Once a parkour athlete has mastered basic bodyweight exercises such as squats, pull ups, and push ups, it is time to start considering the addition of weightlifting to your workouts. In many ways, weightlifting is the antithesis of parkour. Weightlifting requires special equipment, lacks creativity, and is mostly limited to specialized gyms. However, there is no denying the fact that weightlifting can increase strength and power like nothing else. When done right, weightlifting is a powerful supplement to your parkour and plyometric training; it will increase your jumps, fortify your landings, and boost your climbing to new heights.
Some people are afraid to get into weight training because they think it will make them slow, heavy, and inflexible. On the contrary, olympic lifters are some of the most explosive, mobile, and fastest athletes on the planet. If you focus on the correct exercises, weights will enhance your athletic ability. As an athlete, you are generally wasting your time if you do isolation exercises (exercises that isolate a single muscle) like biceps curls, leg extensions, and chest flies. Stick to the compound exercises (exercises that work many muscle groups together) you see below and reap the benefits that weightlifting can offer. Looking for even more on the subject? Check out my book, Parkour Strength Training.
The overhead press is a fantastic exercise for developing upper body strength. Even more functional than the bench press, the overhead press is great sport-specific training for most athletes and also translates to better strength and stability in positions like handstands and vaults. The press can later progress to more explosive movements like the push press and push jerk.
#4 Weighted Dip
Weighted dips are the one of the most useful pushing exercises for developing the strength needed for climb ups, vaults, and other pushing movements in Parkour. Combined with weighted pull ups, this is one of the fastest ways to develop good climb ups and explosive pushing power.
#3 Weighted Pull-up
Weighted pull ups are the one of the most useful pulling exercises for developing the strength needed for climb ups, laches, cat leaps, and other climbing movements in Parkour. Combined with weighted dips, this is one of the fastest ways to develop good climb ups and explosive pulling power.
#2 Back Squat
Back squats are the most common of all weighted squat variations because they are the easiest to learn and do. Back squats will help strengthen your legs to jump farther, run faster, and have safer landings. It should be noted that parkour athletes will benefit most from squatting just past parallel. Since many parkour movements and landings go through a full range of motion squat, it makes sense to develop strength in these positions as well.
The deadlift is an absolute must do for any serious athlete in any sport. Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. For parkour specifically, deadlifts will help increase your jump and prepare you to better handle landing impacts.
If you are looking for more great weightlifting exercises, check out this playlist for ideas:
Looking for even more on the subject? Check out my book, Parkour Strength Training.