Parkour is obviously a very strenuous activity, which is why a good fitness level is very important for effective training. Besides being very conscious of your appropriate level of training and proceeding along with small, incremental steps, it is also important to consistently improve your fitness level through progressive, functional training methods. On that note, here are some steps for doing so effectively:
1. Though most people would tell you to get your doctor's approval before starting an exercise regimen, I feel that most doctors know very little about fitness in general. That being said, if you have any previous injuries, illnesses, etc. or if you're past your prime a bit (i.e. a 55 year old man who used to smoke and is 20lb overweight) it is a good idea to get everything checked out and make sure that you are at a reasonably healthy baseline level.
3. If you have any injuries, please take the time to let them heal. Yes, it can be very exciting to get involved in Parkour immediately, but we're in this for the long haul, take your time and get everything patched up first.
4. Learn the basic calisthenic movements: The Squat , The Push-Up , The Pull-Up and a basic Sit-Up . Pay very specific attention to form. If anything hurts or just doesn't feel quite right, try to find a qualified trainer to help get you started, or shoot us a line via email or the WOD comments to figure out the problem!
5. Parkour requires a very broad combination of strength, power, endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy, so your fitness program should address this. In the APK Workout of the Day, I try to vary basic exercises throughout the week to tax these all at one point, so that nothing is left out. DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF THINKING THAT A TRADITIONAL BODYBUILDING ROUTINE MAKES YOU "FIT" You need full-body movements through multiple planes of motion that test your balance and coordination.
6. Start slowly. If the basic squat is hard for you, don't try to do 100 of them your first day. Get the form down and gradually add volume as you adapt. I would say that a good base level of fitness would be 50 bodyweight squats, 25 push-ups, and 5 pull-ups. This ensures at least a general level of strength and flexiblity that will make your initial training more productive and safe.
7. Progressive overload is the name of the game. More load, more volume, done faster from one workout to the next will get you results. Keepnig everything the same week-to-week does nothing but make you bored.
Some great sites exist that have awesome free info about performance fitness and nutrition, here are a couple of the best:Crossfit
- broad, non-specific fitness. Exactly what you need to practice Parkour. Be sure to check out their FAQ and back-issues of their Journal to find more about scaling the often brutal front-page fare.Performance Menu
- A great Journal for performance nutrition and general strength and conditioning. This place has a great daily workout that is geared mostly towards Olympic Weightlifting, but would benefit a motivated Traceur nicely.BeastSkills
- Jim is a good friend of ours and an awesome athlete and coach. His site is second-to-none in its quest to unlock the secrets of many of the harder bodyweight strength skills.RossTraining
- Ross Enamait is an amazing coach and quite and ass-kicker himself. Lots of great free info, with some well-priced books that are a great bargain with tons of useful info about making due with limited equipment.