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Upper body conditioning for Parkour

If you’re a returning reader you probably read my last blog post, about lower body conditioning exercises. That’s awesome! If you also did them, even better, but today I have a new workout routine for you. Although Parkour involves a lot of running, when it comes to passing obstacles, your upper body comes in extremely handy. Muscles are not so you look fit. They are imperative for efficiency and flow. You can’t vault if you don’t keep your arms where they need to stay and you can’t climb if your strength gives out halfway through the movement.

So every time you train, you should always keep a balance between lower body conditioning and upper body conditioning. You can’t have one stronger than the other.

Upper body conditioning

Upper body conditioning for Parkour is crucial if you want a steady evolution.

All type of conditioning should be done outside, not in a gym. Parkour is a body mechanic type of sport, so it’s useless to work on a machine that does not mimic real life. The walls, stones, trees, and other objects is what you have to use in Parkour (and Parkour conditioning) if you really want see the results. Like someone once told me, “It is better to train for reality by using reality”.

Now, that we have the basics pretty much figured out, let’s see a few exercises you can do, as Zeno says, come rain come shine:

Press-Ups (Reverse palms) – Push-ups with your hands tilted backwards are a very efficient method to condition your triceps and muscles that aid lifting your own body from a cat-leap position. You will see they are one of the hardest to perform.

Press-Ups (Legs apart) – This type of push-ups is for general upper-arm conditioning. The legs position tends to take some pressure of your back while doing the exercise. They should be done fast and not very deep.

Press-Ups (Legs together) – Perfect for full-range motion of the arms. This is done deeper and slower than in the previous exercise. This type of exercise is aimed for resistance strength, not so much for explosive strength.

Wide grip Press-Ups (Legs apart) – This is an ideal chest exercise. It trains your push strength and improves general upper body strength. Again the legs are set apart from each other to take some pressure of your back.

Narrow grip Press-Ups (Hands in front of head) – These are even harder than the press-ups with your palms reversed, but are ideal for your triceps and shoulders. I recommend doing these before the diamond presses.

Diamond presses (Hands under chest) –Perfect for back and arms. Must be done deep and slow for best performance. I like to do these among the last push-ups so I can feel some resistance from my body and push my limits.

Pull-Ups – Take a small break after the push-ups and relax your hands. Afterwards start doing pull-ups. These to can vary (Narrow grip, Wide grip, Inverted grip).

Dips –Without a brake, engage in doing some dips. These should be done immediatly after the pull-ups because they are complementary exercises.

Jumping Dips –These are harder than they look and require alot of exploseive strength. They also develop it really fast so you should do these everytime you have the chance.

Walking on parallel bars –Walking hanging from your hands is a great way to improve your forearm strength. Like the Dips are done immediately after the pull-ups, these should be done without pause right after the jumping dips.

Leg swings on parallel bars – Leg swings should be done with force in order to get the desired results. This is a great core exercise and also useful for shoulders.Try to achieve ample movements and control the peak elevation by tightening your muscles.

Other exercises include:

Rope climbs, Muscle Ups, Chin Ups, Weight lifting (In nature), Alternating press-ups (On stone), Inverted presses (Narrow grip, Wide grip, Inverted grip), Inverted presses (Legs raised off ground)

You must remember that conditioning is done before your technique training. I know this is pretty hard to comprehend, but training your flow and movements when you’re less likely to perform at the height of your expectations will teach your body to manage your energy more efficiently.

  1. Pingback: Lower body conditioning for Parkour | Parkour Training Blog |

  2. radiology technician

    January 3, 2011 at 1:00 am

    nice post. thanks.

  3. pell grants

    January 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.

  4. Deshawn Kudrle

    January 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Hello, I can’t realize how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Support me, please

    • Dan Dinu

      January 15, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Hello Deshawn,

      I’m glad you are interested in my blog. If you would like to add it in your RSS Reader just copy the link from “stay updated via rss” and copy it into your feeder.

  5. Fadi

    January 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Hey dan. This is the most amazing and affective work out i have tried yet. My parkour is improving so rapidly! I couldn’t do 1 pull up before and after afew weeks of push ups i can do 10.

    I was just wondering if you could put up some parkour roll tutorials because im having trouble when i land. Thanks again!

    • Aysha

      March 11, 2012 at 2:14 am

      Hey Fadi,
      I’ve been trying to do pullups myself and haven’t managed it for a really long time =(. I want to try doing these pushups instead to work up to it, could you tell me how many of each pushup and how many times a week you did them?
      I’d really appreciate it!
      Thanks ^_^

      • Dan Dinu

        March 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm

        Hi Aysha,

        If you want to work on your pull-ups, you can begin by doing negative pull-ups. It’s the same technique, just that you begin from the top and lower yourself very slow until your arms are stretched. Tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opr72q6NKTc

        Test yourself weekly, to see how you improve. After gaining enough strength, you can start working only with regular pull-ups.

        • Aysha

          March 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

          Ill try that over the next couple of weeks

  6. Fadi

    January 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    oh wait, i just found your roll tutorial, its all good.

  7. Pingback: Low impact training in Parkour | Parkour Training Blog |

    • felix

      June 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      low impact traning helps you wean u pratice your rolling and landing stances

      • Dan Dinu

        December 13, 2013 at 11:28 am

        I agree Felix, you should always use low impact conditioning, and training for that matter. That way you will be able to train longer and better.

  8. Pingback: Parkour strength conditioning at home | Parkour Training Blog |

  9. Shwetank Dhyani

    April 19, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I am already in decent shape, but feel my wrists to be something holding me back bcz they twist everytime I try going upside down on my hands..or do anything stressful.
    So, what I want to ask is, how long do I do your upper and lower body workouts b4 I feel fully prepared to give Parkour a good go..???
    My body responds to training quite quick…so any guess?? I have a 2 month vacation, so thats the time I can be dedicated to the art.

    • Dan Dinu

      May 8, 2011 at 8:02 am

      Hi Shwetank,

      You need to try to do conditioning everyday, even if its only for 20-30 mins. Usually, you can start your technique training right away if you do not want to wait. You can start training small movements like precisions and basic vaults. Your body will start to become aware and react to the conditioning and trainings.

  10. Callum

    May 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Do You Just Do The Workouts With The Descriptions ??

    • Dan Dinu

      May 8, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Hi Callum,

      If you feel the need to do extra exercises, you can, no questions asked. Because there is no fixed formula for the number of upper body exercises you need to do, you will have to follow your body.

  11. Travis

    July 27, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Thanks for the post ive been doing parkour for a week or two before this i couldn’t do more than 3 now im doing 10-13 after i did these exercises

    • Dan Dinu

      March 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Travis,

      I’m glad it helped you. Keep doing the good work!

  12. Pingback: How muscle memory helps your Parkour | Parkour Training Blog |

  13. randomness

    November 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm


  14. Apollo

    April 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Great but can you go into more detail on the leg swings, I don’t know if it’s correct but I’m getting the mental image of a dead hang or half pull up from the upper bar and just kicking/swinging your legs out randomly

    • Dan Dinu

      May 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Hi Apollo,

      The leg swings are done hanging on parallel bars, keeping your hands straight. You begin by throwing your legs forward and blocking the height by tightening your muscles. You do the same, throwing your legs backwards.

  15. David a

    June 5, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Hi, i need some help on setting up a workout plan or routine for upper body and lower body including exercises from both videos, so if anyone is willing to help me thanks sorry for the laziness lol

  16. shameer

    June 19, 2012 at 6:02 am

    i am 14 can i do lower and upper body workout i have problem that if have a thin body and do the workout will my body develop muscles or i have to make my self fat

    • David a

      June 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Well there won’t be a problem, its a known fact that people with a thinner body tend to gain muscle easier, people have the misleading opinion that fat people or people with more excessive fat have a better chance of gaining muscle, that is true but if they also want to lose weight then that makes it more diificult, losing fat and gaining muscle is a difficult multi task but is possible, while your doing your exercises and conditioning, your conditioning your body to gain the strength of the exercises your doing, i also recommend actually trying some of the parkour moves such as various vaults just to get you use too the actual thing, so dont worry about having a thin body you’ll still gain strength, trust me i know a lot of parkour practicioners that are skinny but some of the toughest motherf$&@ks ive ever seen, so just keep training.

      Tips: a major thing to practice to get your started as well is the fall and roll, practice dropping from certain heights and also rolling out foward as soon as you land, really important in this sport. I recommend american parkour, parkour tutorial volume 1 it’ll teach you any vaults and the other things i talked about before.

  17. Talon

    January 17, 2013 at 7:27 am

    How many rep and set?

    • Dan Dinu

      January 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Hi Talon,

      Usually you should begin with 5 reps each and go from there. Everyone has a different threshold, so you should test your body a bit to see how many reps work for you.

  18. kyle hudson

    December 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    what should i do for flips

  19. kyle hudson

    December 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    p.s I`m the some what oppisit of the kid shameer above , I`m 15 and I have the bulk of a middle weight ( weight class in fighting sports.) and I don`t want to get to big so should I continue my normal regemen (30 reps with 2 sets or drop the reps and do 1 or 2 more sets?

    • Dan Dinu

      December 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Kyle,

      Body-weight training (also called calisthenics) does not have any notable effect on your bulk. The types of exercises shown in the article are developed specifically to improve strength and explosive power. You can, and you should improve your routine in order to evolve and become stronger and have faster muscle contractions. This will help with your flips.

      Be advised, you should add more reps/exercises gradually. Do not over do it. Over-training can lead to injuries and long recovery times. Listen to your body. If it’s ready for an extra push-up, do it.

      Train safe!

  20. Maxime

    March 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Hello Dan,

    Your post might be from a few years ago, but I was wondering something. I want to train my upper body so I will be fit enough to parkour, but as a female, my arm muscles are a lot less strong than those of a man. Most of the excercises are yet impossible for me to do (actually all of them, the way they are preformed in the video). Do you know how I could do with these excercises in a way they are in the beginning less heavy?

    Thanks already 🙂

    • Dan Dinu

      April 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Hi Maxime,

      The post is as accurate now as it was when I wrote it. There are a lot of exercises that you can do, that are low impact.

      I really hope they help!

  21. Jared Abithe

    June 7, 2015 at 1:30 am

    Definitely the best upper body routine I’ve come across yet. Thanks for these awesome ideas 🙂


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