So You Want To Learn Parkour?
I know the story… Its late at night, you’re 2 hours+ deep into procrastinating your way away from any lingering responsibilities. You’ve been doing laps of the YouTube related videos sidebar pretty consistently for the past 45 minutes and you’ve managed to stumble into the glorious content that is the parkour fail video.
That then more than likely lead you to the exceedingly glorious counterpart of regular parkour “success” videos and now you’re looking to go out there and give this parkour malarkey a go.
Well the best way to learn parkour is to get out there and try it. However, what you’ve no doubt seen in the parkour videos on Facebook or Youtube is only a fraction of actual parkour training. When you watch an athlete front flip between two rooftops 10 stories up they are at the very last progression of that skill. When you see someone bail it’s usually because they lacked either the physical or mental preparation needed.
Although the final progression may be dangerous, before they even attempt it they make sure that they have complete control of their body and they do this through correct training technique. Hopefully through this article we can put you on the right track to doing just that.
One of the very first skills any traceur will learn is the standing precision.
A lot of obvious components in the sport of parkour are gonna stem from the running, jumping and landing mechanic. It’s important to remember that learning this skill is more of a lesson in safety than it is being able to perform the biggest jumps. This lesson intends to teach you how to perform the essence of parkour properly with the least chance of injury. This jumping and landing technique will come into almost every next step in your road to learning parkour and for that reason it is one of the most important thing a beginner can learn. All you’re going to need is:
- Two level spots on the floor
- Two walls, as high as you’re comfortable with
- If you’re feeling brave, two rails.
Lets start with the warmup.
A warmup should last 10-15 minutes depending on how long you intend to train for. We need something to get the heart beating,. After that we tend to do some light stretching and mobility work, then we can move on to more skill specific training.
You can do this in whichever form you prefer! I tend to jog or find two spots and jog from one to another like a shuttle run. Then I try switching it up with side steps both ways, jumping and hopping. Don’t worry about going too hard or doing anything impressive at this point we just need to get the blood pumping. Warmups increase muscle temperature and viscosity meaning they’re more loose and harder to pull or tear, so its safer to save the actual freerunning for after anyways.
So we’ve finished our run. Should only have taken five or so minutes to get ourselves warm and ready to move onto some stretches. You want to warm up and stretch the body as holistically as possible but for simplicity’s sake I’ll stick to examples of muscles we’re going to use for the skill.
The muscles we’re stretching in the photos are the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, groin and glutes. Each of these muscles are part of a larger group called the posterior chain. This chain of muscles are the ones used in running and jumping as well as pretty much every basic human movement.
We’re going to practice a squat and lateral lunge. Loading your joints without weight at this level will help you deal with heavier impacts later on.
Try sitting in a squat position. Heels on the floor, back upright, head facing forward and try to have your weight going through the outer arches of your feet; those being the left side of your left foot and the right side of your right foot. Now extend one leg out to the side into a side lunge and slowly transfer your weight from your bent leg over to your straight leg whilst keeping your weight low in a squat. Just practicing this movement should give you an idea of the mobility in the joints we’re using in the skill. A full range of mobility is important, without the relative range of movement it’s unlikely you will be able to perform the skill correctly.
The Standing Precision
For this we’re going to take the two spots on the floor we mentioned earlier. The two lines either side of parking spaces in empty car parks are ideal for this kind of urban training.
Ever Wondered How Parkour Guys Have Such Impressive Jumps?
Well a lot of it is in the technique. Jumping, like running or pretty much physical skill you’re just expected to be able to do despite never having been taught is as a result something we all just assume we’re doing correctly.
Now when dealing with normal ground level impacts I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with how you jump but when dealing with large distances, drops and impacts the entire mechanic has to be spot on in order to avoid dreadful, dreadful injuries.
I’m not gonna be condescending and try to teach you how to jump, but I’ll give you a few tips and tricks to apply to your jump and using these you can evolve the skill into that of a parkour athlete.
Once you’ve practiced this between two spots on the floor and you feel comfortable with your standing precision try graduallly taking it up a little higher on something similar to the photos or gradually increasing the distance. Or make the landing area gradually smaller until you’re landing on a surface no larger than the ball of your foot. Allow your practice to vary and change, go out and find new jumps, measure and record your distance, then try to beat it the next time you train. Eventually taking the skill from one rail to another will act as the final level of mastery of the standing precision.
If you enjoyed todays article or have any further questions then write your thoughts in the comments below!
Support the contributors: Norml brand athlete and coach Tom Taylor and PT Michael “MK” Konopko.
Check Tom in action on Instagram and go to Toms website for more in depth parkour training articles.
If you’re interested in learning parkour then MK’s the man for you! Give his facebook page a like here.