Headway PArkour Blog
Today we will explore how to get the most out of your training. All too often I see inexperienced Traceurs making simple mistakes that end up becoming daunting detriments to their careers in Parkour.
There are many different tactics you can apply to your training in order to maximize the amount of progress you cultivate everyday. I will outline a few of these tactics for you to refer to.
It is important for you to set very specific objectives for your training. Some people aim for efficiency, others want style, some do it for the fitness. It’s up to you to decide what you want to gain from your career as a traceur. Take some time to think about what you truly want before moving on.
Now that you have decided on your overall objective, you can start being more specific. I recommend spending some time every Sunday to plan out your week. What moves do you want to learn? How hard do you want to train? Who will you train with? These are all important questions which you should ask yourself before getting into your training. After you plan your weekly goals you can move onto your daily goals. Make sure that your daily goals are aligned with your weekly goals and your weekly goals are aligned with your overall goals.
Although it is important to change things up every once in a while, it is also necessary to have a rough outline to follow for everyday of your training. For example: You might warm up for 15 minutes before moving onto practicing techniques for a while, then you could finish with flow training and cool down. Just be sure that your routine is right for you, don’t do what your friends do just to fit in.
Take rest days in order to let your body recover. This is especially important if you have an intensive training program that puts a lot of stress on you and your body. Learn from my mistake: I rarely rested and trained for upwards of 6 hours every day, it was a recipe for disaster. Now i’m stuck at homes for a few weeks recovering from achilles tendinosis, not fun. Ensure that your rest days have optimal conditions for your recovery. Don’t do anything stressful and try to relax. Perhaps you could utilize active recovery to speed up healing, try a light activity such as swimming or yoga. Just be sure to stay away from any high impact activities, as these defeat the purpose of a rest day.
Try not to aim for muscle failure everyday, work up to hard training days by first partaking in a few lighter days. By deciding what you will focus on in your training you can alter the difficulty. For example: Flow days tend to be very hard on the body, so keep the amount of these per week to a minimum. Practicing techniques such as balancing could be considered for a light day.
If you are only planning to do Parkour for a year or so, by all means, go crazy and push your limits as often as you like (at your own risk). But for us long term traceurs, we need to preserve our bodies the best we can. You achieve this by staying away from body degrading techniques as much as possible. Don’t do a large jump until you have trained a slightly smaller one with no problem. Moves such as punch take offs can degrade the knees and lead to long term problems, try split step. Another thing to watch out for is Tendinosis (like I have) which is developed over time by continually putting stress on a tendon by doing things like running long distances every day or training with improper technique. Acute injuries are usually inevitable but you can prevent most of them by training with proper technique and avoiding anything you are not either physically or mentally ready for. Be sure to condition your body regularly through tactics such as bodyweight training and deep stretches.
Be sure to rest whenever injured. Stop training and go home as soon as you receive an injury. Continuing to train with an injury can lead to chronic injuries and many days without training.
While you are recovering you can spend time doing productive things, like blogging :) Most people continue to train with an injury due to big egos or peer pressure. Don’t fall into this trap, have the humility to accept that we are all humans and injuries are bound to happen.
Having a healthy diet is essential if you want to get the most from your training. I am a vegan and it has had wondrous effects on my training. However, I will not preach to you about that. Instead, I encourage you to do your own research as to what diet best fits you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and always listen to your body. The one universal tip I can give you is: stay away from junk; such as fast food and overly processed trash. For more advice on diet, email me.
Focus on Weaknesses
Weaknesses are what hold you back in your training and in life. So be sure to focus on them with the same unrelenting force that the sun imparts on the desert. Learn from your mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. Spend some time watching bail reels in order to analyze the most common routes to failure. And remember: when trying to overcome a weakness it’s normal to feel uncomfortable or unsure of yourself. By facing weaknesses you grow into a wiser, more rounded Traceur.
It is easy to get discouraged while attempting to transcend a weakness or fear. Especially when you fail many times. Instead of getting upset about what you did wrong, focus on what you did right. Reward yourself for even the smallest step forward on the path to completing what you fear. If you are ever feeling bad about yourself, think about how much you have improved since you first started training. Most people don’t realize how amazing they are until they take a moment to reflect.
It takes about 66 days for your body to accept a new move into it’s muscle memory. The best way to promote this process is to perform the move you want to master a few times everyday. It may seem unnecessary or even inconvenient but you will be glad you invested the time later on in your training when you can bust out the move flawlessly without having to think about it.
Record Yourself on Camera
It is useful to film yourself even if you don’t plan on making a showreel. You can review the films to see what would make your moves look better or what tweaks you could add to increase efficiency. Look for little details in the clips such as hand position and body orientation, small things like these make all the difference.
It is important for you as a Traceur to experiment with other training methods. For example: If you always train with a team, spend some time training alone. If you only train with people you are familiar with, meetup with someone new. By mixing up you training methods, you allow yourself to have a new perspective and you expose yourself to a vast new realm of wisdom. Jams are a great place to pick some tips on how to bring your game to the next level, attend as many as possible.
Often times we get stuck in one mindset and refuse to see things in a different light. This causes stagnation and other undesirable things such as injury. Try to change your perspective often in order to see a move or obstacle in its totality. One mind set that some of us fall into is the “Know it all” mindset. The most common victim of this mind set is a Traceur who has been training for a while and is confident in his abilities. This mind set is especially dangerous due to the fact that it causes them to ignore small flaws in their technique that may lead to bigger problems later on.
I recommend that we all try to revert back to the beautiful “Beginner” mindset; In doing so we will gain the humility to learn from our mistakes as well the curiosity to be creative and think outside the box. People who are using the “Beginner” mindset tend to ask a lot of questions. Which is great, it helps them to progress far more quickly than a Traceur who resists fixing his mistakes because of his big ego and “Know it all” mindset. Remember: everyone you meet knows something you don’t. So take the time to learn from them and don’t foolishly brush them off just because you label them as “amateur”.
Keep a Journal
As mentioned in another article, journaling is something I think every athlete should regiment into his or her program. Take time at the end of each training session to record things such as: what moves you performed well, what moves you performed not so well, how long you trained, and how much pain a certain part of your body may be giving you. These are just some examples but they make for a good starting point. The next time you are getting ready to train you can review the journal and make decisions as to what you're training for that day should be focused on.
Traveling is always a rich experience ripe with possibility. You may say “I don’t have the money or the means for such luxuries!” First off: traveling is an investment, not a luxury. Second: you don’t have to spend money to travel. Just take a walk in a new part of town or go into that forest that has been intimidating you. Traveling consists of immersing yourself in a new environment, and we can all do that.
Passing on your Parkour knowledge is a wise decision on your part. Even if you don’t have much to offer, it’s still worth it. When teaching someone a move you are forced to dissect the move and segment it into individual actions. This not only gives you a better understanding of the move but it also helps you spot ways in which you could improve your style. Heed these words: “The teacher learns the most.”
Don’t Show Off
Staying humble is one of the simplest yet most difficult things to do as a human being. However, it is the very essence of Parkour so I recommend that you master it. Not to mention, showing off leads to loss of focus and usually failure. Stay safe and train for yourself, not others.
Parkour is like a metal, if left alone for a long period of time, it will rust. So it is important that you train regularly in order to keep yourself at the highest level possible. Practice all of your moves, not just the new ones you are learning. If you aren't moving forwards, you're moving backwards. You would be amazed at how fast passion fades when we stop doing what we are passionate about.
The most important thing is to have fun. Don’t let anyone take what you enjoy away from you. Sometimes its best to just go out and do whatever your heart tells you to, it’s a good way to get back in touch with yourself and it is responsible for some of the best memories I have the privilege of possessing.
You have just finished reading my (hopefully) useful guide on how to get the most out of your training. If you have any remaining questions feel free to email me.