As the fitness industry continues to evolve, so does the general trend in alternative fitness disciplines. One of the most exciting ways of keeping fit, and challenging yourself physically, is with Parkour.
You can find a million articles online on the origins of Parkour, check my articles for one such missive, but what is required of the participant that wants to learn the basic moves, and what training should they be doing?
Back to basics
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With the basic premise of Parkour being the ability to move between two points in the quickest most effective way, it’s safe to say that strength, agility and balance are all necessary. Being able to jump from a standing position is helpful and in Parkour for beginners, the training should reflect this.
1) Practice squat jumps on a daily basis
From a squat position, learn to propel yourself as high as possible in the air, and land again in a safe way.
Control is vital in Parkour
So when starting your squat jumps, hold your core tight, squat down and explode upwards, keeping your core tight. When you land, bend at the knees and absorb the shock. Try to land squarely, minimizing the shock through your body.
A good indication of how you land, is how you feel on touch down
You should have very little stress on your ankles, knee, back and hips. Imagine yourself trying to land as quietly as possible, this will keep you focused on your landing technique.
Start with small jumps, and increase your height as you get stronger. Work on conditioning your quads and hamstrings to get the best from the explosive propulsion lifts that you will need when taking on even the most basic Parkour moves.
2) Strengthen your core
Of course, in Parkour there is a lot of moving around, and often on precarious terrain. Your balance has to be honed so that when landing on ledges, beams or small area surfaces, you can control your velocity and forward motion.
A good core is essential
When it comes to core training, Pilates is the go to fitness session. Anything you can do to improve your core stability, will be a great advantage when taking up free running. The best free runners will feel comfortable on any platform at any height, and they feel that way as they have great strength through their core.
This is an attribute that you have to perfect to allow you to perform basic Parkour moves. If you have a strong core and good posture, you will feel confidant when moving and landing, and the more confidant you feel the better.
Any hesitation or change of mind can compromise the move you maybe performing, if you are confidant and strong though in your ability, there is a much smaller chance of injury.
3) Strengthen your upper body
So far we have explored leg strength and core, but we must also realise that upper body strength is also a requisite in free running training. Vaults over walls, although done at speed, means you have to have strong shoulders and back muscles, so training that you do should reflect that.
Basic upper body exercise is all that’s required, so get used to press ups, chin ups and basic dumb bell movements.
Free runners will often have strong shoulders, so weighted shrugs can be effective, as can weighted side and front raises.
4) Stretch your muscles
Finally, stretching can really help your movements when learning to free run, so check out Yoga to help you with lengthening those muscles. Keeping yourself supple will be a huge benefit.
As you learn to vault and jump, you will find your muscles can take a pounding, particularly during the movement and landing, so good flexibility will prevent damage.
So prepare your body for this challenging activity and you may discover a new world of strength, balance and flexibility that you have never encountered in the fitness world before.
Connect with WatchFit Expert Louie Fecou