Winter is coming. Besides more videos of Russians doing triple backflips from the tops of five story buildings, what does this mean for you? It means cold, snow, slippery ice, and heavy coats instead of burning heat and tank tops.
But does this mean your skills have to regress since you can’t train? Of course not. There are plenty of ways to keep up your skills and make progress, even if you live someplace absurdly cold.
Keep training (even in the snow)
If you can, keep training as you normally would in summer, although you may have to put on a shirt. Snow adds a completely different dynamic to your usual training spots. You’ll have to be slower, more precise.
Of course, this is completely irrelevant if you live in Florida or Texas or Southern California. Lucky. Send me a postcard.
Why not gain some muscle and therefore power? Go on a caloric surplus (eat a lot), train a lot, and sleep a lot. Provided you don’t go too crazy with the food part, you will gain a decent amount of muscle and a hopefully minimal amount of fat. A session of LISS (low-intensity steady-state) cardio (jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.) after your strength work may keep fat gain to a minimum. This article is a good place to start learning about bulking and cutting.
The actual conditioning should be the usual parkour bodyweight standbys of pull-ups, muscle-ups, push-ups, handstand push-ups, tuck jumps, quadrupedal movement, etc. If you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend buying or building a pull-up bar, then pimping it out.
If you have the option, consider adding barbell lifts to your training, especially the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. Contrary to popular belief, weight training will not make you slow and heavy. There’s a great deal more to be said on the topic of weight training for parkour, but that will have to wait for a later article.
Rolls, precisions, smooth vaults, and flow can always use more practice. The great thing about that is you can find one place to work the technique, and then have an hour-long training session in that spot. You can find spots for most of these in sheltered or indoor areas, too.
When you’re done training, why not watch parkour videos? Both ‘showreels’ and tutorials will help. The more you see a certain movement, the more you will understand it and the better you’ll be able to perform it.
I am stealing this from Ryan Ford because he is absolutely right: the triumvirate of “prehab” and longevity in parkour is strength, technique, and mobility. We just talked about strength and technique, so let’s talk mobility.
Mobilitywod.com has a lot of excellent drills. Buy a large diameter PVC pipe and/or a lacrosse ball, and roll around on them. Don’t bother messing around with commercial foam rollers, they’re not hardcore enough. If you’re not hardcore enough for a PVC pipe, then wrap a towel around it The goal of the PVC pipe and lacrosse ball is to use the concentrated pressure to break down soft tissue restrictions, a process known as myofascial release. If you’ve not heard of this before, it may sound odd, but I can vouch that it works. The basic technique is to roll the pipe or ball back and forth hard across a muscle or joint for several minutes. It’s a deep tissue massage you give yourself. Obviously, if it causes you pain, you’re doing it wrong. It should hurt – in a good way.
My two favorite spots for foam rolling are the illiotibial band and the quadriceps, especially the rectus femoris muscle directly above the kneecap [Note: do not roll the kneecap itself]. Every major muscle group can use some action, though.
Learn new skills
Any sports or discipline that involves movement will have some good carryover into parkour. A small list of especially good ones:
- Martial arts
- Rock climbing
- Olympic lifting (if you have a good coach)
The list goes on. Again: just about anything that requires you to become stronger, better at moving, or more spatially aware is going to help your parkour skill.
Winter is the perfect time to take care of any persistent nagging injuries you have. Rest and rehabilitate those crunchy knees, clicky hips, poppy shoulders, and crackly ankles. The rehab process will depend on the nature of the injury, so do as much research as you can.
Hopefully these ideas will make your winter pass more quickly and productively. Have fun, and stay safe and warm.