Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Building a Salmon Ladder
Written By : Scott Bird

UPDATE 21/03/22 : Although the videos below were available when this post was written, they're sadly no longer embeddedable.

Apologies for that.

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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.

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.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
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