Parkour is one of the most exciting and interesting activities to watch but one thing is for certain, they make it look easy. Parkour is one of the most intense and challenging physical activities on the planet and there’s a lot of work you have to put in before you can even start.
In order to reach the level needed to become a freerunner you will have to adopt a high level of discipline. That means starting with a daily routine of strength exercises for your whole body. Only after you’ve started this regimen and grown in strength will you be able to get out there and start learning the craft.
Essential Parkour Workouts to Keep You at Your Best
There are a number of specialist workouts designed for those who take part in parkour. In order to have the strength needed you’ll have to ensure that your whole body is ready, that means strengthening three key areas; your core, your upper body and your balance.
Instead of offering one rigid workout we have provided a list of different exercises for these areas. This will allow you the flexibility to create your own routine and mix it up where you like. All of the exercises involve your body weight and are well suited for parkour.
There are a wide range of benefits to having a strong core. A strong centre helps avoid a lot of typical problems of bad posture, back pain, muscle problems and more. It will also help you with all physical activity even if you think it’s not using that muscle group.
For parkour you’ll need to take this to the next level. Having a strong core will be essential for supporting yourself and giving yourself that full range of movement. In order to cultivate that strength try a combination of the following exercises:
This is one of the most important exercises you can use to strengthen your abdominal muscles. For this you won’t need any equipment just some open space around you.
Move yourself into the push up position then place your forearms flat on the floor. Hold this position but make sure you keep your back flat and tense your abs. If you’re a beginner start with 30 seconds and build up each day. You should look to be able to hold this for over a minute.
- Oblique Crunch
A twist on the classic crunch, this exercise will help you really isolate your core muscles are give them a good workout. Again you’ll only need the open space around you.
Lie down with your back on the floor and keep your knees bent in the air at 90 degrees. With your hands behind your head twist your torso so that your left shoulder moves towards your right thigh. Keep going until your upper back is off the floor then slowly lie back down. Alternate your left side and right side for as many reps as you can manage. Remember this is a daily exercise and you should add more reps in each day.
- Hanging Leg Raise
Unlike the other exercises, for this you will need a pull up bar you can hang off. This is an optional extra but you’ll really see the benefit to your core if you can work it in.
Start by hanging from a pull up bar with your hands around shoulder width apart. Lift your knees up together until they are at 90 degrees with your torso, hold for 1-3 seconds and then slowly lower back down. Aim for as many reps as you can but again, look to build on your performance each day.
Upper Body Exercises
Your upper body will be the key to your strength while you’re training so you need to make sure it’s ready. All the components of your upper body will need to work together so you’ll have to make sure they’re all trained. Below are some bodyweight exercises for each section of your upper body.
Your triceps are located on the underside of your upper arm and are really important to supporting your body. While a lot of people focus on biceps they may not realise that triceps are actually a bigger muscle group and need just as much attention.
- Diamond Push–ups:
This exercise involves the standard push up motion, but with a twist. Instead of your hands being shoulder width apart they will start meeting in the middle, with the index finger and thumbs of each hand making the diamond shape. Slowly lower yourself down and back up and you should immediately feel the exercise on your triceps.
Biceps are an important muscle group, despite being smaller than the triceps. Traditionally people have looked to build their biceps to look good so hopefully this is one which you’re more familiar with.
- Chin ups:
For this exercise you will need a pull up bar. Start with your hands shoulder width apart on the bar with your palms facing you. Grasp the bar and slowly pull yourself up then lower yourself down. You’ll hopefully feel the strain on your biceps which shows it’s working.
Your back is a large muscle group and if it’s not well trained you can have serious problems down the line. The key to avoiding these and building the strength needed for parkour is to train it regularly.
- Pull ups:
Again, you’ll need a bar for this exercise, but as it is compound you’ll feel the benefit to multiple muscle groups. Start with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Grasp the bar and pull your body up, then slowly lower yourself down. This can be a difficult exercise at first, but persevere because you will need to be able to handle pulling yourself up for parkour.
Stability and Balance Exercises
Stability and balance are essential traits for anyone serious about parkour. A strong core and body will help with your balance but the following exercises will specifically help you gain these skills.
- Single leg squats
Used to strengthen your legs, squats are another compound exercise which have multiple benefits. For this exercise you won’t need any equipment, just some space.
Start by balancing your weight on one leg with the other out in front of you off the ground. Slowly, with your arms out to the side to balance, lower yourself down as far as you can and lower yourself up. Swap legs and repeat as many times as possible.
- Rolling forearm side plank
This is another twist on the traditional plank which will strengthen your core and improve your balance and stability. Again, all you’ll need is some space around you.
Start in the plank pose and slowly shift your weight to the right, turning your forearm in to support yourself and reaching up with your left arm. Hold for 2 seconds and then slowly go back down to starting position. Then repeat but turning to the left. Repeat this as many times as possible to see the greatest impact.
Strength Needed for Parkour
Parkour requires a high level of strength. You’ll need your whole body working in unison in order to do it effectively and that means some disciplined training, daily. The exercises above are a great way to start so try mixing a combination together as a workout. By varying the exercises you’ll keep your body guessing and you’ll see more benefit.
Parkour is an elite sport and it will time to cultivate the strength needed to do it well. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first, just stay focused and keep pushing until you reach the milestones on your journey.