The only two movement skills you need to train are:
1) The ability to move your body from one position to another without using too much energy (this is called strength).
2) The ability to perform complex movements with minimal effort.
These are known as motor control skills.
Strength is the most important skill you need to develop. Strength develops muscle mass, which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to fuel your muscles’ metabolism. Muscle mass allows you to lift heavier weights or do more reps than someone with less muscular build. Muscles also allow you to run faster, jump higher, throw farther and so forth.
Without strong muscles, it would be difficult for anyone to lift heavy objects or move their bodies around effectively at all!
Muscle mass is also required for other activities such as climbing stairs, jumping rope, throwing a football and so forth. If you don’t have enough muscle mass to perform these tasks successfully then you won’t be able to do them at all! Strength training will increase your overall physical capabilities.
Motor Control skills are also very important. Motor control refers to the ability of your brain and nervous system to coordinate the actions of your muscles and joints together in order to accomplish specific tasks. With good coordination, you can perform tasks more efficiently and with greater ease.
For instance, if you are throwing a baseball at your target, then having good motor control would allow you to throw the ball where you want it to go (as opposed to throwing it completely off target). Having good coordination makes everything you do much easier!
With strength skills, you can lift heavy objects or do more reps than someone without as much muscle mass. With good motor control skills, you can perform tasks with greater ease and accuracy.
An important thing to realize is that you don’t need to have equal strength in each of your limbs. In fact, it’s not even desirable. Most people are stronger on one side than the other. It doesn’t matter if you’re stronger on your right or left side, as long as you can do more with that arm or leg than your opponent can!
So how do you train these two skill together?
By doing weight training and specialized exercises that work on your neuromuscular coordination.
Here is a good example of a core exercise that will work on both strength and coordination:
The Squat Thrust
Stand with your feet just outside shoulder width. Hold your arms straight out in front of you to help maintain balance. Bend your knees and sit back with your hips as if you were sitting down on a chair. Your knees should bend as your hips move back and your torso goes forward.
This is the squat position. From here, keep your torso leaning forward while thrusting your arms straight up in the air. Your upper body should stay leaning forward while you rapidly bring your legs back into the squat position and then stand up quickly. Make sure to keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your toes as you rapidly bring them forward.
Basically, you’re doing a sit-up while hopping your legs forward and backward. Start off with slower movements and eventually increase the pace until you’re quickly switching from sitting to standing. This motion will strengthen your hip flexors, abdominal muscles, as well as your thighs.
It will also train you to coordinate your movements, because if you try to do this too fast, you’ll fall flat on your face! You should also be quick in all your movements if you want to be good at parkour.
This will be one of the simpler exercises you’ll do. Of course, there are many other types of exercises that can increase your strength and neuromuscular abilities.
The point is, you shouldn’t just train for strength or just train for endurance and coordination. You should train for both! You need to be able to run fast and hard when you need to, but also be able to slow down and move with great precision when the time calls for it.
In parkour, it is not the strongest that survives, it’s not the fastest that survives, it’s the one that combines all of these abilities the best that survives. Remember this and you will go far.
So, you’ve learned how to move properly and you’ve learned what exercises are good to do. Next is the question on what equipment you should use.
You don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment to start out. In fact, all you really need are some tennis shoes. Or, if you want, you can go barefoot as the monks did when they created parkour!
From there, all you need are some simple things to help you train. Here are some suggestions of what to use and what can be thrown in a bag to take with you on the go:
Weighted Vest: A weighted vest is a must have for any training routine. It will strengthen your cardiovascular fitness and your muscular strength. They also come with lots of pockets to place weight plates in so you can increase the level of difficulty as you get stronger.
Chin-Up Bar: Another good tool for building up your strength and endurance, chin-up bars are an essential if you want to climb buildings like the monks did. You can find these in many locations, but it’s best to have one at home so you can train in the comfort of your own house.
Plyo Box: Also known as a “box jump,” this item will help you learn to move quickly in locations as well as build up strength in your legs. You can either buy a plyo box from a sporting goods store or you can just use something that is the right height. It’s just about anything 2 feet high and big enough for you to stand on. These are also good to have in your home so you can practice whenever you want.
Parkour-Friendly Surface: While you don’t need anything other than the ground to train, sometimes it is useful to have certain items around that will allow you to train more effectively. Rails, small bricks, and lawn chairs are all good examples of items that are either commonly found in most yards or can be picked up at a store for a reasonable price.
Monks never really used any specialized equipment when they first created parkour back in the 1700s. The only thing they really used was their determination to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
You can do the same today. But, if you want to get more out of your training or are just looking to have fun, then there are some items that can really improve your training.
If you want to be like the monks of the past who trained for years on end, then you shouldn’t use any equipment at all. You should train as they did: with only your body and nothing more.
But, if you want to get going right away or need an extra boost, here are some suggestions.
It really doesn’t matter what you use to train. Some people have even trained with heavy furniture before. The most important thing is that you find something that allows you to move in a way that is similar to the real thing. So if you are planning on practicing your vaults, then you need something that you can push off of.
If you are planning on practicing climbing, then you need something that you can grab onto.
The important thing is to not get discouraged if what you have available doesn’t perfectly mimic what you see other people do. Always remember that even the monks didn’t have all the things they needed at their training grounds in France!
From there, it’s really up to you to decide how far you want to take your training. If you only want to learn the basics, then you are all set. If you want to become a master, then there are a few other things you can do.
One of the reasons why people have such a hard time staying motivated is that they don’t take advantage of the things that motivated them in the past. This includes music, friends, and anything else that got you moving in the first place.
So why not take advantage of all these things?
Music is a powerful motivator. After all, it was the beat that made you start dancing in the first place!
So why not create a playlist of songs that make you feel motivated or pump you up?
Upon hearing a song that you like, try to see if you can move to the beat of it and if it doesn’t distract you too much from what you’re doing. If it does, then maybe that song isn’t for you.
After you’ve made a bunch of songs that you like, you can make an official playlist of them on your favorite music website or app. Then you can listen to it whenever you’re on the train or going for a walk around town. Try to synchronize the movements that you’re making with the music!
This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your training and give you something to look forward to whenever you’re feeling tired or bored.
When you have a hard time finding the motivation to keep going, music can help you get your groove back.
It’s very possible that when you started dancing, it was with friends. When you were all having a good time together, nothing could stop you.
That’s because having friends push us to do things we wouldn’t normally do by ourselves. It’s also why we remember those times so fondly.
So why not try to reconnect with those people again?
It might be a little awkward at first, but you never know. They might still be interested in what you’re doing with your life and happy that you contacted them.
There are also online groups and forums where people discuss fitness and dancing. You can talk to them just as you would with people you know IRL. Social media is also great for this as well!
The important thing is that you find people who are going through or have gone through something similar to you. This way, you can all motivate one another along the way and have people to count on when you need help or inspiration.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to find people, you can always continue to rely on yourself and the resources that are available online. It’s up to you!
Regardless of what methods you decide to take, it’s important that you remember WHY you started dancing in the first place.
Is it because you wanted to feel free? Is it because you wanted to impress a girl? Is it because you wanted to prove something to everyone who said you couldn’t do it?
Whatever the reason, you need to keep that in mind and avoid getting frustrated or disheartened.
If YOU stop having fun, then what’s the point of doing all this in the first place?
The secret is to find a healthy balance between enjoying yourself and still pushing yourself every now and then.
If you can keep these things in mind, then there’s nothing stopping you from having an awesome time and getting into phenomenal shape!
I hope this book has helped you on your journey. Good luck and remember to always have fun!
Sources & references used in this article:
System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space by BJ French, KR Ferguson – US Patent 6,430,997, 2002 – Google Patents
System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space by BJ French, KR Ferguson – US Patent 6,308,565, 2001 – Google Patents
System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space by BJ French, KR Ferguson – US Patent 6,765,726, 2004 – Google Patents
System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space by BJ French, KR Ferguson – US Patent 7,359,121, 2008 – Google Patents
System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space by BJ French, KR Ferguson – US Patent 6,876,496, 2005 – Google Patents