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Photo of Sam Parham from Parkour crew, Team 101 PARKOUR POSTERIOR
by
WillWayland

This was a short peice I had started writing for a parkour group that trains at the university of Teesside, the group kinda drifted apart and the peice never got put out.
So I thought you guys could benefit from it.


Image 1.0







As a strength and conditioning coach, I pay close heed to the conditioning programs of athletes looking for possible improvements, efficiency and possible imbalances. When I check out most parkour conditioning programs and conditioning practices I can't help but grimace at one main weakness, the posterior.


Many programs have a huge imbalance towards anterior dominant movements, be it quad work from all the jumping and running, the 1000 push ups everyday that "Biggunz69" on that bodybuilding forum recommended. A lot of trainees if they realize it or not tend to leave lower posterior chain work out of their conditioning sessions or only as an after though.

It's my opinion there seems to be a problem with people training only the muscles they can see in the mirror, either that or checking out your bum in the reflection might be considered slightly odd.

(see image 1.0)

The posterior chain includes your spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings, and calf musculature. If your performance goals include jumping higher and staying injury free, you simply can't put these muscle groups on the back burner. They're among the biggest and strongest you've got and when developed properly, they increase your capacity to perform scary-big squats, pulls, huge jumps and similar feats of gym-awesomeness.

The Bodyweight Dilemma
There are plenty of good weighted hamstring movements, such as straight leg deadlifts, good mornings, leg curls and pull throughs. But because parkour has a huge bodyweight culture, im gonna be nice and tell you how to introduce more bodyweight posterior chain work. Bodyweight programs are notorious for lacking lower body posterior chain exercises and here are recommendations on how we can fix this.

 

Glute Ham Raise
This one is simply the nastiest of all hamstring exercises! It'll give you a powerful set of hams and add a new understanding of torture.



Keeping the feet locked under a bar close to the floor and the knees on a mat or soft surface. Basically, keep the hips and abs squeezed tight as you lower yourself down with control, being careful not to bend forward. As you invariably collapse, have your hands meet the ground and push off to the point where you can pull yourself back up using your hamstrings.

GHR is great for building eccentric strength in the hamstrings, which is directly related to preventing injuries in the lower limbs. Not only will this get you strong but help you stay injury free.

The sets and rep scheme for the GHR depends on the strength of the lifter.

I find most athletes and lifters to be very bad at these as the hamstring strength of most people is downright terrible. For those who fall into this category, I'd have them do two to three sets of GHR as part of their warm-up for every workout of the week.

I suggest they strive to get 3 sets of 10 reps. This will mean for most that they'll be doing three sets to failure, failing around 3 to 5 reps each set. Over time this will improve.

Variation can be added with static holds and slow lowerings.

Kneeling Goodmornings



Start with your heels hooked into a poor mans GHR or have someone hold your ankles. Bend at the waist, as if doing a good morning, until your forehead touches the ground. Weight can be added via holding a plate or dumbbell. Generally 8-12 rep scheme for 3 sets would suffice, but with the addition of weight this can be lowered to whatever strength facet needs to be worked.


One legged Glute Bridges
To perform glute bridges, lie on the ground, knees bent and place one foot flat on the floor. Push your heel into the ground and lift your hips as high as possible. Hold this position for a second and return to the starting position.



Programming
A typical lower body day may look something like this now, for the sake of completeness ive added an upper body work out too.

LOWER BODY WORKOUT

GHR
3 reps x 5 sets for strength, add weight as needed.
Kneeling good mornings
8-12 reps x 3 sets
Pistols
6-10 reps x 3 sets
One legged Glute Raises
10-15 reps x 2 sets
Grip Work
timed heavy holds or body weight hangs off a bar

UPPER BODY
Body weight triceps extensions
6-10 reps x 3-4 sets
Wide out Push ups
8-12 reps x 3-4 sets
Close grip pull ups
6-10 reps x 3-4 sets
Fatman Rows
8-12 reps x 3-4 sets
Abdominal Circuit, changes every week

MONDAY Lower body
TUESDAY Light technical PK, working on single and short chain movements, route planning
WEDNESDAY Upper Body
THURSDAY Light movement, working on simple route with moderate difficulty
FRIDAY or SATURDAY or both Full movement, running over routes pushing yourself
SUNDAY OFF

Keep in mind this is posterior work for bodyweight nuts, which a lot of traceurs are. “Only one quad movement exercise!” I hear you cry , this is because traceurs do so much running and jumping that any additional quad work would cause excessive fatigue, all conditioning sessions should be 100% effort.

There are other bodyweight hamstring exercises but these are in my opinion the best bang for buck ones, add variation with back extensions and reverse leg raises.

Also if you have access to a gym or weights then a much larger variety of posterior work is available to you and task of keeping your posterior healthy is an easier task.

Conclusion
So If you're all about sports performance, developing the posterior chain is priority one.

Strong, explosive glutes and hams in particular, are the engines that drive elite-level performance in jumping, sprinting, throwing, kicking, and striking skills.

It was Charles Polquin who recommended 2 x daily hamstring training for greater benefits. Just don’t over do it

 

EDIT BY ANDI:
Why people should realize how important this is for parkour participants: when you perform for example a precision jump, the takeoff comes more from your quads, but the landing phase, when you stretch out your feet to reach for the edge, and then you touch the edge, to pull you towards it, is purely hamstring work, and to train your hamstring well can make you land precisions that you would normally fall back after putting your feet on the edge. try it out!

 
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