Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Video

Well it's been a while since PINWC was released and although I did say I was planning on waiting a year or so before releasing another video... I feel the time is right to start work on another one.

The main reason I plan to begin filming another sampler is that there are currently many temporary obstacles in my area, ones that will disappear in the near future so I may lose the chance to capture some movements in these areas if I don't do it soon.

Another reason to get it done now is that I feel 2007 is going to be a very progressive year and I would like to make a fresh start on training without the urge to make a video.

Filming will begin tomorrow and will continue through to Sunday, with perhaps another couple of weekends to wrap up bits and bobs. Add to that editing and the possibility of bad weather and you're looking at an early/mid January ETA.

Check back soon for updates.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Just a short entry to let everyone know what I'm going to be working on...

-Scaffolding and Trees
I've been neglecting this a little recently so I'm planning on focusing my efforts on trees and scaffolding more during my training sessions. I'm going to be focusing on generating momentum for laches and building up my sustained grip strength and shoulders for more controlled and bigger body drops.
Besides using my arms I want to build up confidence in my balance in trees just using my feet... right now I feel more comfortable landing on a rail than I do a branch, with my feet - which is odd.

These need some more work, I'm going to be aiming to reduce the amount of space needed for me to get through gaps in rails, walls, branches etc. I also need to work on my exiting technique for this movement as I'm currently only completely comfortable with ones where I can place my feet on the ground when I get my lower body through. Underbars with a drop greater than my height is not something I've spent much time practicing.

I've recently been convinced of the benefits of handstands. An excellent exercise in balance, coordination and strength, I've really not spent any great deal of time trying to improve them. They're also fun, so I'll be spending 10-15 minutes per day upside down battling against gravity (or trying to develop a healthy relationship with it perhaps).
Interestingly, without ever focusing on the technique itself, it seems I've built up the necessary muscles to be able to go from L-sit to tucked planche to a handstand... the handstand is wobbly and I do fall over a lot but it's good to know the power is there. A month from now I want reasonable control over a 10 second stationary handstand from tucked planche.

-Planche en force
Although I'm now quite happy banging these out with a 10kg weighted vest, I've never paid any attention to repetitions. I'm going to work on building up to being able to do 10 slow, weighted, muscle-ups and 20 unweighted. Wish me luck!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Current Training Regime

After an intense 3 month period of focused strength training, I'm sticking to the following regime for a while - not to develop my strength but to maintain it at its current level whilst I concentrate on progressing technically.

Monday - Upper Body:

-4 x 25 pushups with hands spread wide to focus on chest
-4 x 25 pushups with hands touching to focus on triceps
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-4 x 15 crunches on the '6 second abs' machine
-4 x 10 second maximum contraction on '6 second abs' machine

-10 x chinups with hands as wide as possible
-10 x chinups with hands quite wide
-10 x chinups with hands quite close
-10 x chinups with hands touching
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-Balance exercises and a few basic drills

Tuesday - Lower Body:

-4 x 25 calf raises
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-4 x 15 pistols on each leg (30 per set)
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-100 8-9ft precisions

-Balance exercises and a few basic drills

Wednesday - Back and Abs:

-10 pullups with hands as wide as possible
-10 pullups with hands quite wide
-10 pullups with hands quite close
-10 pullups with hands touching
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-4 x 26 alternate leg raises on the 'Abdo Board'

-4 x 30 second 'V' sits to 10 second tucked planche.

-Balance exercises and a few basic drills

Thursday: Hell Night

-This varies week to week but it's an entire body workout and a very demanding cardio session. See the 'Hell Night' entry below for more details.

Friday: Lower Body:

-4 x 25 calf raises
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-4 x 15 pistols on each leg (30 per set)
^All done using 10kg weighted vest.

-100 8-9ft precisions

-Balance exercises and a few basic drills

Saturday and Sunday: Parkour

I avoid strength training on these two days and focus entirely on technical movements. I practice all the basics in different combinations at different speeds and emphasis is placed on speed and accuracy of movement.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hell Night

It's now almost week 7 of Hell Night and with many people asking me to give them more details about it, I've finally sat down with the hope of explaining what we do every Thursday. Cameras are frowned upon at Hell Night as you can't train your hardest when you stop to take photos, so there is not one photo of one of these sessions available... I've had to add photos from my collection to help explain what we are doing.

We start the night at 7pm with a simple loosening up period just so we don't go into the first phase cold. Immediately after that we head to a nearby rugby field and run laps around it for a while until our blood's pumping and core temperature has raised...
We then walk another lap of the field whilst holding our arms out the sides, above us, and stretching them thoroughly.

Our first physical activity of the night is on the rugby posts - we climb up one side just using our arms, swing across the top, and climb down the other side only using our legs to generate momentum on the swing across the top.

A jog to the nearby war memorial and we spend 10-15 minutes here stretching thoroughly and preparing ourselves for the night to come. After everyone is ready and feeling loose, we walk to the other side of the university by the front gates. It's at this point we all split up and go our seperate ways, with the goal of getting back to the memorial in the quietest way possible. The emphasis is on silent movements and controlled muscle contractions especially on climbups, deep landings and crawling where necessary. Everything is controlled and speed is the least important part of this exercise. It usually takes everyone 15 minutes to get back to the start if they're really focusing on moving with minimal sound.

As soon as we're all back together the main phase of the night begins and everyone knows the easy parts are now finished. Everything from this point on is going to hurt.

This main phase changes every week and gets harder and harder as the weeks go on. I'll explain what week 6 consisted of...

-The group waits in the pushup position as each of us in turn jump up to a branch of a tree and do 10 pullups, grabbing a higher branch, lowering ourselves down to the bottom branch again slowly, and repeat until we've each done 10. Once a person completes this pullup challenge, they wait for the others once again in the pushup position.

-When everyone is finished, we're all in the pushup position and whilst we're down there, we do 25 pushups.

-A quick jog around the corner and we climb up onto a roof with a slight overhang, 10 climbups here followed by a 1 minute hang straight after the last climbup. If you finish early, you wait in the pushup position for the rest of the group regardless of how long it takes for them to do 10 climbups and hang for a total of 60 seconds. The burn on this exercise is great!

-As soon as we're all done there, we move onto some parallel bike rails and do 1 dip, followed by 1 stomach crunch and repeat 10 times. By this point after the pushups, climbups and pullups, this can be quite testing on the triceps and chest...

-Straight from there onto two parallel blue rails in an L shape. We put our hands on one side and our feet on the other, and shimmy along until we reach the corner, from here we need to stretch out to the corner with our feet whilst keeping our hand in position until we end up on the other straight. Another shimmy uphill takes us to the end and we do this entire obstacle twice in a row without rest.

-Next up is a climb up a vertical lamp post to the top, touch the light and climb back down. This one proves particularly hard when it's raining!

-From there, onto a flat wall with a sharp edge, and we shimmy across the top of that to the other end, only 20ft or so. We climb down a drainpipe to the ground and wait in the pushup position for the others to catch up.

-Next up, we all start at the bottom of a flight of steep stairs on all fours, and climb up them backwards, when we reach the top we climb all the way back down again head first. If that wasn't enough fun, we climb all the way to the top once more, and all the way back down - again.

-Carrying exercises now, where we lift a partner on to our shoulders and run 200m as fast as we can, then we swap around and the other person does 200m with their partner on their shoulders.

-This next exercise is similar to the blue rail obstacle but this one is a lot longer. It's roughly 100m and the gap between your feet and hands gets bigger and bigger as you can see below. This is one hell of a great forearm workout! When you get near the end, no one is tall enough to reach with both hands and feet so we drop into the arm jump position and shimmy to the end that way.

-We wait in the pushup position until everyone is finished that then immediately crawl the length of those black rails to the other end.

-Back muscles and shoulders are now put to the test again when we climb horizontally along a series of 12 window ledges without touching the floor, takes about 4-5 minutes.

-Straight after it's muscle up time! We do a muscle up on a FAT bar (A) which is sometimes tough after the onslaught before, but once we've muscled up, we climb onto the bar and climb down a metal staircase underneath the stairs just using our arms (B).

-Under the stairs we do more pushups, this time we take 10 seconds to do one pushup and pause halfway for a while, at the bottom we pause again, lean to our left hand, lean to our right, back to the centre and push back to the top, taking 10 seconds to get to the top. This is repeated for 5-8 minutes or so until our arms are shaking and we can taste our dinner again.... yum.

-Then we hang from the metal staircase and L sit for 20 seconds.

-Possibly the toughest exercise of the night now, it's 1 climbup on the bottom wall below, shimmy across to the other side of it at waist height, climb down into the arm jump position, climb up again, then climb down and repeat x 5. In total it's 10 flat wall climbups, with waist shimmying in between and after all the previous exercises, you really feel this one in the arms.

Next up we climb up some rails covering a window onto the edge of a roof and shimmy under some barbed wire then climb down another window ledge at the other end of the roof. On the photo below, the barbed wire had yet to be added to the roof.

-Time to crawl again... after climbing up the outside of the stair case (or the inside if you have to), we crawl the length of the roof... near the other end there's some dips to do, so we do 10 whilst we're up there then crawl down an identical staircase on the other side of the building head first.

...and that's 1 lap, we then get a quick drink and run back to the start by the tree and begin the course again. We don't rest in between each exercise as we're waiting in the pushup position for people to finish so it really is a gruelling session of constant exercise. We usually only get through 3 laps of the course due to that taking around 4 hours to complete.

Although it was literally hell to begin with, the benefits of such harsh training is evident, everyone who regularly attends is now becoming comfortable with all of the above to a certain extent which is why I'm making it harder each and every week so we're always stepping out of our comfort zones.

Hell Night has helped us to become so much stronger and our stamina levels have shot up drastically. Everyone agrees that their Parkour has benefited from it immensely.
After the 4th or 5th week of Hell Night, my usual weekly training which I used to find tough, was not even causing me to break a sweat so it just shows how effective this kind of training is for your body.

The other benefit of this type of training is a mental one, since Winter is closing in, the nights have been very cold and dark and 3 of the weeks saw it raining for the duration of the session. You need to be prepared for this mentally and just accept that you are going to be pushing yourself to the limits regardless of the weather conditions.

I highly recommend starting your own Hell Night in your area... meet up once per week with some friends with the goal of completely breaking yourselves down and tiring yourselves out until you fail to function properly. Repeat this week after week and I promise it will change your body completely and give you so much more power and confidence in your Parkour.

Early in the new year I'll post the latest version of what we're doing with proper photos of one of the nights... we'll probably be using weighted vests for the exercises by then.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Past, Present and Future

After following Jin's advice, I've decided to create a blog to let everyone know what I'm up to, how my training is going and what my current thoughts and goals are. It will also be a good place for me to record my progress and look back on in time to come.

Since this is my first entry to the blog I'll bring you all up to speed with a fairly lengthy entry...

A few months ago after almost 3 years of training in Parkour I hit a plateux and noticed a significant invisible wall that I seemed to run in to and couldn't get past. My technical ability had come across a barrier and I realised that if I were to further progress technically, I had to first change the very thing that was limiting me - my body.

I had watched some fairly inspirational videos that made me want to just go out and try all this new stuff but knowing there was a long-term progression to think about, I pushed all that aside and decided to focus on getting stronger.

Over the past three months I've transformed my body and seriously pushed the envelope in terms of muscular endurance, power, speed and stamina. It was difficult to almost completely stop technical training (with the exception of balance and drilling the basics) and dedicate so much time to physical development but it has been worth it and the gains are now obvious.

I'm at a stage where I feel very confident in my self and I'm now easing back into the technical side of the discipline. I don't doubt there will be a transition period where I'll need to refresh my memory in some of the finer details of technical movements but I know this will be a quick process and that I'll surpass my old stale state very quickly with the added strength.

One major contributor to the maintenance of my condition is 'Hell Night' - a weekly session that I started when I realised that there were more traceurs in Leicester who really wanted to knuckle down and put their bodies through hell to achieve a higher level in Parkour. We meet up every Thursday night at 7pm and train for about 4 hours in non-stop parkour-orientated conditioning and isometric resistance work. It's also very mentally challenging due to the winter months rolling in, it's been very wet, cold and damp but this only adds to its appeal and difficulty so there's never any complaints. Come snow, hail, wind and rain, we will be out in force facing the elements in a battle to progress. Now only six weeks old, the course is becoming harder each week with less rest in between each set, a faster pace and more reps thrown into the exercises.

To track our progress I'm updating a spreadsheet every week with a list of everyone who turns up, how many laps of the course we do, what specific exercises we concentrate on and any other details such as warm-ups, dates and notes, it will be very interesting to look back on in six months time to see how much it has helped us.

I'll cut off there and give your eyes a rest, check back here soon for updates including:
-My current weekly training regime
-More details on the specifics of Hell Night
-What I'm focusing on to push my technical ability

Until then; train hard, eat well and rest.