As some of you may know (since a fair bit of traffic comes from there) I am a member of Yahoo Answers, and spend some of my spare time answering any questions I can find on parkour. Recently a theme has seemed to develop, and a lot of people are asking what they can do to help condition their bodies for parkour. Physical fitness is a significant part of parkour when development and progression is at interest, taking precedence over technique and possibly mentality as well (though the two are quite similar in significance). The following is what I generally responded to them with in response to their queries and are things that I myself have tested and currently still perform on a regular basis.

The majority of your conditioning for parkour should utilize calisthenics (body weight workouts) as you are constantly working with your own weight. Other people will use free-weights and the like, and really that is up to you to choose, but I prefer calisthenics because there is always an ability to progress to a different level of difficulty and they can be done virtually anywhere.

Start on a fresh day and see how many consecutive push-ups you can do. Depending on how high your result is it is, subtract either five (for lower numbers) or ten (for greater values) from this and make this as your set repetition number. Do a set of this many repetitions at least twice a day. It will get difficult after a few days through exhaustion, so take a day or two to rest, it is mandatory that you rest a lot in order for your muscle tissues to rebuild. After a week or two, reevaluate and reset your repetition number. I went this summer (having been out of shape for a bit) from 15 to 75; but it took commitment and other training too of course. I once more emphasize that you should remember to take required rest days; forcing yourself forwards will lead to injury.

The other "ups"
In parkour a common obstacle is a simple wall; once you have wall-runned your way to grabbing the top, you are often left hanging. Pull-ups are good for overcoming this since your hands are facing the same way as when you grab the top of a wall (like a chin-up with palms facing away from your person) and this can aid you in your progression over the wall. You can also do the classic chin-ups (as well as many variations which often include different leg placement or different chin-up bar widths - the thicker the bar, the more it taxes your forearms). Finally, the big one as far as the 'ups' family goes is the muscle-up. A muscle up begins as a pull up, but when you get to the top of the pull-up you keep going until your waist is at bar level. This is very difficult and it has been said that each muscle-up takes the same effort as twenty-five pull-ups and twenty-five dips combined.

Dips are one of the few basic (that is to say that exercise form isn't altered in order to accomplish it) calisthenic moves that works your triceps. I suggest doing them as much as you can, but ensure that your shoulders don't go below your elbows as this places unnecessary stress on your shoulders. You can also do 'diamond push-ups' for your triceps - simply make a diamond with the thumb and index finger of each hand and place it between your nipples on the ground. Push-up from there.

For my core, I do a little circuit that I constantly change. Some days I increase reps of a certain exercise, some days I will try to do more circuits. Here is the set I did yesterday as an example: I did three circuits with one minute pauses in between. Full range crunches (10 rep), four count crunches (15 reps), circle crunches (15 reps each direction), ankle sweeps (10 reps per side), bicycle crunch (25 reps per side), reverse crunch (50 reps), twisting sit-ups (20 reps), full range crunches (10 reps).

Four by four
This is another circuit I created that I can do at home or anywhere else practically. Find a place where you can do dips and chin-ups within 100m of each other. The circuit consists of doing four exercises for four reps each, and then you do as many sets as you can. Start with four chin-ups, then four pull-ups; if there is any distance in between, sprint to your dip location and do four of those, then end with four push-ups. Do this as many times as possible, once on a very good day I can achieve over 30 consecutive sets.

Card games
For another interesting touch to your workout, play a game of cards. Grab a pack of cards and label each suit as an exercise (i.e. Hearts=push-ups, Diamonds=reverse crunches, Spades=pull-ups, Clubs=dips). Draw three cards at a time and do each exercise for as many reps as the card's value (face cards are always ten and aces are one). This gets very difficult to do once you're half way through the deck, do what you can. You can also do variations when you’re with friends such as playing poker where the losing hand has to do all the exercises of the winning hand’s cards.

I have mentioned how to work on increasing the potential of your lower body in this article on plyometrics, and intend to continue this in a future article on running.

There is a great deal more exercises, including those with weights, which I have not outlined. I bring forward these methods and exercises because I use them and can guarantee a good workout if they are done properly. Over the last few months I have worked to develop a level of fitness where I perform some sort of strenuous exercise or activities daily and have seen a great deal of personal improvement. If you are to achieve results, you must work to your maximum potential (avoid the work-to-exhaustion rule, it has been proven wrong or not entirely accurate by a fair few members of the physiological society) and maintain a level of commitment.

5 comments and questions

  1. stevenage freecore team // 13/11/08 13:38  

    i have just started parkour and well looking for ways to improve in my training im progressing well in my moves and looking for ways to get a good training rasueme going i am only 14so i cant do weights so looking for a good traing program and how to inprove my moves.

  2. hopefulOLDguy26 // 7/4/09 16:31  

    I am curently in the army and am in pretty good shape. i want to get started in parkour but am worried about the fact that i am 26 and that i have no gymnastics background. Will i be able to learn or did i miss out.

  3. notSOoldGUY // 9/4/09 18:34  

    Hey thanks a lot for the boost to my confidence. Im not going to lie i really want to do occasional spins but the fluidness you see with great traceurs is what i really want. i dont just want to jump over a bench on the way to the bus. and yes i have been through a lot of those cources and they are rough but a lot of fun. i love this site by the way great pointers for getting in shape and begining. only thing i am wondering about is what are the basic moves to learn. like an ollie is to skate. i have allready started running way more offten and doing the high hoping and just jumping as high as i can over and over. but i am really wanting to start doing something even if it is over a small brick lol. again thanks a lot for the site.

  4. blox5000 // 21/7/10 07:59  

    Hey I just read your article and it's a great help. I'm a pretty new traceur (I'm only 13) and honestly, I think I'm kinda out of shape :/. Anyways I've been looking for ways to condition my body for parkour,but I have a question about your push-up section. You say subtract 5 or 10 depending on if it's a high or low value. What exactly would do you mean by high? I really hope you can help. Thanks again for the article.

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