Parkour Exercises

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WHAT IS PARKOUR

Free Running is basically a sport consisting of efficient acrobatic movements in a normal urban environment. One basic attribute is getting to one's destination in a unique and direct way. For example, instead of walking around a city block, Free Runners would go straight through the middle using common obstacles to their advantage. The way one overcomes these obstacles is a huge part of Free Running. Anyone can walk down stairs or climb over a wall, but the ability to do these things in the most efficient way possible is the key idea in this sport. As tricks and techniques are learned, new paths become available and the precision of one's movements increases.

Parkour is another term for the sport, which involves minor differences. The main difference is that flips and certain specific tricks are not practiced in Parkour, but are included in the sport of Free Running. Because flips are believed to be less efficient, they do not play a role in Parkour, in which the goal is oriented around precision and efficiency. I both agree and disagree because I find that doing flips in the right situations can, in fact, be the quickest path to reach my destination.. Another difference is that Parkour is typically non-competitive. Those who practice Parkour believe that competition will contradict the ideals they hold, making the sport a big 'race to the finish' instead of something one enjoys doing with friends who share a passion for the sport.

Parkour is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise right now, and it was originally introduced by the French. With the aim to get from one place to another with precise movements that have the utmost efficiency with regards to both time and energy expended, it requires large physical demands by the body to perform these exercises correctly. Parkour has gradually been introduced into pop culture through appearances in movies, music videos, TV shows, video games, and finally in literature. A few examples where it can be seen are in the James Bond movie, Casino Royal, in one of Tony Hawk's skateboard video games and in Splinter Cell.

As well, parkour websites are popping up all over the internet where people are exchanging messages and connecting with others interested in this form of exercise. One forum in particular, based out of New York and London, has more than 11,500 members conversing on the subject. Parkour is rapidly catching on all over the world and large groups are now meeting up to practice together in various locations.

The health benefits of parkour are numerous, with one of the most important factors being that it encompasses both your mental abilities as well as your physical skills. In order to be proficient at parkour you must be constantly "thinking on your feet," always anticipating what will come next so that you know the best way to move your body to accomplish your goal. Those who are successful at practicing parkour, have really learned how to master their own bodies and are always fully in control. Individuals who overestimate their abilities of strength, flexibility and balance often wind up injured. In this way, parkour is much more than just exercise; it's about knowing yourself and your own personal limits. By practicing parkour, you not only gain a great deal of physical benefits, but you also learn how to trust your body and your judgments. This will translate over into the rest of your life with a definite increase in self-esteem.

Below you will find the exercises that you should include in your fitness routine so you can strengthen the muscle groups that will be used when executing parkour.

1- Jump squats

Benefits: As many of the movements in parkour include rebounding off walls, the ground or other objects, you are going to want to have explosive quad strength. Jump squats are just the thing to get those results.

How to do them: Begin by crouching down in a low, squat position so your knees are fully bent at 90-degree angles and your arms are crossed in front of you -- keep your back as straight as possible. Next, use your quad muscles to jump as high as you can off the floor; as you jump, extend your legs and raise your arms as well. Immediately move back into the squat position once you land and repeat. Do a series of 10 jumps before resting after the completion of a set. Perform 2 to 3 more sets.

2- Pull-ups

Benefits: Among parkour participants, handstands are quite common, which require a great deal of upper-body strength. This is not only to hold the handstand position, but also to rebound out of it as many of participants choose to do. Pull-ups will help to develop that strength as well as work on your proprioception abilities (awareness of body position in space).

From pull-ups to the plank, strengthen your coreParkour is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise right now, and it was originally introduced by the French. With the aim to get from one place to another with precise movements that have the utmost efficiency with regards to both time and energy expended, it requires large physical demands by the body to perform these exercises correctly. Parkour has gradually been introduced into pop culture through appearances in movies, music videos, TV shows, video games, and finally in literature. A few examples where it can be seen are in the James Bond movie, Casino Royal, in one of Tony Hawk's skateboard video games and in Splinter Cell.

As well, parkour websites are popping up all over the internet where people are exchanging messages and connecting with others interested in this form of exercise. One forum in particular, based out of New York and London, has more than 11,500 members conversing on the subject. Parkour is rapidly catching on all over the world and large groups are now meeting up to practice together in various locations.

The health benefits of parkour are numerous, with one of the most important factors being that it encompasses both your mental abilities as well as your physical skills. In order to be proficient at parkour you must be constantly "thinking on your feet," always anticipating what will come next so that you know the best way to move your body to accomplish your goal. Those who are successful at practicing parkour, have really learned how to master their own bodies and are always fully in control. Individuals who overestimate their abilities of strength, flexibility and balance often wind up injured. In this way, parkour is much more than just exercise; it's about knowing yourself and your own personal limits. By practicing parkour, you not only gain a great deal of physical benefits, but you also learn how to trust your body and your judgments. This will translate over into the rest of your life with a definite increase in self-esteem.

Below you will find the exercises that you should include in your fitness routine so you can strengthen the muscle groups that will be used when executing parkour.

1- Jump squats

Benefits: As many of the movements in parkour include rebounding off walls, the ground or other objects, you are going to want to have explosive quad strength. Jump squats are just the thing to get those results.

How to do them: Begin by crouching down in a low, squat position so your knees are fully bent at 90-degree angles and your arms are crossed in front of you -- keep your back as straight as possible. Next, use your quad muscles to jump as high as you can off the floor; as you jump, extend your legs and raise your arms as well. Immediately move back into the squat position once you land and repeat. Do a series of 10 jumps before resting after the completion of a set. Perform 2 to 3 more sets.

2- Pull-ups

Benefits: Among parkour participants, handstands are quite common, which require a great deal of upper-body strength. This is not only to hold the handstand position, but also to rebound out of it as many of participants choose to do. Pull-ups will help to develop that strength as well as work on your proprioception abilities (awareness of body position in space).

From pull-ups to the plank, strengthen your core

How to do them: Grasp a pull-up bar using an overhand or underhand grip. Note that an underhand grip will work your latissimi dorsi more while an overhand grip will target your biceps as well. Slowly bring your body up to the top of the bar, pausing at the top momentarily if you can. Next, begin to lower yourself down in a controlled manner, but don't go so far as to hyperextend your elbows. Rise up once again to complete a second rep. Aim for 10 to 15 reps and once that becomes too easy, add some weight to your legs -- you can use ankle weights or have someone hold onto you for resistance.

3- Plyometric push-ups

Benefits: Plyometric push-ups are great because they will help to increase the explosiveness of your upper body in the same way jump squats did with your legs. You are going to need to call upon your fast twitch muscle fibers considerably while performing parkour as you need to react quickly in your movements because you are constantly changing directions.

How to do them: Move into a normal push-up position. Perform a standard push-up as you lower yourself to the floor then use your maximal strength to propel your body off the ground and into the air. If you can, try to clap your hands together mid-air and then move them back into the standard position before your land. Perform a series of 10.

4- The plank

Benefits: Having the strength to maintain a stable core will help you a great deal while practicing parkour. A strong core will ensure that first, you don't suffer from back injuries due to all the twisting motion and high impact moves, and second, that you can move as efficiently from one movement to the next. Since the plank exercise demands you to hold the muscle contraction for a period of time, you will derive a great deal of endurance strength from this exercise.

How to do it: Begin by laying face down on the floor. Next, lay your forearms on the floor just underneath your body with your hands clasped together, your arms will form a 90-degree angle when you body is raised. Lift your body up so that you are balancing on your toes. Your body should form what resembles a flat table top or plank. Ensure that your back does not sway downward or move up so you look like an inverted V. This is key for this movement. Hold yourself up for about two minutes and then come down and rest before repeating.

5- One-legged reach jumps

Benefits: Rebounding is an essential skill needed for parkour, so developing it should be a priority. One-legged reach jumps do precisely this while also helping to improve your balance and agility.

How to do them: Stand about three feet away from a wall. In a swift movement, take one or two steps toward the wall and then rebound off one leg, reaching as far up the wall as possible. Each time you include this exercise in your workout, try and get further and further up the wall. After performing this exercise 5 to 10 times on one leg, switch legs and repeat. Be prepared to work at this one. It's rather intimidating to take on a wall -- make sure you have shoes with grip.

Final tips for your parkour preparation 6- Tuck jumps
Benefits: Rolls are a key movement in parkour and having strong hip flexors and abdominal muscles will aid in performing these smoothly. To accomplish this, practice doing tuck jumps as often as you can.

How to do them: Stand on a padded surface and jump; tuck your knees as close to your chest as you can. Straighten out before you land and repeat. Note that this is a very intense exercise, so start by only doing a few repetitions at a time and building up from there. Always perform them while wearing proper footwear; this will prevent lower back pain due to impact.

7- V-sit snaps

Benefits: You will want to have quick-responding abdominal muscles so you don't waste precious time maneuvering your body around. V-sit snaps -- because gravity will be acting against you -- challenge your ab muscles more than a standard crunch and they also call the hip flexors into play. Some of the moves in parkour will have you quickly snapping up from the ground, so having the ability to do this movement will be of great use to you.

How to do them: On the floor, lay flat on your back. Immediately snap upward, keeping your knees and upper body as straight as possible. The end position of this exercise should have your body in the shape of a V. Hold this position for a second and then lower your body back down in a controlled manner. Try not to let your feet completely touch the ground again but rather hover mid-air before you complete your second rep. Don't leave a lot of time between reps and aim to touch your toes with your fingers.

ain't no building high enough

So, before you give parkour a try, integrate these exercises into your workout routine first. As you grow stronger you will gain the confidence you need to be able to keep up with the physical demands of parkour, without being injured. Remember to take things slowly and learn from the experience you gain. As much as parkour is a vigorous form of exercise, it is also an exercise in mental dexterity.

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Thanx for the parkour

danmanxr's picture

Thanx for the parkour explanation. I weigh almost 200 lbs is that too big for parkour? I don't do flips so that part sounded good.

Yep, you can still do it,

justin's picture

Yep, you can still do it, how tall are you?

I'm 6'3" tall. I'm

danmanxr's picture

I'm 6'3" tall. I'm explosive and run fast. I was a utility player in football and we did lots of wind sprints and speed drills. I'm fast and quick. I enjoyed quickness when I played tackle. Gotta sack the quarterback.

I'm also good a pullups and on a good day can do 20-28 in good form.

Sounds like you'll have to

justin's picture

Sounds like you'll have to problems getting on roof tops and other obstacles. I liked doing wall vaults the best.

Check out this video, one of my favorites.


LOL Great video. That

danmanxr's picture

LOL Great video. That scare's me all the jumps from building to building. I can see Andy doing that as he's a lifelong gymnast. He enjoys doing damn scary things in gymnastics. I have to admit that I loved watching Andy in gymnastics practicing release moves and him missing and doing belly flops onto the mattress. But doing that on concrete between buildings--that's gotta hurt. Yeah. It's gotta hurt. LOL

lol yeah, the worst thing

justin's picture

lol yeah, the worst thing that happened to me when I use to parkour was...

When I was once trying to jump from one roof ledge to another... I made it Laughing out loud but when I landed on the other side there was a piece of metal sticking up that took a chunk out of my leg.

I actually don't think I've parkoured since.

I do like to do those pole stalls though, if you get the hang of them they are really fun and can impress people very easily.

They show them at the end part of the video.

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star09's picture

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If you want an alternative

lblotusbong288's picture

If you want an alternative to doing pull ups while getting used to much movement found in parkour, do what's called cat traverses, aka hang shimmy. You hang from the side of a wall, feet pushing up against it, and move along it. If you want to up the level a little, pull up from that cat position.

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