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Parkour Strength Training for Beginners

If parkour reinvents the world into a playground, parkour strength training reimagines benches, tree trunks, and scaffolding into novel yet useful training tools to maintain and upgrade your physical performance. Improving deceptively basic skills such as crawling, jumping, vaulting, and climbing will greatly improve your potential to face and overcome future challenges of the physical, technical, and mental variety. Before you focus on thrusting around heavy metal objects and/or friendly Homo sapiens for sport, first consider a safer, bodyweight approach to improved athleticism. Building a better movement foundation with parkour strength exercises is both an engaging and proven method to optimize your physical abilities. Here are nine of the best #ParkourStrength movements for beginners.

Wall dip

Slightly harder than a basic push-up, the wall dip is a more specific and useful upper body pushing movement for parkour. A stronger wall dip will also improve movements such as vaults and the second half of a muscle-up or climb-up. If you can easily do 10+ wall dips with perfect form, begin working on more challenging progressions.

Air squat

Air squats are a key basic lower body movement to master before moving on to skills of greater intensity or complexity. As a prerequisite to the landing (soft or hard), a critical aspect of almost all parkour movements, air squats are underrated and often overlooked. Quality form on squats and landings are key to longevity in the discipline of parkour. Similarly, the air squat is an important fundamental to practice before doing any high impact jumps and landings. Air squats past 90-degrees helps build strength in your posterior chain as well as mobility in your hips and ankles. If you want to do parkour for a long time without crippling overuse injuries, master this basic movement.

Monkey plant

The monkey plant is a practical, challenging movement that is extra useful for building leg and upper body pushing strength. Think of the monkey plant like a box jump on steroids or an obstacle-based burpee. By using the object to cover more vertical space than during a box jump, you are doing more work (force x distance) via a more complete full-body workout. A monkey plant will bring you to a squatting/standing position on top of an obstacle — useful as you transition into a jump or run. With practice, you can progress your monkey plant toward more difficult progressions like top-outs and double kongs.

Knees-to-elbows (dead hang)

Knees-to-elbows from dead hang is a solid core exercise with an application to many parkour skills that require the ability to explosively move your knees toward your chest. To learn techniques like underbars, pullovers, and laches, you must learn to lift your body from your core (abs, lower back, & hip flexors). Additionally, the movement in which you bring your knees to your chest is identifiable in many other dynamic movements including backflips, vaults, and jumps.

Wall handstand

The handstand is an important fundamental of gymnastics as well as parkour strength training. Handstands increase upper body strength, full-body tension, spatial awareness, and balance. Plus it’s a great way to practice controlling your body while upside down, making it a vital introduction to flips & spins. But it can be scary and frustrating to try freestanding handstands when first starting out. To safely develop a handstand, begin by making friends with a wall; practicing with your stomach to the wall promotes better habits and positioning than back to wall.

Broad jump

One of the fundamental power movements of parkour strength training is the broad jump. In parkour, this basic move is applied to gap jumps, precision landings, plyos, and cat leaps. The broad jump is a beauty-full-body exercise for developing power, strength, mobility, and coordination. Additionally, coaches and athletes from parkour to the NFL use the broad jump as an important and elegantly simple athlete assessment.

Quadrupedal movement (forwards, basic)

Quadrupedal movement (QM) is widely used in parkour as both a strength training exercise and a practical skill. The most simple form of QM is the reciprocating (basic), forward-moving variation. This parkour strength training movement is a killer full-body exercise that also develops the coordination and balance skills needed for vaults. In general, QM is useful as a means to get over, under, and through small spaces, navigate across irregular surfaces, and provide extra security when moving at heights.

Vertical jump to soft landing

The vertical jump to soft landing is a parkour strength training spin-off of an already well-known and useful exercise, the vertical jump. Vertical jumps build explosive jumping power while the soft landing develops the eccentric leg strength and skill needed for lovely landings. Landing with the intent of general softness or silence can be effective ways to fortify your technique and increase your ability to safely absorb impact.

Dead hang pull-up

While kipping pull-ups are generally more similar to practical parkour movements, you should first develop your dead hang pull-up. The relatively simple and safe dead hang pull-up is one of the best exercises for building the upper body pulling strength needed for better brachiating, swinging, traversing, and general climbing skills. Once you can do at least 5–10 dead hang pull-ups with perfect form, start practicing more complex pulling movements like the kipping pull-up, kipping muscle-up, and glide kip.

Learn more

If you want to learn more about parkour strength training or parkour in general, check out my booktraining programs, or online coaching. If you’re currently sitting there thinking:

“Hmm…looks interesting but I’m not even close to doing any of those.”

or…

“Yo, way too easy man.”

It’s cool, I got you both. Here’s an article I wrote about the most simple parkour strength training. And this one on intermediate parkour strength training.

Lastly, here are a few of my YouTube playlists with hundreds of other parkour strength training video demos, categorized by fitness level:


Ryan Ford is the author of Parkour Strength Training and founder of ParkourEDU & APEX School of Movement.

Join the discussion!

  • I love that these exercises are not only awesome, but that you give the rationale behind why they are awesome.
    Also – great progressions and regressions. As is to be expected I imagine, I find can do the harder progressions on some, and need to do the easier one on others. In light of this, can I ask you to comment on how you would recommend one should go about programming these?
    Cheerio!

    • Glad you liked it. Programming is such a complex topic because it depends on a lot of things like your own personal strengths, weaknesses, goals, schedule, etc. I dedicated a full chapter to the topic in my book Parkour Strength Training. I also help people out via online coaching/programming or Skype consults. If you want more info, email me at ryan@parkouredu.org

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