Building a Salmon Ladder

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A Salmon Ladder is one of those things I'd almost forgotten about until I saw the ads for the television series Arrow, where he's putting one to work. I'd love to build one for the home gym here (or more likely, the backyard) - but how? There are a couple of basic approaches.

I'll detail those in a minute, but first, a spot of history :

What is a Salmon Ladder? How Did It Come About?

Think of a Salmon Ladder as an extra challenging pull-up variation, with a little kipping and plyometrics thrown in. The video below will show you exactly what it is.

As for the origin : as far as I can tell, the first time a Salmon Ladder was shown to the world was in competition 18 of Sasuke (shown in many countries as 'Ninja Warrior'); held in Spring 2007. The course was greatly modified following competition 17 (which was considered 'too easy' by some), and a number of new obstacles - notably the Salmon Ladder - were introduced.

To give you a taste, here's the Salmon Ladder being tackled admirably in a later Sasuke competition (Sasuke 27) :

As you can see, it's a fairly simple idea; though certainly a challenging obstacle. In fact, the first time it appeared in a Sasuke competition, only 50% of the entrants succeeded in negotiating it.

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If you care about getting strong, staying strong, and remaining injury free, Rings of Power is essential reading. I incorporated rings into my own training program a couple of years ago and am glad I did. At 45 years old, I am able to continue my strength pursuits unhindered by the joint and tendon injuries that plague many in the over-40 athletic community. - Dr Chris Hardy
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NB : To see the other training-related books we recommend, swing by the 'Recommended Reading' page. And for a complete list, head on over to Goodreads.

Building Your Own : A DIY Salmon Ladder

As I mentioned above, there are two basic approaches to construction your own Salmon Ladder. Let's take a look at each.

Solid Pins

As with the original, this version has solid pins. If you fall off, you fall all the way to the mat/water/ground below. Hopefully not too far.

The construction itself is quite straightforward. If you've ever built an outdoor chin-up bar, it's a similar idea. A bit of video will take you through it :

Moving Pins

An alternative is to use pins which lift up when you ascend, but lock in place once you've past them. The video below will show you what I mean :

Very interesting idea.

Final Thoughts

I'd love to build my own Salmon Ladder - probably outdoors, and probably using ideas from the above videos. How about you - is it something you've ever used, built yourself or seen in action somewhere?

If it is, drop us a link in the comments below : I'd love to check them out. DIY Salmon Ladders.

Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 32) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing computer guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

Stalkers may wish to track his every move via Twitter, Google+ or Facebook; everyone else is cordially invited to hop over to his online home. Enjoy.

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