In For The Long Haul: Stamina in Parkour

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In For The Long Haul: Stamina in Parkour

Even though more and more practitioners have access to the right information to learn how to train properly, I’m still surprised to see that only a very small amount of those practitioners dedicate regular time to work and improve their stamina.

I personally think that improving one’s cardiovascular fitness is one of the main bases for a good methodology of training, regardless of the activity practised.

Fact is, most of the actions practised in the parkour context require some static force, some explosive force and some dynamic force. I won’t go too much into details in this article regarding the way energy (Adenosine-Tri-Phosphate=ATP) used by the muscles cells (fibres) is created, but to be brief there are 3 ways to get ATP:  Two of them don’t require oxygen (the system anaerobic alactic = Creatine-Phosphate system and the system anaerobic lactic), and one does require oxygen (system aerobic). The types of fibres which are involved in the explosive and dynamic strength are mainly fast twitch. They use the energy provided mainly by the anaerobic alactic system (with Creatine-Phosphate). With this system, those fibres (fast twitch) can create a huge amount of ATP, which is crucial for a very intense and sudden effort. But this energy can be held and used for only a few seconds because this is the time needed to burn and transform, at maximum intensity, all the Creatine-Phosphate (CP) into this ATP. To be able to repeat a similar effort, the CP will have to be regenerated. The speed of the regeneration process is dependent upon the number of components involved in it and the quantity of oxygen available…

You may feel a bit confused with the information above, and I can understand if your question is “why should I focus on developing cardio that involves the aerobic system when most of the stuff I am doing in Parkour involves mainly the anaerobic system?” Well, it’s difficult to give you a very simple explanation in just a few words, however, what you should consider is this: when your heart works close to or at its maximum ability, it is able to provide quickly a very important quantity of oxygen into your entire body and brain. This is one of the main elements to guarantee all the inner mechanisms are working at the best of their capabilities. Oxygen is directly and/or indirectly involved in all these mechanisms. The role played by oxygen is crucial in many processes such as: creation of ATP through the aerobic system (Kreps cycle), improving the concentration(focus), regeneration of Creatine-Phosphate in the anaerobic alactic system, increasing the number of sponges against lactic acid which is a limiting factor for the performance, regeneration of the bones’ cells, improving the respiratory system (better blood flow), increasing the immune system, improving the speed of the rehabilitation process etc…

As mentioned above, to develop the explosive and dynamic strength needed in parkour, it would be logical to dedicate some time to specific drills which will involve and increase the components of the anaerobic alactic system to become more efficient. I would recommend and encourage setting some training sessions which involve the repetitions of very short (less than 7 seconds) and very intense efforts (maximum or supra-maximum). However, if you spend some time to develop the components of the aerobic system (cardio) in the first instance, before and at the same time that you are developing any other systems, you will definitely push forward the boundaries of your strength, your resistance, your endurance, your speed, your flexibility etc…

It may sound a bit strange to you to involve the components of the aerobic system into your parkour training, as parkour actually requires in priority some explosive ablilities. But, if you would liketo beable to perform at the highest level of your potential for a long period, you will have to consider including some regular stamina sessions into your parkour training because the components of the aerobic system are involved a lot in the anaerobic processes. If you don’t do this, you may seriously limit your progression.

There are many ways to improve your cardio in parkour but like anything else, if you want to make the training efficient, you will have to structure and give an order to the sessions. I will be providing further information about this in a later article.

by Francois ‘Forrest’ Mahop