Being both a traceur and a rock climber, I know a fair bit about butts; when you stand under someone belaying or watch someone try a wall run: you get a good eyeful. One thing that I’ve noticed in both instances is that people like to show off their bums, sticking them way out there; this is bad.

Well, not so much bad as not good. Let us start with references to rock climbing as a prelude. Many people struggle because they do not properly use their legs: they do not get the most efficiency out of them and as a result cannot reach further or get tired quicker. Once I instruct them to utilize their legs more, the most common problem becomes where they stick their butts.

The bum and your general waist area is where your center of gravity and the middle of your body is. When you straighten out a leg, it extends through where your waist and butt were, pushing you away from your foot. If my foot is to the right and my butt is firmly over my left leg, I will be expecting to move to my left when I push off, unless I accommodate and move my butt around.

Examine the following skillfully drawn picture with care. Upon examination you will find a rather lean individual on a rock climbing wall. The person, who we will call Joe for no reason other than to avoid anonymity, has his butt a fair bit off of the wall. Joe’s current problem is this: he cannot reach the next hold from where he is.

So Joe decides that he will push up with his legs, straightening them out and increasing his reach. While Joe accomplishes this, he wastes energy. As seen in the picture, Joe’s choice location for his bottom means that he is pushing away from the wall as much as up, and he has to compensate for this by pulling in with his arms. This is a waste of energy and can lead to early exhaustion; furthermore, had Joe placed his rear good and tight to the wall, but over to one side, he would push horizontally more than vertically and not gain nearly as much height as possible.

So how does this apply to parkour?
One complaint you hear from people is that they can’t seem to get enough height from their wall runs. While you will require strength training and plyometrics in order to increase your ability, you want to maximize your potential by working on your technique. The following is an extremely brief definition of the steps involved.

As you approach the wall, you want to plant your dominant foot around waist height on the wall. The reasoning behind this is simple: any lower and you miss out on potential inches, any higher and you lose energy trying to get over your foot. Continue into the wall until you are almost kissing it, and then push up with that planted foot. I also like to add an additional tap with my hand as I go up for spatial reasons and because the motion causes my body to swing a little more into the wall and promotes greater height.

So where does all the talking about bums come into play? The second part: “Continue into the wall until you are almost kissing it, and then push up…” This is an aid to help you get nice and close to the wall. Remember that rock climber? Right now you are that climber getting ready to push up: the further out your butt is, the further backwards you will go (and you don’t have a lovely handhold to keep you close to the wall). So the goal here is to get right up to the wall before you push off to ensure the most vertical extension possible at your current fitness level.

There you have it: how to use your bum to get more from your wall runs.

7 comments and questions

  1. Evan // 18/10/08 18:07  

    This makes sense totally, but in order to get the most out of your kick you must push away from the way at 45 degrees. Unlike the climber who has a foothold that could be parallel to the ground. This also helps get that second leg tucked into the wall in cat-position, which is more stabilized then a dead hang and easier to execute a muscle-up from.

  2. Evan // 19/10/08 20:16  

    yeah, I've been busier lately, so I had to cut the blogging back a bit to keep my training at the same level. Btw I really want to do alot more indoor rock climbing this winter, any non-noob tips?

  3. Evan // 25/10/08 01:06  

    true, tell me (mail, blog etc.) when your going to the centre, cause I've been meaning to go there very soon.

  4. Admiral Sanchez // 29/11/08 00:16  

    I was wondering if you could give me some tips on the horizontal wall run (It would be great if there was an actual name).

  5. Anonymous // 9/5/09 16:52  

    hello. iv been working on my wall run for quite a long time now and i have a few problems: when i get to the top only my left hand goes up to grasp the top of the wall.
    and also i was wondering if i was to do 2 steps would it increase the hight of the wall run . is it worth working on it?
    thanks if you could answer,

  6. chad // 23/5/09 17:40  

    thanks for that
    but what about the steps does it matter how many steps you do ( to get up a virtical wall) would it be worth working on doing muliple steps of is one step good enough

    thanks for your time

  7. chad // 4/6/09 06:27  

    thanks a lot for your resoponses i find them very helpful thanks
    and btw your blog is great for new/exp traceurs. thanks for your help i will be posting more problems i run in to :)