I still remember that day, approximately 10 years ago.
I was returning back home when three adults passed right in front of me running straight towards an 8 feet wall. It sure looked crazy.
I kept walking while looking at them curious of what they were planning to do.
Then, as they approached the wall, the first guy jumped, took two steps on the wall, he reached for the top and quickly climbed his way up.
The other two stepped on the wall and performed a back flip.
I was astonished!
I had no idea what just happened.
How was he able to climb that wall so easily!?
Even though I didn’t know what exactly it was back then, I was still quite impressed by what I saw.
Later on, as Parkour started to become more popular and I learned more about it, I started to see the value in it. As it turned out, Parkour isn’t only about climbing walls, but it’s a complete, whole body fitness discipline.
Most importantly (for the SOA community) Parkour can be considered a calisthenics discipline since it doesn’t require any equipments and you are training with your own bodyweight.
If you ever wanted to achieve Parkour skills all the while getting better and stronger with calisthenics, then this article is for you.
What Exactly Is Parkour?
Before we move on, what is parkour exactly?
Most of us when hearing the word “Parkour” we get the image of a guy jumping off a rooftop or doing some other crazy maneuvers.
However, this is not an accurate image of what Parkour is all about and it only scratches the surface.
First of all, there are 2 basic types of Parkour:
The traditional Parkour has a clear and definite purpose:
Move from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. In most cases that being a straight line.
This requires intense focus and a lot of awareness of the environment.
Parkour allows a lot of personal expression, but efficiency is most of the times more important and the main emphasis is placed on overcoming obstacles.
Freerunning can be considered an evolution of traditional Parkour.
Here, the target is no longer efficiency and you have more freedom to express yourself through movement.
So, for example, in an empty space where in traditional Parkour you would simply run, in Freerunning you may practice some aerial along with your running.
In Freerunning, you can learn all the movements from regular Parkour, but the discipline includes some movements coming from other disciplines as well, mostly acrobatic movements and aerials from martial arts.
I personally find traditional Parkour more appealing because of the intense focus required, which reminds me of my Kenpo practice.
Benefits Of Parkour Training
So, why should you consider training with Parkour exercises in the first place?
Like any other discipline, there are lots of benefits that come from training with Parkour, even if you aren’t interested in overcoming obstacles or achieving the tricks themselves.
Here I am going to outline some of the most basic ones.
Benefit #1: It’s Really Enjoyable
This is one of the biggest benefits any discipline can have.
The more enjoyable the training is the more likely you are to stick to it.
What makes Parkour more entertaining than other forms of training is that it has a big element of unpredictability.
Of course, everyone has a different taste and so it might not be so enjoyable for you. But you have nothing to lose if you try.
Benefit #2: Get in touch with the surroundings
In this day and age, everyone is consumed with their own thinking and don’t notice what’s happening around them.
Even those who are more focused and aware of their surrounding, most of the times their connection to the environment is superficial.
With Parkour however, you are actually going to feel like you are a part of the environment.
A tree is no longer going to be a just tree. It is going to be something that can help you do a trick, something you can climb, etc.
Parkour will expand your perspective in whole lot of ways.
Your environment will feel alive again. The world will be your play ground, like when you were a child.
Benefit #3: Train wherever you are
This is a more general benefit of calisthenics. However, with Parkour this goes on a whole new level.
With Parkour, you aren’t only able to train outdoors, but you are supposed to.
If you train only indoors, you’re not really doing Parkour.
You have to train outdoors and explore new environments.
Benefit #4: Become very Creative
Training with Parkour sometimes feels like solving puzzles.
You see an obstacle or an object and you start thinking of ways to overcome it or how to climb that thing in a different way, a faster and more efficient way, etc.
Parkour is one of the most creative training disciplines out there.
Benefit #5: Develop All The Different training qualities.
With Parkour training, you can train for whatever quality you want.
Parkour itself requires a lot of endurance, explosiveness, strength, precision and intense focus.
Benefit #6: Become A Diverse Athlete
By diverse I don’t just mean that you are going to develop lots of different training qualities (benefit #5), but that you are also going to be able to overcome different physical challenges.
That happens because Parkour is a chaotic type of training.
This can also lead to an increase in confidence since you are going to feel like you can face any challenge.
Here we have all the basic Parkour movements that can help you to get started in overcoming obstacles.
Parkour Exercise #1: Step Vault
Parkour Exercise #2: Speed Vault
Parkour Exercise #3: Dash Vault
Parkour Exercise #4: Lazy & Thief Vault
Parkour Exercise #5: Monkey & Kong Vault
Parkour Exercise #6: Precision Jumping
Parkour Exercise #7: The Basic Parkour Roll
Parkour Exercise #8: Tic Tac
Parkour Exercise 9#: Cat Balance
Parkour Exercise #10: Cat Leap
Advanced & Intermediate Movements
Here belong moves that are progressions from the previous ones and can help you become faster and more efficient and help you overcome even more obstacles.
Parkour Exercise #11: Gate Vault
Parkour Exercise #12: Double Kong Vault
Parkour Exercise #13: Advanced Parkour Rolls
Parkour Exercise #14: Wall run & climb
Parkour Exercise #15: Tic Tac to Precision
Parkour Exercise #16: Kong Vault To Precision
Parkour Exercise #17: Tic Tac to Cat
Parkour Exercise #18: Vault To Cat Grab
Strength & Conditioning
To get the most out of Parkour training, you should combine the various skills with calisthenics strength and conditioning training.
Your conditioning and strength training is largely going to depend on your current level of fitness.
If you are a beginner you can train with exercises like:
If you are intermediate or advanced you can train with exercises like these:
Parkour can be considered an advanced form of running. So, regardless of your training level, you should always have some weekly running sessions where you train with sprints, hill sprints or distance running to improve your overall ability.
More on how to implement this later on in the training programs section.
Where Should You Train?
Todd, I would like to train with Parkour, but where should I train?
The obvious answer to that question would be outside, but if you ever practiced with Parkour, then you know that some indoors training may be required as well.
Since most of the practice is based on calisthenics exercises you will be able to train wherever you want.
The best option, in my opinion, is to train both indoors and outdoors.
For indoors practice, you can either train at a Parkour facility or at the comfort of your own home. Of course, there will be more training options at the training facility, but you can still train for a variety of skills in your house. Some of these skills are:
- Rolling variations
- Precision and broad jumping
- Height jumps (with exercises like squat jumps, etc)
- Balance exercises
Regardless if you train at a facility or at your home, you would still need to train outdoors to get the full benefit of Parkour training.
But how do I find a place to train outside Todd?
This is a question that I used to ask myself a lot and I think it may be the most common question among people who want to train with Parkour.
What I have found out is that if you start doing Parkou, even indoors, you will start to recognize potential training places and opportunities way more often.
What I would recommend you to do is to start training indoors with exercises that don’t require much space.
Then once a week go and train outdoors, at a park, a forest or any other open space with the exercises you have practiced indoors.
A good start for you may be a park at your local neighborhood. If you are lucky, you may find some other Parkour athletes training there as well.
The key is to always be on the lookout for potential training places.
How To Warm Up For Parkour Training
Warming up for a Parkour workout is no different that any other form of training.
The main thing that can make it a little more complex is that you will have to warm up differently in case you want to train with Parkor skills during the main workout.
Some days you will have to train for strength or conditioning. During these days, you can follow a general and simple calisthenics warm up.
However, when you are going to train with Parkour specific movements you should follow a more elaborate warm up that will help you perform better and learn faster.
Warm Up Sample #1: Strength & Conditioning Workout
This warm up sample can be used when you are going to train with simple calisthenics movements that improve your strength or conditioning. This is only an example and you can easily modify it according to your own needs.
A: 5 min jump rope
D: 5-10 forward and backward rolls progression
- Depending on what movements you are going to train for, you can perform some light sets of 5-10 reps of an easier progression. So, if you are going to train with climbing during the main workout, you can do 2×5-10 reps of horizontal pull ups in your warm up.
- For exercise D, you should perform the same reps for both the forward and backward roll. In case you don’t have the necessary space to perform the movement, replace the exercise with other low impact exercises.
Warm up Sample #2: Skill Based Workout
This warm up (or your own variation of it) should be used when your main workout is going to consist of specific skill work. The purpose of the warm up is to prepare you mentally and physically to perform with better form by practicing with easy Parkour moves.
A: 3-5 minutes jump rope
B: 5-10 minutes tic tac practice
C: 5-10 minutes rolling practice
- You can remove or replace some of the exercises, in case you can’t perform them (e.g. no surface for the tic tac).
How To Cool Down From a Parkour Workout
I consider cool downs to be very important when practicing with skill-based exercises, because it’s going to allow you to practice more and thus learn faster.
Contrary to the warm ups, one cool down routine is enough.
The cool down is mostly going to be targeted on the joints, since they are going to be taking lot’s of impact from the parkour training.
Cool Down Sample
A: 10-20 Shoulder 8’s
B: 10-20 wrist rotations
C: 10-20 ankle rotations
D: squat clinic 1.0 or 2.0
- If you feel that a certain muscle group is very sore from the main workout, feel free to stretch or foam roll it.
Parkour Training Program Samples
In this section, you are going to find some Parkour training programs that you can follow or use as a reference to add Parkour exercises into your current training plan.
What I really like about Parkour, is that it’s a heavily skilled focused discipline. That means that it skill is more important than other physical abilities.
Being very skilled focused, Parkour training allows you to train every single day without worrying about overtraining. The key is to practice with low impact skills that don’t put too much stress on your muscles and joints.
So, the training programs below are going to be designed as 6-days-per-week programs.
Low Impact Skills
Before moving on, let’s see what low impact skills are.
With this term, I mean the skills that aren’t very taxing to your muscles, joints or neural system.
Such exercises are:
- Precision jumping
- Tic Tac
Depending on your current level some of these skills may seem tiring to you. If that happens, choose other easier and less taxing skills to master.
It’s important to focus on mastering one skill at a time from each category.
For example, choose a vault variation and stick with it until you master it. Then move to another variation. Same goes with precision jumping. Choose a spot and train until you master it the towards something more advanced. All the skills can be approach in a similar way.
Strength & Conditioning Workout Samples
Workout #1: Running
A: 4×400 meters run
- Rest 1-2 minutes between sets
- Try to complete the 400 meters as fast as possible.
Workout #2: Strength & Conditioning (Beginner)
A: 3x(sub-max) push ups
B: 3x(sub-max) bodyweight squats
C: 3x(sub-max) horizontal pull ups
- For the push ups use a variation that you can perform more than 8 consecutive reps.
- After you are able to complete 30 consecutive push ups, 50 squats and 10 horizontal pull ups with good form you can move on to the advanced strength workout.
- Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.
- Sub-max means that you are going to perform as many reps without going to failure (usually 1-2 reps prior to max).
Workout #3: Strength & Conditioning (Intermediate & Advanced)
A1: 5×5 one arm push ups progression (or other hard variation)
A2: 5×5 pistol squat progression
B1: 5×5 one arm pull ups variation or
3x(sub-max) pull ups (if you are interested more in pulling endurance)
B2: 5×5 or 3×8 broad jumping
- Perform A and B like circuits. Go from A1 to A2 and from A2 to A1 resting 60-90 seconds in between. Complete all the 5 rounds before going to B. Do the same for the exercises in B.
- In exercise B2, your number of sets and reps is going to depend on the choice of B1. Both exercises should have the same number of sets, so that they can be trained as a circuit.
- As you become more advanced, you can lower the number of sets to 3 instead of 5.
Workout #4: Core Training (Beginner)
- Go from A1 to A2 without rest in between.
- Rest 60-90 seconds between rounds.
Workout #5: Core Training (Intermediate)
A: 5×5 dragon flag progression
B: 3x30s static bridge hold
- Rest 3-5 minutes between set in exercise A and 60-90 seconds in B.
Parkour Workout Samples
Since parkour workouts are going to be based on skill training, the workouts are going to be structured in a slightly different way.
Instead of training with sets and reps, you are going to dedicate a set period of time in practicing for a specific skill over and over, that can be a roll, a vault, etc. Keep in mind that you can train with various drills that lead to the accomplishment of the skill during that time frame.
Workout #6: Parkour Training (beginner)
A: 10-20 minutes precision jumping
B: 10-20 minutes roll practice
C: 10-20 minutes vault practice
- Rest as needed during the practice so that you can perform with the best form you can, but don’t slack off.
- You can add more skill into the workout by setting a specific time frame for it.
- You can remove and exercise, in case you can’t practice and replace with something else.
Workout #7: Parkour Training (intermediate & advanced)
A: 10-20 minutes wall climbing
B: 10-20 roll practice
C: 10-20 movement combination practice (e.g. kong to precision)
- Similar to workout #6
Parkour Training Program Sample #1
This program is for those who have as a main goal becoming better with calisthenics and then as a secondary goal becoming good at Parkour.
Below I am going to describe only the first week of the program. The rest of the weeks remain the same.
Monday: Strength & Conditioning + Core Training
Tuesday: Parkour Training
Wednesday: Strength & Conditioning + Core Training
Thursday: Parkour Training
Friday: Strength & Conditioning + Core Training
- You can practice Parkour during all the training day by following a workout similar to the samples, with the only modification being that you decrease the time to 5-10 minutes. You can do that multiple times per day too.
For each category choose a workout of your choice.
- Try to train outdoors as much as possible.
- Every 4-5th week should be a deload week, in which you are decreasing the intensity of your strength and conditioning workouts.
Parkour Training Program Sample #2
This workout is for those who want to focus more on becoming better at Parkour.
The only difference between this and the sample #1, is that one strength and conditioning workout has been replaced by a Parkour workout.
Monday: Strength & Conditioning + Core Training
Tuesday: Parkour Training
Wednesday: Strength & Conditioning + Core Training
Thursday: Parkour Training
Friday: Parkour Training + Core Training
- Similar to sample #1.
I hope this article will help see how diverse, holistic and awesome Parkour can be.
In case you always liked Parkour but you felt hesitant about doing it, I would recommend you to take action immediately.
Start slow then keep building from there.
Learning the basic skills doesn’t take that much time and after you see how awesome Parkour really is, there is no going back.
What Parkour skill would you like to learn the most?
Personally, the wall climb is in my top priorities.
Let me know what’s yours in the comment section below.
– bodyweight Todd