Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

LCHS Conditioning 3 (lower body)

July 9

We started at the track. Went for a jog, then literally kicked our butts, then high knees, then backwards. That was lap 1, a quarter mile. Lap 2 was galloping sideways, springing to the side as our legs closed together then spread apart in landing in preparation for the next spring! That went on for a hundred yards, then we walked as the track turned. Grapevine step for fifty yards. Then jogging. Walked as we approached the start of lap 3, which we sprinted the first hundred yards of. Walk the turn. Next was cat crawls for fifty yards. Up and run fifty. Walk the curve. Lap 4, sprint the length of the football field, walk the rest of the way. I was surprised at that, I thought for sure Taylor would make us do backwards cat crawls. Anyway, good warm up :] Though I felt he'd gone easy on us, and Brian backed my sentiments...

We came back to the "lunch" area of the school, with rocks and trees and tables. "Find a precision two feet short of your max, and do it fifty times." Tayzon said he'd originally wanted to do a hundred, but when he'd been with Ninjaboy, Paul had said no way. For the moment I was glad a vet's own refusal had lightened our task, but after I did my fifty I wished we had been asked to do the hundred. It hadn't felt crazy impossible enough.

Course I did adjust my requirements a little. Instead of worrying about distance, I focused on two landing surfaces I was nervous about, two different sorts of table benches, one slick and one rickety. There was a slight height difference, and I knew I'd be fine if I jumped up enough so most of my force was focused on down, sticking me to the landing. But that did absolutely nothing for the movie reel I had looped in my head of my feet sliding forward and my shins bashing open on the table edge. Oh yeah, blood and everything. My mind likes the dramatic.

So I jumped, Greg faintly in the back of my head ('Just go!'). I checked myself. Nope, no blood, no cut flesh, nada. In fact I'd let my upper body fall forward to catch myself with my hands for reassurance. Slightly smug I'd survived, I turned and leapt back on the slightly higher, wobbly bench. Easy. In fact wobbly didn't bother me, wobbly I could adjust. Action reaction. Slippery was just Reaction! Path rerouted! Even if it were just my toes sliding a few inches forward.. made me grimace, but I kept doing it (now without my hands) and learned to control the direction of my force. And the amount - I got quieter.

A short circuit of follow the leader, ah, followed, mostly involving precisions and waist-high landings with two step run ups. We did the little route 5 or 6 times, then rested and got water before closing out with more familiar conditioning exercises. Jumps up stairs, calf raises, shin raises, different kinds of qm, hopping on one foot, etc. I don't think I pushed myself enough because I definitely wasn't dead, but the session had taught me a lot about my jump, and parkour certainly doesn't knock the research of ability.

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Comment by Seng on July 12, 2008 at 3:51pm
Oops, rereading my post, I think I forgot to add a very important note which was that on my college team, we practiced 5x/week and had probably a 85/15 play/conditioning ratio during practices with no conditioning-specific sessions whereas the club team practice together about 3x/week + personal conditioning sessions. In the end, probably a similar ratio of team/individual work for each.
Comment by orem on July 12, 2008 at 2:13am
And Chris, that actually hadn't been what I was getting at, but interesting point :] It probably would have been better if I'd said sit ups and catleaps are the same kind of thing: repetition of movement to condition your body. I mean I think we shouldn't give the popular "moves" as much credit as they have. When you repeat them, they're just another sort of conditioning exercise, like a pull up or jump rope. I'm saying you basically are conditioning until you do a run. ..but of course, you could even consider runs conditioning on some level ;) But in this case, I'm defining conditioning as repetitive movement to aid the body's overall movement.

Sit ups don't have to be knocked when you're doing an underbar fifty times anyway. Unless you're out running through the city, I don't see a point in shunning traditional conditioning drills in a session.
Comment by orem on July 12, 2008 at 1:51am
Mmm, I still enjoy what we have over here. Let me explain how our sessions usually go: people show up, warm up however they like (usually with a jog, a little qm, and some stretching); then we move from spot to spot practicing moves, playing games, sporadic sets of conditioning, and I'm hoping a full run is going to become regular in these sessions - Greg's coming again to UCLA tomorrow and he and I have already planned on doing another one; anyway, then we end the session with lots of conditioning, still using energy where one might be a little too tired to keep one's coordination well and would risk injury training moves. It feels much more fulfilling to me to train this way, and I have watched clearly my increase in strength and durability. Sure we have sessions that are labeled just conditioning sessions, like the one I wrote about here, but I see only benefits from throwing in conditioning wherever you can.

And G don't worry about the fun part ;) I wouldn't train this hard if I wasn't loving every piece of it. I crave a harder workout specifically because I relish my body rising to the challenge. To me this is great fun :D I will straight up refuse to do things if I'm not feeling it, I don't work against my will.
Comment by Seng on July 11, 2008 at 6:52pm
I second the ideas that conditioning sessions should be specific and separate from regular training sessions and that parkour is conditioning in itself. Both are training, but one is general fitness and the other is activity-specific; to be more simplistic, the first is overall fitness, the second is coordination.

Since most of my background is in team sports, I'm going to make another parallel. On some ultimate frisbee teams I've played on, we would have track sessions and regular practices. At the track sessions, you wouldn't be able to tell what sport we were playing because it was all running, no throwing the disc around, no plays, no offense/defense, etc. Track sessions had different attendance than team practices- usually groups of 4 or 5 perhaps, others were expected to do work on their own if they couldn't make it whereas team practices were the whole team of about 20 folks. The regular practices were primarily drills and scrimmages which inherently included lots of running so while practices had a latent conditioning function, they were primarly to focus was game-specific skills.

So back to parkour, think of your body as a team- something that has to bring a lot of systems together to work in coordination for maximum effect. General fitness conditioning sessions might work small groups together- your lungs and legs while running, your arms or abs doing pullups and situps, etc; parkour sessions work the groups together as well as your brain in adapting to new obstacles (like scrimmaging or playing other teams).

Maybe this parallel doesn't mean much to people who don't do team sports, but I guess my points are that serious conditioning is probably more effective when done outside a session but you can still get a lot done on both fronts by working hard just doing parkour. BTW, I was maybe the only one on the team who never went to a team track session so that my advice for what it's worth.
Comment by SafeNSure on July 11, 2008 at 5:44pm
- paragraph 1.): that's what I thought (but not how it sounded...)
=)

- paragraph 2.): yes, that's a very debated topic...
In synthesis I will say that if you train MANY repetitions and variations of "moves", then you thread them together (like 15/20...), then you increase the distance among them, and finally you speed up the time that it takes to cover the whole path, repeating the process 5/10 times and then changing to another configuration, you are probably training pk and conditioning "enough" at the same time...

- paragraph 3.): sounds like what I'm describing above, so where does the "training to exhaustion" come in to place?
IMO, if anywhere, in a separate session; because it won't affect the execution of the pk-part, preventing from the potential danger of a misstep or a mishandplant (nobody wants to vault with a blurred vision, or land a precision with heavily fatigued legs...), and also from overworking joints (there's so much wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles and knees can take -I listed them all, because they kinda hurt all a bit, lol-).
The controlled environment (a weight room, pool, road+bike, track/field...) allows to maximize result and minimize risks...

"When" is that exhaustion training, on top of the regular one, necessary?
For sure when in need of filling in deficiencies (aerobic capacity, low upper body strength, specific power exercises, pure running ability, etc.).
But also not to kill the long-term pk "fun"... I mean, it may seem impossible, but moderation is often useful to preserve the original spirit (when one thinks in terms of decennial practice, not months...).
"The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long"...
That's all I'm sayin'.
;)
Comment by Chris on July 11, 2008 at 5:24pm
Its an interesting example you bring up...cat leaps or squats being the same. They are very different in terms of conditioning. The big difference is impact. Squats can condition your legs for impact, whereas cat leaps are impact. There is certainly a use for doing both separately. Do the squats and your landing will be softer on the cat leap. Then do the cat leaps to refine the technique.
Comment by orem on July 11, 2008 at 3:20pm
whoa ok maybe i over stated things a bit. "To the point of collapse" I meant in the sense that I'd willingly collapse, not that it was involuntary. After I got water and took a few minutes break I was totally ready to do more stuff. Even when people were cooling down I wanted to play some more (but to my disappointment everyone seemed finished :P). I seriously doubt I've ever over-trained. I enjoy lying around too much for that to happen. I just meant Cliff especially knows how to push me, and I need to learn how to be as disciplined on myself so I don't need him around to get that level of work out of me.

Pk is conditioning enough...... now that's a very interesting statement, especially depending on what you think pk is. Just last Saturday I realized doing an actual run is dramatically different than the 'parkour' I'd been doing before. At that point you're just getting over stuff however you physically can - the 'training' I'd been doing earlier was much more jungle gym style: do a move, maybe even do a couple moves, in a small area. That's where pk might feel like big kid playground, because that's seriously how it's being treated. When you do a run, there's far more of an obstacle course mentality: doesn't matter how you do it, just get past the obstacle and keep running. Lol, it's like, "screw 'moves;' if you're faster, you win..(as in you get away or overtake, whatever you're goal is)"

My point to all this is conditioning should be strengthening your basic abilities to move, so if you want to do that by catleaps or squats, fine, but to me they're the same deal - just the repetition of a move. I disagree that conditioning should be a separate session when really in "parkour sessions" you're repeating certain moves most of the time ;) I think they naturally coexist.
Comment by Chris on July 10, 2008 at 9:40pm
Actually I think you can do without it...you just probably shouldn't ;)
Comment by SafeNSure on July 10, 2008 at 9:03pm
...ok, that's been a HUGE topic of discussion at a recent meeting, which also Chris and Cliff attended.
Conditioning.

Everybody agrees that you can't do without... no need to preach to the converted.
But, as Cliff has rightly stated "as we all know, Parkour is not purely physical"...
And even conditioning has to be done in measured way, like pk itself, not recklessly.

I guess I see conditioning as something separate from a pk session (like weight lifting, "pumping iron", dry training, barre a terre, etc.), while -of course- a pk training session is gonna be conditioning "too".

But, my thinking is more along the lines that neither a sprinter nor a marathon runner train running to the point that they can't move their legs anymore, "to the point of collapse".
That happens only because of (a) very poor initial condition, (b) competitive over-effort (forcing OVER ones limits, dehydration, cramps...), (c) over-training.
They may, more likely and instead, shoot their legs to death when squatting weights...

And btw. the personal best performances of runners come statistically when they get to the end with still something to give... still (relatively) "fresh"...

So, I dunno... while I gladly agree that we needed more warm-up at our SF parkour training sessions (and Chris is working on that, namely on us...lol), I like to think that pk, at any level is conditioning enough (especially because we are not in for a competition) that it's enough to push specific training harder (30 cat leaps, instead of 3...), and leave the conditioning for completely separate sessions (running, swimming, weight training, biking, etc.).

Also, on the long term (and in my humble 20+ years athletic AND spectator experience), it's gonna keep pk fresh and more likely to remain "for life".
My 3 cents...
=)
Comment by orem on July 10, 2008 at 12:36pm
Heheh, yeah the aftershock... and you're right, my recovery time is definitely getting better, but that means I have to keep pushing myself further.

You see, Cliff will give me stuff to do until I actually collapse. And then he'll still make me finish the set except maybe halve the number. By the end of our work last Thursday, I could barely jump more then a few inches off the ground. So then we did running stuff, and fetch. I was happy for fetch because it was something I could still do and throw myself in. I kept returning the ball to him long after my body wanted to curl up and lie down, until my returning steps toward him were a bit robotic, slow, and weaving, like a drunk. Then I got water and rested for a few minutes before we did some more. That's what I'm talking about dead. I was never to the point of collapse last night, I'm not as good about giving myself continuous tasks to focus on like Cliff and King are. And that's just something I have to change :)

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