Parkour is one of the most rapidly 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 up 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.
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).
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
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
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
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 enoughSo 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.