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Lower body conditioning for Parkour

Most people who start training in Parkour just want to start doing those big jumps they see on TV or Youtube. It’s exciting! But first you need to train your body to be able to endure that kind of abuse. Believe it or not, us traceurs do a lot of conditioning and strength training to be able to pull off those athletic moves.

The lower part of your body is responsible for everything related to jumping. From precisions to the form required to do a frontflip. Thus, it’s very important to start conditioning your legs right away. If you are just beginning your Parkour training, my advice would be to start conditioning your lower body first, before you even attempt to perform Parkour.

There are a lot of exercises to do for lower body strength. The most common, range from jogging to jumping with weights in your backpack. But let’s see a short list you can actually do anywhere:

  • Calve raises – Standing on a step, block, chair or other firm stable object. Stand so that the ball of your feet is supported and your heels are suspended. Lower down so that your calves are in a stretch position, then extend your feet to stand on toe. This can be done with your feet turned in, out or neutral.
  • Hopping stairs in one leg – Fairly self explanatory. Jump up stairs in one leg. This is one of the best ways to develop strength and power in your legs. Don’t forget to switch legs!
  • Running stairs – Continue the exercise, running up stairs (or steep hills). This is one of the best ways to supplement the one legged stair jump.
  • Squats – Keeping your back as vertical as possible, bend down. During the squat phase your heels should remain on the floor. You can vary the exercise by touching the floor with your fingers and then springing in a stretched position.
  • One legged squats – Stand on the edge of a mid-thigh height block. Again, keeping your back straight, bend down on one leg. Your opposite leg should be brought as forward as possible. Alternate, do one for each leg, until you reach the end of the ledge.
  • Plyometric jumps – Stand straight, legs together. Jump upwards, rebound back on the ground. Bring your hands forward for stability. Done in quick succession this helps develop explosive power for jumping and vaulting.
  • Block Jumps – Stand in front of a waist high block and jump on it and remain on the top of the block. This will help develop strength.
  • Block Jumps (One leg) – Same as above. Stand or run against a waist high block and jump on it, but instead, use only one leg for your landing. Remember to remain on the top of the block.
  • One leg precisions – Stand on a pole, or ledge, and jump in precision using one leg. This will develop your jumping distance. Very important for strides and two legged precisions.
  • Precisions – Continue the one legged precisions with normal precisions. Remember to increase the distance constantly to force your brain in developing the technique necessary to control the movement.
  • Pistols – They are the same as the one legged squats. The difference is that they are done faster and the repetition is done on the same leg (No leg switching this time).
  • Balance on rails – This is a great workout, not only for muscles in your legs, but your abs and your overall balance. It’s very important to have balance in Parkour, so this exercise should be done regardless of  the part you’re conditioning.

Other exercises you can do, not included in the video done by TraceurZeno, are:

  • Mountain Climbers – Start in a push up position. Bring one leg forward to a tuck position, then in quick succession switch which leg is tucked. (This will work your shoulders a bit as well.)
  • Pit Jumps – Just jump up and down in a pit, on a worn resi-pit, or other very soft non-rebounding surface.
  • Sprints – Run as fast as you can. Should be done in intervals. eg sprint a certain distance, jog back to the start point, sprint again. Repeat.
  • Squat Jumps Across the Floor – Start on one side of the floor/room. Bend down and leap as far forward as you can. Be sure to fully extend your body into a slight arch as you leave the ground. Challenge yourself to cross the floor/room in as few jumps as possible.
  • Wall Sits – Sit with your back against a wall. Legs will be bent at about 90 degrees. This isometric exercise helps build primarily quads and glutes.

This is a short routine I also do, three times a week. And, if you do it intensely enough it’s get you in shape faster than anything I know. Go out and try it. I’ll be back later with a routine for the upper body.

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  4. gessika

    November 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Hi, I am a couch potato and I want to turn that around, every time I see parkour I feel a rush in my stomach and then get goosebumps afterwards and I saw your blog and went straight to the physical conditioning articles. So I was just wondering since I’m a beginner, beginner which part of the body would I have to focus on??? I dont mind if you recommend 3 or more exercises with balance 🙂

    Please Help

    • Dan Dinu

      November 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Hi Gessika,

      If you are just starting you should focus heavily on building some resistance (running, push-ups, climp-ups) and improving your lower body. As most of the shock will go into your legs, it is important that you condition them well. Chek out the conditioning at home article and Lower body conditioning.

      For technique exercises, I suggest with starting small. Practice a lot of rail balance and the basic vaults & tricks: monkey-vault, kong-vault, speed-vault and you can even do a kong to front-flip (which is basically a backhand spring over a hip-high wall.)

  5. Brahm Cross

    July 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Very useful information, I have been training for a year and a half so im not that advanced, im starting to do bigger jumps and actually standing out in the community more. One thing I would say is not to rush the big stuff, as of right now I have been facing problems with joints and a decrease in form. Hopefully this information can help me improve to a higher degree so I no longer have aching joints and pulled muscles. Good luck all you beginners and have fun 🙂

  6. kyle hudson

    December 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    how many reps and sets? and how long dose it take to devlop power in your legs? (can do 40 squats, 4 pistol squats, and can jump up at most 4 steps on stairs

    • Dan Dinu

      December 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Kyle,

      Reps and sets should be set by you, according to your body. When developing a training routine you should choose a number of sets and reps that will help you go through all of the exercises and still have an ounce of energy left to walk home.

      Depending on the number of exercises, try to spread the reps evenly. Also, try to do 4, 5, 6 sets and see how you feel at the end. If you’re breathing heavily lower the number. If you’re not getting enough of a challenge, increase the number. If you’re feeling your muscles burn, maintain that number of sets.

  7. kyle hudson

    December 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    thanks !!!


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