Moreso than hoods or dark alleyways or even arrows, there is one thing that truly separates "Arrow" from the rest of the superhero stories on TV and in movies: the infamous salmon ladder, Oliver Queen's favorite method of gettin' swole.
But while he's the guy who first started making Felicity swoon over his ability to jump up a ladder, he's not the only one! (Not that Felicity swoons over everybody -- oh gosh, I sound like her right now, don't I?) Sara Lance also uses it...
And Ray Palmer...
Even The Flash tried it out that one time, the show-off.
In case you can't tell from all the GIFs, a salmon ladder consists of a set of 12 foot beams about a doorway's width apart from each other, with rungs a foot apart that have just enough space for you to move a straight bar in and out through them. It made its television debut on an episode of the Japanese "Sasuke" competition (you probably know it better as "Ninja Warrior") in 2007 and has since been a regular staple of the show, as well as the U.S. version "America Ninja Warrior."
Of course, as Cisco Ramon figured out when he tried it out for himself, you can't just jump up on a salmon ladder without some training beforehand; you'd have to first practice with an assisted chin-up or pull-up on a machine like this. But once you do, there's a very specific trick to being able to go up the ladder
"With training, the key is, believe it or not, it does not have to do with strength," sports physician Dr. Scott Weiss told MTV News over the phone. "Really it’s about hinging the body, and using the body and wiggling it like a salmon, using the physics and momentum of your body to propel yourself vertically a couple of inches just enough to get the bar into the next rung."
So basically, it's a perfect training regimen for the Arrow, who favors technique and finesse over being able to pound somebody's head in like a Mirakuru-infected supersoldier. And in the process, you activate almost every single one of the muscles in your core and arms, which is extra-useful for helping archers stabilize their posture while drawing back their bows. "You’re using your core to start and then your upper body comes in to stabilize the vertical displacement that you did with that wiggle. So your core, your upper body, all your intercostals, your ribs, the muscles of your back, triceps, lats, shoulders. It’s a big exercise, initiated by the core and then taken over by the upper body."
Even better? Out of all the members of Team Arrow who've tried their hand at the ladder, Sara Lance is most likely the best at it, specifically because of her gender. Women are often told that they have less upper body strength then men, and so they're much quicker at picking up the wiggling technique rather than trying to lift their bodies straight up with just their arms.
"I saw a handful of women do it [where] it almost looked like tai chi, and they got off and were not even out of wind and that’s when I realized that it’s about technique," Weiss admitted. "It’s about physics, it’s not about muscling through it. I was muscling through it, and guys have a tendency to muscle through it."