Have you ever noticed those groups of people who jump off steps and bounce around parks and city streets like crazy ninjas? Maybe you noticed the latest television commercial showing a new fitness program called Extreme, Parkour or Free Running? Side holds off lamp posts, back tucks off stairs and climbing buildings are some of the more intense tricks you might have seen on TV and in the movies. You can take this sport to a park and have some fun with it even if you are not a true expert! Just be very careful because it can indeed be extreme and rather dangerous!
The basic idea is to keep moving and avoid stopping by using obstacles as your medium for jumping, hopping, climbing, bouncing and flipping. If you find a park with jungle gym equipment, you can use the various monkey bars with your hands or try climbing and walking on them and then sliding down and hopping to the ground. Side hops over stadium seats rather than just simply running the stairs is the whole idea if you are in a park with stands. You don’t want to use the obstacle or object as it is traditionally used but rather use it in a new and interesting way to get to your next obstacle. When you hit an area which has no obstacle then you can roll, cartwheel, leap, hop, spin or use any other tricks you know how to do while keeping the intensity high and the movement flowing. You can help set things up with various items like rocks or cones for spaces which are open between your obstacles.
Keep things easy and slow when first starting out and find areas which are suitable while wearing knee and elbow pads for protection against scrapes, cuts and bruises which can easily happen during this type of training. Balance is also a critical factor when doing these workouts so spend some time practicing with stability exercises before starting. Remember this is for fun and to help kick up your fitness regimen to a new level so above all, do not get hurt! There are extreme fitness classes you can take which will help you learn the basics along with how to safely progress. Avoid doing these workouts on wet or icy days and the ideal time is on nice weather days when it’s dry and sunny outside. Once again, you need to be very careful because this type of training is super intense and dangerous since you will be pushing your body to new limits and could easily get hurt. Always start off slow with easy obstacles and it’s probably smart to wear a helmet and other body protection (knee and elbow pads) to be on the safe side.
You might be able complete 2-3 five-minute stints at first if you’re already in great shape. This is a completely new style of training compared to traditional cardio and weight training workouts so be in for a surprise and don’t get discouraged if you can only do very short increments for each session. No matter how physically fit you are, this can be super intense so progress slowly. Focus on practicing 2-4 times per week.
Some excellent plyometric exercises you can do to help prepare your body for this type of training include tuck jumps, leaps, squat leaps, box jumps, lateral jumps and calve leaps which will help prepare the body to explode and spring along with improving hamstring torque.
Some effective strength training exercises you can do to help prime your body for these intense workouts include single leg squats with a ball, barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, hamstring curls, shoulder and chest presses as well as most bodyweight exercises since many of the upper body moves used in these extreme fitness workouts require a high level of shoulder and chest strength. Core exercises for the abs and lower back will also benefit your body toward this sport. With these weight training options I suggest higher repetition training with lighter weight except for the bodyweight exercises where you will be lifting your own body and working toward higher reps anyway. Good luck and remember to never push yourself too far or use dangerous obstacles when partaking in this style of training.