What’s the Best Home Gym Equipment for Parkour?
If you are looking for a good workout regimen that does not require expensive home gym equipment or membership fees, then try parkour. It is literally a "movement" that encourages its practitioner to move efficiently from one point to the other.
Parkour is a good workout because it involves running, jumping and using your hands and legs. It develops your stamina, leg and core strength, flexibility, speed, agility, and body control. The good thing about parkour is it doesn't need any expensive home gym equipment. You can train anywhere and all you need is your body and a good pair of shoes (though barefoot training helps).
How Can I Train for Parkour?
Before we go to the routines and home gym equipment needed for parkour, let us first take a quick dive into this discipline.
What Is Parkour?
Parkour was first developed as an obstacle training program for military and firefighters in France during the 1980s. It was developed by Raymond Belle, a French military educator. It was his son, David Belle, who organized and refined the movements which would eventually become modern parkour.
Parkour is often called the "art of natural movement" because it involves basic human actions such as running, jumping and climbing. Due to its physical requirements, you will need a fit body. At the same time, the movements themselves develop the body further.
The main goal of parkour is to move from Point A to Point B in the fastest, most fluid way possible by moving over, under, through, and around obstacles.
The 3 P's of Parkour
Like in martial arts, parkour is also a way of thinking. It preaches the "3 P's": practice, progression, and patience.
Those big jumps you've seen in videos have been achieved after countless repetitions. Parkour preaches starting "small" before progressing to big movements. To sustain this, you must be patient enough to train your body and practice consistently.
Also, parkour involves navigating urban spaces, so you must have both self and spatial awareness. That's why it is considered a holistic workout that trains both body and mind.
What Are the Different Parkour Movements?
Parkour involves all the natural movements of the body. These are:
Parkour is considered a calisthenics exercise because it involves the whole range of body motions and control of body weight.
Where to Train for Parkour?
In parkour, the world is your playground. You can do it anywhere: urban spaces, playgrounds, parks, gyms, and even out in the woods!
Training areas are called "spots". Often, these areas have natural or man-made obstacles that can be navigated using only your body. Because of its calisthenics nature, you can also do parkour training in your own home or backyard. You can also train indoors in specialized gyms where you can practice the advanced gymnastics moves like vaulting and flipping.
How to Train for Parkour
Like in other sports, you cannot perform the various moves if your body is not fit.
Here are the traits you need to train:
- Core strength
- Leg strength
- Upper body strength
- Balance and body control
- Spatial awareness
Having a good core strength lets you perform other physical activities. It stabilizes your body when you are running or hopping from point to point. Core strength also lends support to your spine and gives you good posture.
Core strength is developed through back and abdominal exercises.
Training the muscles in your legs allows you to jump higher, faster, and farther. Well-developed leg muscles also reduce the risks of injuries as your muscles help absorb the impact of landing.
The most common leg strength exercises for parkour are squats and jumps.
Upper Body Strength
Having good upper body strength lets you climb walls and ledges, pull yourself over bars, and grip surfaces securely. Good upper body strength also allows you to support your body with your hands when you land, swing, or hang.
Common upper body strength exercises are push ups, pull ups, and handstands.
Balance and Body Control
Parkour involves navigating narrow and tight spaces, so you must learn how to shift your body weight accordingly. Some moves also require twisting and turning your body so you must learn how to control your body parts.
Two common exercises for balance and body control are walking on tight ledges and swinging on bars.
Agility allows you to quickly change speed and direction. In parkour, you need to be agile to turn corners, swing around, or change pace.
Sample agility exercises include obstacle training and fast climbing.
If you are flexible, you can bend or twist your body easily so you can vault over obstacles or sneak through gaps. This is why parkour is often paired with gymnastics, because of the flexibility requirements.
To navigate the maze of obstacles, practitioners are said to have the "tracer's eye", or the ability to "see" the route before and during movements. Parkour requires you to know where your body is in relation to your environment before you jump or climb. Also, these movements require split-second decisions, which you can only achieve through muscle memory (through countless hours of training).
What Is the Best Home Gym Equipment for Parkour Training?
Parkour is a unique discipline because it does not require much home gym equipment for training. However, if you are training indoors in a gym or similar space, you may find that some equipment is useful to maximize the training results.
Go to any parkour gym and you will always see people hanging and swinging on pull-up bars.
A pull-up bar is helpful in developing upper body strength. Pull-ups (and later on, chin-ups and muscle-ups) strengthen your shoulder muscles as well as your back, arms, and hands. This is the go-to home gym equipment because it targets several muscle groups all at the same time.
- Find a pull-up bar that is at least a foot higher than your standing reach (both hands up high).
- Grab the bar with both hands facing forward (overhand grip).
- Cross your legs behind you.
- Pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar.
- For beginners, do 1-2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1-2 minutes in between sets.
Target: Shoulder and back muscles
Progression: Underhand Pull-up
- Find a bar as you would to do an overhand pull-up.
- Instead of your hands facing forward, grab the bar with your hands facing you (underhand grip).
- Cross your legs behind you.
- Pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar level or higher.
- Do 1-2 sets of 5 reps.
Target: biceps, triceps and back muscles
- When you reach the chin level, gather all your strength and lift yourself over the bar until you reach chest level.
- Inch your body forward and push yourself up this time until you lift yourself up to the hip level.
- Do 1 set of 5 reps.
Another simple piece of home gym equipment you will need for your training is a vault box.
A vault box is simply a rectangular or trapezoidal box with a solid base and stable surface wide enough to put your hands. This is what you will need to learn train the basic vaults and jump moves of parkour. This is like a trainer box you will practice on until you can move on to the next level: the ledges, railings, and planters you will find in parks and streets. It is also used for other exercises like hurdling, plyometrics, and precision jumps.
Sample Vault Box Exercise: Vertical Plyometrics
- Find a vault box about as high as your hips (3 feet).
- Stand about one foot away from it.
- Jump as high as you can.
- Don't land on the floor. Instead, tuck your legs up and land with your feet on the surface of the box.
- Carefully dismount and repeat the routine.
- For beginners, do 1-2 sets of 5 reps.
Target: Leg and calf muscles
- Increase the vault box height to 4 or 5 feet.
- Increase reps from 5 to 10.
- Increase sets to 3-4.
Here's how to construct your own vault box:
Yoga Mat / Padded Gym Surface
While not technically home gym equipment, a yoga mat is an indispensable item for parkour training. It lets you lay on the floor for various stretches and floor exercises. It also offers good enough padding to cushion your feet during jumps, lands, and rolls.
Sample exercise: Push-Ups
- Lay flat on the floor face down.
- Put your hands on the floor parallel with your shoulders.
- Push yourself up gently (elbows should not flare too far away from the body).
- Keep your back straight and your feet together as you push.
- Do 1 set of 15 reps, or 1-3 sets of 10 reps.
You don't need to spend money on an expensive gym membership or fancy home gym equipment to train your body. With parkour, you can train both indoors and outdoors. As with any workout, always observe proper form and be safe. And most importantly, keep it fun!