Physical Conditioning — December 10, 2012 2:58 pm

How to improve power and speed for Parkour

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Almost everybody has seen District 13, Prince of Persia or the already infamous Parkour chase scene from 007: Casino Royale. The main thing that strikes you most in every case is the power featured on those scenes. The persons performing those movements seem to defy the laws of physics and lift or drop they’re bodies like they’re feathers.

How did they develop that power? You might say they used tension cords or safety mechanisms, but there are many examples of similar movements that were done without any evidence of safety nets.

The truth lies in they’re training exercises. They train using power exercises. They never lift weights slow. It’s ironic that bench presses, dead-lift and squat competitions are called “power lifting”, because they actually display static strength.

Power involves moving thing rapidly. As I mentioned in the article Muscles in our body and strength, you should train your body to respond quickly. Learn how to improve your power and speed using the following exercises:

Interval training

Everybody keeps naming these exercises calorie burners or get-fit-quick schemes. but that’s just a marketing stunt. Interval training will help you improve your short-burst power, which you will use every time you will sprint towards and obstacle. Short bursts of top speed, in 30 seconds to 3 minutes intervals, hits exactly the muscles you need for a Parkour or Free running obstacle course.

A bonus of interval training is that it helps your heart recover faster after intense effort, meaning you can get a faster grip on your breathing and won’t need to catch you breath after every run you take.

Climbing

It can be any type of climbing: rock climbing, hill climbing, bouldering or climbing stairs or poles. This type of exercise will develop the kinesthetic awareness of your body for performing better at Parkour and Free running. It will also improve your accuracy and fluidity while moving through an obstacle filled environment.

I suggest you train using this method at least once a week. As you progress and you confidence builds up, try to speed up your routine until you learn how to climb faster and faster.

Muscle-Ups

This is a great way to improve your overall upper body strength. Forget push-ups or dips. Muscle-Ups will dominate your upper body if it’s done right. These exercises are similar to pull-ups, but in which you keep going up, after reaching the bar with your chin.

If you can already do pull-ups but you cannot go further than you chin, try doing dips to get you arms accustomed to the new variation.

Pull-Ups

If you can’t do muscle-ups, you can begin by doing some normal pull-ups. Using all the grips variations you can: wide, narrow, normal, one-handed you will soon be able to evolve to muscle-ups. These are not slow-speed pull-ups, but rather fast to improve your explosive power and lift your body instantly.

These exercises are a great way to teach you how to use your arms for climbing a wall or pulling yourself up on an obstacle. I recommend this as a daily exercise.

Olympic Lifting

I read a great piece once that showed Olympic lifting is a great foundation for sports that require explosive strength. And it makes sense, because you develop your fast twitch muscles and improve your core stability at the same time. You have probably seen the lifters jump 2 feet off the ground after dropping the weight. That is they’re muscles discharging they’re power into the floor.

If you have the possibility, i highly recommend you try it out for an added explosive training to your routine.

Plyometrics

This is a definite power-focused training that includes box drills, jumps, bounds and throws. All of these exercises will build up the body for the reaction times needed in a Parkour training. You can find a lot of these exercises in my article called Low impact training for Parkour.

Besides giving you a great power workout these exercises usually strengthen your body on the long term and are great for recovery after injuries, because they do not put a lot of strain on the body.

Kettlebells

And finally: Kettelbells. This is another sport that develops ballistic power. Because kettlebells are swung quickly, rather than lifted slowly, they give you a great upper body exercise and develop your power moves.

The kettlebells can also be easily replaced with stones or other heavy objects you can find in your surrounding training ground. These exercises can be done before or after the actual training.

As in the case of the Plyometrics exercises, these can be used also for recovery training.

What not to do

Don’t start pumping iron

The worst thing you can do to your muscles is to teach them to react slow. And that is exactly what body-building exercises and lifting machines do. Because muscle mass is acquired lifting things slowly, you will lose a lot of explosive power while doing so. My suggestion would be to try and have a 60%-40% ratio between your power drills and lifting weight, if you do not want to stop lifting.

Ease Off Aerobic Training

Long-distance aerobic training changes the body’s fast-twitch (strength- and power-focused) muscle fibers so they’re not quite as powerful. It’s not uncommon for marathoners to have a lousy vertical jump, for example. If you need power, then lots of long-distance running or other steady-state aerobic activity isn’t a very good idea. Replace these exercises with interval training.

2 Comments

  • Alright so I’m not new to park our but this power training is very alien to me. My brother and I are cross country runners. I don’t want to give up my cc season but I want to get way better at park our. What are some suggestions to balance out my training and how many times a day should I do power training? My brother and I are very eager to start and would love a point in the right direction.

  • i’m new to parkour i’m an indian i want to learn this perfectly.i like parkour.

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