I've been browsing the internet searching for topics and questions related to parkour that should be addressed. Whilst browsing the internet, for my leisure I was logged into an online parkour community on chatroll that I frequent and saw a post from a friend Francis who wrote:


In parkour, a traceur's challenge is to overcome obstacles with simplistic goal of getting from A to B. While obstacles vary in shape size and overall being in the majority of scenarios a large percentage of the encountered obstacles require a traceur to either go over them or find an alternative route that can bring them around to the other side. In these cases vaults and wall passes are the most commonly used, and both required the ability to jump. Parkour is about efficiency and thus it is good to work to improve on your ability to jump in order to easier overcome objects and gain more distance off your vaults. While many would work on squats and the like in order to increase their leg strength for jumps (which is also required), there is also the necessity for power.

A jump is one of many events that become more successful with an addition or increase in power. Power is defined as a measurement of how much force is exerted in an amount of time; more force in a smaller amount of time means more power. A jump is a sudden burst of energy and thus the more power and individual can exert, the higher or further the individual can jump. In order for Francis and the rest of us to improve on our jumps, we need to increase the amount of power we can exert, becoming more explosive.

One good way to achieve this is to use a branch of exercises called “Plyometrics”. The branch of Plyometrics consists of various exercises to work and increase an individual’s muscle power by performing quick movements to toughen tissues and train nerve cells to stimulate a pattern of muscle contraction that causes the muscle to generate as strong a contraction as possible in the shortest amount of time. Muscular power is determined by how long it takes for strength to be converted into speed; the ability to convert strength to speed in a very short time allows for athletic movements beyond what raw strength will allow. In order for us to jump higher, we will focus on plyometric training for our legs so that we are able to exert force in a smaller amount of time.

There however is a problem that is often overlooked, and many traceurs and other athletes who wish to improve their power head straight into plyometric exercises without a single thought. Plyometric workouts are mainly high intensity and high impact, and it may be detrimental to one’s health. I for one have bad knees and as such I am taking my plyometric regimen very slowly, however even someone with no history of knee injury or ailment suffers a lot of impact on their joints every time they try one of these exercises. Tests show that a simple three foot drop can produce a force of about two times your body weight; in my case that’s nearing three hundred pounds being pressed down on all my joints. As such I suggest that before someone starts into even the most basic of plyometric exercises, they should be able to do around one hundred consecutive body weight squats in order to show that there is the muscle strength to support the joints. I’m saying this not to be a big meanie, but to emphasis safety. You won’t be doing too much parkour if you’re stuck in bed for a month. All this being said, you shouldn’t be deterred from attempting to do plyometrics. There are simple exercises and difficult ones, and anyone can do them if the effort is provided. Almost anyone from any sport will benefit from plyometric training; an increase in power can mean an increase in sprint, jump height, kick, and tackle quality among many more.

Before I begin to conclude this blog, it should also be explained that these exercises alone will not cause you to improve as dramatically as if you continue to strength train as well. Plyometrics focus on being able to turn strength the ability to exert a great amount of force into speedy power, but in order to gain that power there needs to be that initial strength as well. Professionals dictate that plyometrics should be done only once a week due to its nature of being high impact; that leaves the six other days in which somewhere you should be focusing on strengthening your legs. While I won't go into any detail describing the many exercises that exist to strengthen the legs, I will post a few sites in the links for your further understanding and being.


RESOURCES AND LINKS:
BASICS: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
JUMPING: 1 / 2
PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES: 1 / 2 / 3
UPPER BODY PLYOMETRICS: 1 / 2
AQUATIC PLYOMETRICS: 1
LEG STRENGTH: 1 (scroll down) / 2 / 3 / 4
CHATROLL PARKOUR GROUP: 1

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