Queen of the pull-up (and muscle-up and push-up) with a core of steel, Fanny Ahlfors (aka social media’s Fanny Josephine) makes hanging off gym bars and climbing, arms-only, look like a doddle.
Check out this video of Fanny and you’ll see what I mean.
In this short, quick-fire interview the 24-year-old Swede reveals how she hones her pull-up and ninja skills.
Were you always sporty growing up?
I have always been training in something. Riding horses when I was younger. After that, kickboxing and boxing which I also competed in. I saw the Ninja Warrior show some years ago and after that I felt that I had to do something like that. I started to climb in September 2015 and in October 2015 I started training ninja things in a gym called Extremfabriken (a super-cool gym in Stockholm with loads of ninja-style, hanging obstacles).
At what point did you start working on your upper body strength?
I could do around 16 pull-ups when I was doing boxing. After that, I had some years when I could do 6 max, so I started to do more sets and reps. I started working on my pull-ups, push-ups and upper body strength in 2015.
How did you become so amazing at pull-ups? What’s the secret?
One year I decided to do pull-ups from July to December, two times every week. On day 1, I’d do 5 sets of pull-ups, each with five reps and extra weight. On day 2, I’d do five sets again, this time max reps. Then I’d add one more rep on the first set every week. I would rest between.
My top tips for beginners: Be patient, make a plan, follow the plan!
Do you ever train specifically to improve your grip strength?
I think all pull-ups and bar hangs are good for the grip strength. I don’t train it in any other way.
Your upper body strength is amazing! What kind of upper body training do you do?
Climbing and ninja jumping, playing, sometimes with extra weight pull-ups. Not so much “normal” gym training! I also climb around two times every week.
Do you do any lower body training?
Yes, I have a lot of exercises for my lower body. I don’t think it’s so fun, but I do it every week.
What’s your favourite exercise?
Pull-ups and different roll-outs for core (Fanny is known for her incredible core exercises, using a barbell and rolling it out in front of her – see video above).
Have you increased your running since taking up obstacle course racing?
I love running and have always done it, but it’s not so fun for videos on Instagram.
What does a typical week of training look like?
There is no typical week! But I try to mix climbing, running, lower body training, swim, yoga, boxing, mobility, ninja training. Too many things, too little time!
Have you got any specific training goals for 2017?
Yes, competing at the OCRWC (Obstacle Course Racing World Championship) and achieving a one-arm pull-up.
You have 139k followers on Instagram– did you ever envisage this happening?
No, it started like an experiment with 500 followers in December 2015. It’s a little crazy, but fun!
Are there any fellow athletes that you admire?
Heather Hardy (unbeaten American professional boxer and International Female Super Bantamweight title holder.)
What’s in your kit bag?
Chalk, rubberband, trigger balls, shoes, always lots of clothes, iPhone charger, camera, Gorillapod (portable tripod), Pugz wireless earphones.
Do you have sponsors?
Yes – 2xu, NOCCO (branch chain amino acid-enriched drinks) and Pure Pharma (vitamins and supplements).