The Free Running Physique – How Useful Is This Sport?
It’s definitely not at the top of the list in terms of recommendations by personal trainers, but free running, parkour and even tricking can be a great way to build a fairly even combination of explosive power & functional strength. Practicing “lines” or “routes” (a common term among practitioners for aligning a particular set of moves/skills in a particular order and then carrying them out) will expend a tremendous deal of energy.
As someone who has participated in a variety of sports and physical hobbies, from skateboarding to muay thai – parkour is by far the most exhausting alongside tricking. There have been many times where I have had to physically take a half hour break from training and load up on carbs and protein just to be able to continue training. The lowest body fat I have ever been (<10%) was when i wasn’t particularly watching what i was eating at all, but training parkour every day or second day and muay thai occasionally. Tricking was less taxing on my muscles but far more exhausting in terms of cardiovascular endurance. One back flip isn’t particularly exhausting, but 3 or 4 in a row thrown in with order manoeuvres and tricks can leave you feeling like you’ve just ran 5 miles in 30 seconds.
If you’re struggling to find motivation to train and are looking for a fun way to lose weight and gain muscle you might want to look around for local hotspots, over the years parkour parks and tricking academies have been popping up all over Europe, The UK and The US. these sports are just as sociable as sports such as MMA or Football and tend to have much smaller and subsequently closer communities.
The downsides of this sport are somewhat limited depending on your own personality. One of the most important things about parkour is gradual progression – you don’t go from jump a meter distance to jumping a 2 meter distance overnight – you work up to it gradually, never attempting something you are confident is outwidth the confines of your ability. You must consistently improve and drill and reach new heights, but not to the point of recklessness. Younger and more immature practitioners have a tendency to learn these mistakes the hard way, although most do not. Another major downside is that recovery time, especially in beginners is pretty long. Whilst most people practicing parkour are doing it as a hobby rather than a form of exercise, it’s generally pretty advisable after a HEAVY day of training (read: over 5 hours) to take anywhere up to 3 days off until you feel like you have the energy and strength to perform at the same capacity as you previously were.
The harsh recovery period related to parkour is largely due to the fact that when most people practice it, they tend to devote an entire day of it. As it is both a hobby and a social sport, it’s easy to spend all day with your friends having fun. You can help speed up your recovery period by ensuring that you ingest plenty of protein either through meat or through protein shakes. You should also strive to have a relatively nutritionally complete diet and get PLENTY of sleep so you don’t find yourself in a position where you are too weak to train when all your friends are out and having fun.