Benefits of Endurance Training
Tue, 2012-05-22 08:32
As parkour has evolved, so have training methods. Today you see a lot more people supplementing their parkour training with weight lifting than you did just two or three years ago. There's obviously nothing wrong with this. Many people (including me) have seen great strength and performance gains as a result of incorporating weight lifting into their parkour strength training. However, as this trend continues, I've seen many people completely reject the high repetition endurance training that parkour was built on. Below, I outline three big reasons to include endurance training into your training.
1. Well rounded athlete
A lot of sports lend themselves to specialization. American football, for instance, has big slow guys who do their job as big slow guys and smaller fast guys who do a totally different job as smaller fast guys. Parkour allows for no such specialization. By training parkour, you have set out on a quest to be a well-rounded athlete. If you ignore endurance training, you're ignoring a lot of challenges you should be facing.
2. Mental challenges
Speaking of challenges, how many times have you heard someone say "The biggest obstacles of parkour are in your mind." You hear it a lot because it's true. Endurance training gives you a great way to mentally and physically push yourself beyond what you thought you could do. These mental gains, especially, will translate to your life beyond parkour.
3. Jump breaking
Finally, and most importantly, endurance training helps you combat the biggest mental obstacles: jump breaking. Although parkour can certainly be practiced by anyone, I often feel like I'm not really training unless I'm breaking jumps.
As many strength coaches will tell you, doing high repetitions of jumps alone will not make you jump further. However, there is much more to breaking jumps than physical ability. Training with high repetitions of jumps is the only way for many people to build up the confidence required to break jumps. (At this point I should also mention that any kind of jump puts a great deal of strain your body, so you need to build up a solid level of strength before taking on workouts that include high repetitions of jumps.)
If you don't do high repetitions of jumps, you won't be as likely to have the confidence that you can jump as far and as accurately as you need to for a jump. Also, many times when we're breaking jumps we've been out training for a while. If you can only perform jumps while you are totally fresh, your training sessions will last for about 20 minutes. Training for endurance will allow you to spend more time working on jumps.
Here's the part where I admit to being one of those people that neglected endurance training. I started training parkour in 2007 and right up through about 2010, I trained mainly by going outside, finding an exercise or jump to do, and doing it a lot. When I started lifting and focusing more on power, though, I saw huge improvements in my jumping ability and saw little reason to continue with endurance training.
After a while, though, neglecting endurance training caught up with me. I couldn't train as long, I lost a lot of touch, and I no longer was confident in my jump (even though I could now jump a lot further). When I started to mix endurance work back into my training, though, I was able to start fixing all of the deficits.
The moral of the story is this: Experiment with your training. Look at new methods and educate yourself on at least the basics of exercise science--but don't neglect endurance training.