Maxwell Strength & Conditioning Blog

Enjoy a peek at the world through Steve's eyes as he delivers sermons on everything from training to peace of mind.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Q & A with Coach: Longevity in Parkour

Hello Steve,

I am training the four basic human movements: climbing, running, jumping, and landing jumps as they are of great use in life. Many people refer to this as parkour however I have excluded all useless movements such as kongs, flips, plyometric workouts, and excessive flexibility.

What is your recommendation regarding longevity in this field? -- Suleyman


I've often thought about this question myself, Suleyman:

Where do these skills have a place in modern man's life?

A couple experiences I've had, off the top of my head, are jumping over large puddles, to keep my feet from getting soaked -- that's relevant. I also like hiking and jogging along trails where I need to hop over something or jump over something. I particularly enjoy hopping across rocks in streams and rivers -- it's a fun little challenge. Like yourself, I would like to be able to maintain that for life.

But, let me offer you a cautionary tale: recently, in Japan, where I was rock-hopping along a fast-moving river -- the stones were quite slick -- and although I was being careful, and my shoes were well-tractioned, I had a mishap on a very slick rock and took a pretty good fall.

Falling on rocks at 64 is not advisable. Though I know how to fall, and took the fall pretty well, taking most of the brunt on the right butt-cheek, I really smacked up the right forearm and finger and worse, put a hole in my favorite hoodie. It could have been pretty bad, so just saying... it's one thing to take the falls in your twenties.

As you mentioned, parkour looks great in the action movies, but doesn't hold much practical value, because of the significant risk of physical injury. Every activity on earth has a risk-to-benefit ratio and if the risk exceeds the benefit, for me, that's when I know it's not my bag.

But here's the thing: it's a sliding scale as you get older. The same benefit-to-risk for a man in his twenties is certainly going to be different than a man in his 30s, 40s and 50s... and beyond.

I do believe, however, that jumping can be very useful and I like to practice standing broad-jumps, and I look at this as a bio-marker of aging. I can still jump a few inches plus my height and I can also make a standing-jump over something waist-high... well, closer to upper mid-thigh by now.

That said, anytime you expose yourself to jumps like this, you expose yourself to injury -- and not so much from the jumps as the landings.

What's important is not to make the mistake of confusing these types of skill-sets with proper strength-training. While there may be some exercise benefit from jumping, you still require a sound, lower-body strength program that would at a minimum contain both squatting and hingeing movements.

Many people are always seeking an excuse not to lift weights -- and I'm not going to provide you that excuse!

The best way to increase power is by way of increased strength -- or at least by maintaining strength.

If you are at the stage of life where I am, for example, you're not going to increase anything anymore, and you must focus on just maintaining your foundation.

The best course of action is -- if you do have a keen interest in maintaining jumping ability well into advanced age -- you need at least:

2 x per week strength workouts and I further recommend 2 x week jumping workouts

You can do the jumping sessions the same days as you lift weights, just to maintain jumping ability. If you try to practice jumping much more than this recommendation, over time you will certainly suffer overuse injuries or other detrimental effects.