtle: Strength.

Speed is key, but only when combined with strength does its impact become exponential.

We’re going to do three bodyweight movements that are 100% focused around building a strong, dense muscle.  If you’re wondering how we’re going to do that without picking up any weights, take a look at any gymnast – that muscle is built using only bodyweight movements.

We’re going to think about this in three basic ways:

  • LEGS
  • PUSH
  • PULL

Complete 3 sets of ten reps of each exercise below, and then move onto the next movement. As SOON as you can complete 3 sets of 10 reps, increase the difficulty by ranking up!  The goal is to consistently up the challenge – this is what builds tight, dense muscle.

LEGS (3 sets of 10 Reps)

PULL (3 sets of 10 reps)

PUSH (3 sets of 10 reps)

So to recap:

  • 3 sets of 10 reps of LEGS
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PULL
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PUSH

WHEW!  By the time you’ve completed the STRENGTH Portion of the TMNT Workout, you should be pretty worn out, but hopefully happy that you’ve started walking down a path towards becoming a true Ninja (Turtle).

Finish up your workout with a solid cool down stretching routine and you’ll be ready to complete this workout again two days from now. Remember, give your muscles 48 hours to recover, especially if the workout is particularly taxing!

Go Ninja Go Ninja Go

turtles

Thus concludes your ninja training for today. Here is a recap:

MOBILITY AND BALANCE:

  • 5-10 minutes of warm up, limbs and wrists
  • 5 minutes of handstands, 10 cartwheels in each direction

POWER

  • 3 circuits of jumps and plyometric push ups
  • Pick the level that matches your ability

STRENGTH

  • 3 sets of 10 reps of powerful LEG exercises (working towards pistol squats)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PULL movements (working towards archer pull ups)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of PUSH movements (working towards handstand push ups)

COOL DOWN

  • Stretch after you’re done, spending 5-10 minutes stretching out your muscles.

Complete this workout every other day, combined with your martial art of choice, and you will level up your life in NO time (and make the Monk Guild in the Nerd Fitness Community proud!)

Are there any questions I can answer for you?

Do you plan on seeing the new movie on Friday?  My expectations are so low I can step over them, but I’ll most likely see it. You know, market research.

Who is the best Ninja Turtle? [The answer is Raphael, duh]

TURTLE POWER!

-Steve

PS: If you are looking for workouts like this, along with high def demonstrations of each exercise, check out our recently updated Nerd Fitness Academy, which now has the ability for you to actually level up and gain experience by completing quests!

PPS: KOWABUNGA!

###

photo source: Adam Mangan: Turtle Kick, Rubenstein: Turtles Bus, John: Raphael, frogDNA: Donatello, Nathan Rupert: Leonardo, frogDNA: Turtle Action, Jeremy G: turtles in a line

Get The Rebel Starter Kit

Enter your email and we’ll send it right over.

  • The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
  • The most effective diet and why it works.
  • Complete your first workout today, no gym required.
  • These are the tools you need to start your quest.

43 thoughts on “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Workout

  1. Whew! Exactly the type of workout I need (to develop maximum assassin-like capabilities and improve my kickboxing at the same time). But then again all your articles always seem to be exactly what I need:) Thanks! Could the next workout be the Ezio workout? Or did you do that already?

  2. Um, LEONARDO is the best!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for this article. I have kind of fallen off the wagon but am starting to get back on. And working out thinking about nothing but ninja turtles is just the giggle I need. Maybe I can youtube stream some of the original TMNT while working out!!!! Love TMNT. The new one will either suck or be amazing…… but I’m curious to see how close it is to the original 🙂 Love TMNT.

  3. THIS. Totally made my morning. Secret of the Ooze is obviously the best movie of all time. I’m going to do this workout while rocking the turtle rap on repeat. So pumped up right now.

  4. Nice! This workout must’ve been created just for ME (as I’m LittleTurtle on the boards). This is the first strength workout that actually speaks to me. I cannot wait to try it out! I so badly want to be a Ninja Turtle! 🙂

  5. Ah the balance one seems tough… I’ll give it a try. BTW I have lost 20 pounds with the beginner bodyweight workout and running. I feel great. And Donatello is a Badass!!!

  6. My greatest enemy when trying to level up is boredom, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks

  7. All right.. Trying this tomorrow… Not sure about Ninja balance section because I’m over the 50lbs mark to loose but I think I will work with the 60 second planks and go from there. The rest of it though….hells ya! Bring it on! Although I will probably be at level 1 for most of it… But maybe I’ll level up soon! And not sure about this remake either. Meagan Fox as April? Boooo! I remember playing Ninja Turtles in school, I’m not talking about the action figures either. We used to run round the school yard and fight off Shredder and save “April” all the time! 🙂

  8. Glad I’m not the only one with low expectations for the new movie! Everyone seems so excited and the closer it gets the more I know it will be disappointing 🙁

  9. Can you please tell me, how in the world a person can even begin to do this stuff or any exercise at all when….I have one knee totally reconstructed with screws, staples and even some cadaver ligaments, and am in constant pain in that knee as well as the other because of the constant pressure being put on it. Also I have 3 buldged disks in my neck causing numbing down the arms and hands and causing severe migraines on a regular basis. I have tried everything and the pain wins. SO SO depressing. I have gone Paleo now for 8 weeks and am starving most of the time and lost a whopping 7lbs. This is even more depressing. Doctors seem to have given up on me that’s why I started Paleo in the first place. Any suggestions?

  10. Cowabunga! Raph is my favorite, too! Growing up, my younger brother and I reinacted the original movie all the time. Also, Ninja Turtles could ride My Little Ponies into battle against Shredder and Krang. 😉

  11. How are you feeling about the upcoming movie? I’m a huge turtles fan, and I hope the movie captures their classic TMNT personalities!

  12. Oh wow.
    This is the best site ever.

    Pokemon workout next:

    1. Send your Pikachu against rock types like a cruel bastard.
    2. Get badges as favours without earning them.
    3. Repeat 100 times per season.

  13. That is awesome! I can’t wait to try it out! As far as Raphael being the best, well I just can’t agree with that. Sai’s? What a boring weapon choice. Aren’t they supposed to be a mainly defensive weapon? With Raph’s fiery personality, I’m just not sure it makes sense. For my money, it’s Leo all the way.

  14. Hey there GG. That sounds really tough! I’m sorry you’re going through so much. I’m not a licensed trainer or anything, but have you looked into yoga or tai chi?

  15. Thank you!! Yes, I have tried both and no luck. The yoga made the disk problem in my neck seriously bad. I am toooooo young to feel this old!!! But thank you for the suggestions.

  16. This is awesome! There should be more workout plans like this which don’t just focus on strength but also things like mobility, power and flexibility.

  17. I’m sorry you’re in that kind of a situation. I’m not a professional of any sort, but hope this advice can help: my friend also has problems with his knee and was about to undergo surgery when the hospitals went on a strike. He is still waiting for the surgery but decided to help himself.

    What he did was use an elastic band to do daily stretches and improve the mobility of his leg. In addition, he did leg-strengthening exercises to strengthen his quads and other muscles which are connected to the knee. When the pain would increase, he would ice his knee which helped temporarily.

    At first, he couldn’t squat or move his leg normally or even bend it slightly. But over a few months of dedicated work, he is basically completely pain-free. He can bend his leg, even cycle and run regularly without pain.

    I’m not sure if it’s applicable in your situation, but I would suggest trying his approach and see if it helps. Keep in mind that at first he could do only basic movements, like moving his leg left/right, up/down. But keep increasing your limits and practicing every day and it’ll get better.

    Also, I can understand that your situation is causing you to be depressed and feel bad. However, you must keep a positive mind! My friend was only able to stuck it out because he was optimistic and didn’t give up. For that, I think my blog can help you because it’s about how to change the way you think with real-life examples. I suggest reading this article to get you started – http://bit.ly/1mm0LvP.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  18. Cool work out. I think adding some jump rope work would really boost this work out. It would help build speed, timing, agility, and endurance. Every boxer and wrestler I know jumps rope to build conditioning and for the reasons above. Five minutes of alternating 30 seconds fast; 30 seconds slow wouldn’t add much time to the work out but really increase the intensity.

  19. James the Greatest here. I actually will be seeing an early showing on Thursday at 7pm, in full costume. then on Saturday, I’ll be throwing a TMNT party at my apartment. I plan to print out this workout and share it with all my friends!!

  20. Where would you recommend trying cartwheels if you don’t have access to a padded floor (small apartment with neighbors underneath) like the video?

  21. For me this is the best workout so far!

    I can’t wait to use this as part of my next 6 week challenge, thanks Steve

  22. So in doing this workout should I be sticking to 1 day on and 2 off or is there something I should be doing on the off days, i.e.. running light work out? or will I be too smoked? I haven’t done it yet ( I just read the article) but definitely am going to try this one.
    By the way Michelangelo is the best turtle!

  23. So getting into the groove, and I can knock out 3 sets of 10 body weight rows, but I can’t manage a single chinup. Can I do drops (jump up and lower myself) to work up to a chinup, or should I tweak the BWRs instead?

  24. Donnie is the most bosa nova turtle of them all! He is totally true to himself – a geeky nerdy brainiac who also is a effin ninja!!! He shows you don’t have to sacrifice one passion for the sake of another.

  25. So I am thoroughly confused. I can do 10 reps and 3 sets of Handstand Push-ups without my arms giving out, or me tiring out but have a hard time doing 15 reps and 3 sets of Jack-Knofe pushups. Are they a bit different for what they work out or pretty much the same (like one doing more shoulders than let’s say Triceps, and vice-versa for the other)?

  26. Pingback: roofer
  27. Pingback: DMPK Studies
  28. Pingback: Bolide
  29. I’m the huge fan of TMNT. My favorite is Donatello and my younger sister actuly preaty much like Michelangelo. I heve two more sisters one is creazy for rafel and another whant to be like Leo from Tmnt

  30. I’m the huge fan of TMNT. My favorite is Donatello and my younger sister actuly preaty much like Michelangelo. I have two more sisters one is creazy for rafel and another whant to be like Leo from Tmnt. I’m prety much like Donatello Sorry for my first post my sister make a big mess in my lab.
    Thanxs for trening

  31. I’m the huge fan of TMNT. My favorite is Leonardo and Donatelo I’m the oldest in my family has 3 younger brothers and also one younger sister . I ‘m trening ninjicu material art sinse I born but now my younger brothers what to be rely ninja turtles, also my sister what to be girll version of Mikey she sounding sometis like Mikey . Thank you for this article it’s ameazing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *