P&P's Parkour Conditioning
How we train is very physically demanding and to cope with that we can make sure our bodies are in prime condition between training sessions.
"Conditioning" is the term used to describe the activity an athlete partakes in between their specific training. It commonly consists of fundamental training and exercises that develop the body as a whole, rather than focusing on a particular skill set.
The benefits of conditioning include increases in Power and Stability but most of all it maintains Longevity within Parkour, allowing practitioners to train safer for longer.
The four core training methods to consider when conditioning for Parkour are:
Here is a breakdown of how to keep your body ready to make the most of Parkour training; co-written by Power & Placement.
This is the most accessible and beneficial form of conditioning as it doesn't require any equipment and can encourage development within fundamental movements such as Squats, Push-Ups or Pull-Ups. Developing the ability to manipulate your bodyweight directly helps in Parkour when overcoming obstacles such as Climb-Ups on walls or taking a controlled Height-Drop.
If you think of your body like a house, Bodyweight Training gives you a stronger foundation to build your skill set on and in turn you will last many years in the discipline. Whereas if you spend little time conditioning the body, your foundation is weak and you are building all subsequent abilities upon fragile foundations, leaving your body to play catch up. This leads to unsustainability as your training can be sporadic or uneven before going training and the risk of "overtraining" is that much higher because your threshold of physical exertion is that much lower.
Power! It's the name of the game when it comes to Resistance Training, take into consideration that this method should be practiced with the others as a healthy mix to gain full benefit.
Resistance in training is achieved by putting the muscle under stress to make a specific movement much harder than normal. The stress refers to weights of varying shapes and sizes, whether it's Squats/BenchPress/Twists/Lunges/Deadlifts the body can develop immense power from repetitive training with a suitable load. This power is then transferred to Parkour by an increase in jump distance or pushing power to be able to travel further and reach new limits that were physically out of your reach before.
The temptation to get on a high end commercial gym machine and smash a heavy set with straps or lifting belts is high, however the guys over at Power and Placement beg you to lift weights simply as free weights. The reason for this is that muscle can take an enormous weight with the aid of specific machines or lifting belts that support your core, yet your joints/tendons/ligaments are still under massive strain and even worse they aren't getting the inner body support from your muscles. Instead the strap or machine is supporting you in a broader, more generalised fashion as opposed to catering to your individual needs and when you need your body's power in Parkour you'll find not one external support in sight, it all comes down to you and what strength you have built up through training and conditioning.
Having a strong posture is vital to strength and balance in Parkour. Revisiting the metaphor of building on foundations, your posture can say a lot about how you have trained or how you are "built". Good posture can be seen much the same as a well built building, it is stable and strong with no hunches or leaning (minus the Tower of Pisa, don’t be a Tower of Pisa)
Keeping your spine correctly positioned gives you greater control over your centre of mass, allowing you to "stick" landings better and execute cleaner rotations during flips.
The easiest way to improve posture is to be aware of bad posture and correct it when you notice yourself slacking; this primarily includes standing on both legs rather than leaning on one, keeping your back upright instead of hunched and keeping your chin up to maintain a supported upper body. Combining these techniques you will find your body a lot more responsive to applying power because your natural position is much more stable, relying on muscles to maintain good posture instead of slouching and putting unnecessary stress on the joints involved.
Last but certainly not least is conditioning back to peak physical health after training. The two most important factors involved with Recovery are Diet and Rest. Diet is pretty straight forward; the fuel you put into your body determines the amount of energy you have for training, so eat junk food and you'll have little to no energy. Equally your body is 60% water so if you don't stay hydrated you won't have the fuel needed to run your body; recovery rate and muscle growth rely heavily on the body being well hydrated before, during and after training. LSP offers water for our students in every lesson as we understand its importance in developing the body and mind when learning new movements that can be physically draining.
Rest is essential to recovery as without it your body would never find the time to heal and grow stronger; you would just be running it into the ground. The two forms of rest, Active and Passive, act as opposing factors and must be balanced in order to recover efficiently.
The best example of Passive Rest is sleep, the concept is to not use the area of your body that needs recovery, and in this case we are lucky enough to experience full body Passive Rest daily. However to fully recover we have to consider a healthy amount of passive and active, so if you're aching from your last training session don't crawl off to bed just yet. The human body needs anywhere between 6-10 hours sleep a night to rest adequately, anything below or above this can be harmful as the body isn't recovering optimally. Passive Rest can occur during the day also, using a limb less often to let it heal is a common example or training less regularly to get rid of muscle ache.
Now that you have caught all forty winks, it is time for Active Rest. This is a technique commonly missed by our younger students but known all too well by our older ones, having nursed an injury back to health at some point in their life. Active rest is not just for injuries however, it can also be used to combat soreness or overworked and tight muscles too. It is the ultimate Conditioning tool used for keeping the body mobile and ready to increase longevity in any given sport. Massaging an area and Deep Stretching are the two key factors within Active Rest, these allow damaged areas to loosen up and be put into positions that Passive Rest wouldn't have affected.
Without the novelty of having a masseuse continually at your disposal, we suggest getting a Foam Roller or making one from taping tennis balls together. This tool will allow you to massage your muscles yourself by rolling the tight muscle against the uneven surface of the roller and loosening them up. Foam rolling is a great way to refresh tired or aching muscles and its benefits are most effective after a good training session and a stretch.
Talking of which, the second contributing factor to a successful Active Rest is Deep Stretching. This keeps your body versatile and flexible while loosening up muscles so they can repair under less tension. Deep Stretching after a hard training session is essential to help your body reset and start processing which areas have been effected the most by how tight the muscles are in that area.
Stretching actively increases your flexibility which you will benefit from in Parkour by reducing the likelihood of pulling any muscles as you have stretched past the restrictive limits of that muscle group. If done daily Deep Stretching can also boost your flatland tricking capabilities as you will be able to utilise more of each limb fully during rotation. A prime example of positive effects stemming from Deep Stretching is your ankles; the more you stretch your ankles the more you will see a greater increase in mobility. This will enable you to command more control when landing or taking off from jumps due to the amount of area being used to compress into that landing.
We hope you enjoyed this article co-written by Power & Placement.
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They are a massively dedicated group of athletes who aim for safe practice over all else.
About the Author
With many years studying technique and safe practice of Parkour, Connor utilizes these to focus on creative movement using simple surroundings for his own training.
He hopes to be able to share this method of creative expression to his students to see them too enjoy movement even if only given one unassuming obstacle.