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Parkour: Week 6 Day 1 (plus free Week 5 Day 3 recap!)

I seem to have a fairly consistent problem updating my blog on weekends. Hrm! Well, rather than the full monty, I'll give a quick review of Saturday's workout: Cat leaps, wall climbs, climb ups and top outs! Basically we reviewed Wednesday's workout with the cat leaps, then broke up and started really focusing on the proper technique to climb up and onto an obstacle at speed.

Travis made a comment about the final part, the top out, and how back when he was training there were no tutorials and it took him forever to figure out how to do it - but he was going to show us in a day. Sure enough, with about two minutes of instructions it clicked in and made total sense... but like so much in this training, I never would have arrived there.

So, you're on top of a wall/ledge/etc. with your hands over it. Getting up to the point where your waist is even with it and your arms are locked and you're about to come over is called the climb out - I've got that part down. Getting the rest of the way over and onto the box is the top out, and logically you want to swing one leg over, then the other, then off you go... but this is not the fastest!

Instead, you kick off the wall with your power leg, keeping it mostly straight and using a pendulum effect to bring both legs up towards an even plane with the top of the obstacle, then you tuck your legs in and forward and bring them onto the top. It makes no sense having it explained, but the first time you do it you just go "oh" and realize why it's the right way. It's awesome!

The highlight of the class was finishing it off with some wall runs and full climbs. Seriously, I can't imagine it getting much better than this - run straight at an eight foot high box. Plant one foot on it, jump up as high as you can onto the box so that you catch the top with your fingers and your upper body as high as possible. Then, using your fingers for grip and your upper body and the momentum from your jump, bring yourself up even with the top of the box, kick off with your legs and basically jump onto the top of the box. You just ran at and effectively jumped up onto an eight foot obstacle. Awesome.

Seriously. How cool is that?

Today's Warmup:

1 lap (4 blocks)

Partner up, then change off with 3 of the following four sets:

10 precision jumps vs Wall Sit
QM up and back vs Plank
10 tuck jumps vs L Sit
Broad Jump Burpees up and back vs V Sit

Rob partnered us up based on how we came back from the run and I ended up partnering with Cameron, who is tall and lanky and a pretty good sport. We decided to skip the QM one because my leg is still annoying me (pulled groin from a couple weeks ago if you recall, started to bug me a lot more on Sat).

So, first he did ten precision jumps while I did the wall sit. This is just holding yourself up against the wall sitting. It's hard. I did not enjoy. I did find the precision jumps were VERY easy though - weird. Not doing them for awhile and they were candy. Maybe because my quads weren't ripped up? Or maybe because I've done about 5000 different landings in the last few weeks and gotten my body used to it.

10 tuck jumps vs the L sit, I started with the tuck jumps. That was easy too! Yay. The L sit was a bit annoying - this is hanging from a bar with your body in an L shape (legs straight out), or sitting down with your legs straight in front of you. Very few people can do the latter - I need to be up on my fingertips to do it (short arms), and I can only hold it for a few seconds, so I did the hanging. Everyone else too.

Finally the broad jump burpees vs v-sit... ow! V-sit is sitting down with your legs up straight and your upper torso out straight forming a V (a very flat v) with just your butt on the ground. It is HARD. After about thirty seconds it feels like you are going to die (at least for me) with your whole core twitching and yelling at you. I don't like but it's obviously effective. I had to do this while Cameron did broad jumps into burpees up and back one length, then he had to hold it while I did it. The broad jump burpees at first were okay, but ended up being very hard by the last couple.

After everyone finished, Rob goes "Good, now we can continue the warmup!" Eep. Everyone was a little tripped out wondering what he had in store... he made us line up across the entire gym, then everyone get into "downward dog" position (basically, hands flat on the floor, feet flat on the floor, with your body upward in an arch). Then we all had to hold this position as the person at the end did QM underneath us all the entire length of the gym, then slide sideways until everyone had done it once. Actually was quite cool! I found it easier than normal QM because I let myself drag more, interesting to note this.

Warmup done! Rob and Cameron then dragged out a set of uneven (or parallel, since they are adjustable) bars in the middle of the room and Rob informed us we would be practicing underbars! There is a cool animation of this here:


Rob started by having us walk up and swing our legs through sideways instead of directly through as shown above. This is the type of underbar you use when you aren't sure what's on the other side of the wall - like a safety vault, it allows you to go "oh @%#" and arrest your momentum safely at the last moment if you realize there is a pit of crocodiles on the other side.

Gotta say it - I dug it. This was up there with the vaults, it made sense and clicked for me. As always, the initial slow motion ones were a bit tricky, but after a few walk throughs we started to speed things up. Then Rob got out this cool Primal Fitness patented training device that consisted of two poles with pieces of velcro on them and a string. We started with a solid four foot gap and had to make it through without hitting the string.

Candy, never had a problem. At least two of the other guys were solid as well, though some of the rest were balancing between good and bad, with a couple of the girls having issues with upper and lower body control (both of those girls are very fit looking so I don't think it's a core strength issue, I think it's just that they aren't as comfortable with the movement because they probably didn't run around jumping and playing for 20 years growing up).

Anyway, Rob slowly started to ratchet down the distance between the line and the bar. I was really enjoying it and starting to mess around a bit and at one point Rob laughed at me and said that I needed to run straight at the bars. Apparently I was doing something similar to a drunken stumble because I wanted to jump sideways instead of straight... it just didn't feel right to jump straight then throw out sideways.

Eventually Rob decided to mess with us and put the string about 18 inches below the bar, the string itself almost shoulder height and the bar just over head height. I was actually pretty confident I could do this, and while everyone else nailed the string I just waited for my turn... I approached perfect, cleared my legs with no problem at all, and as I was bringing myself through I realized I was lowering myself just a moment early - and sure enough, I just barely tapped the string with my ass (hah!) as I slid "through" to cries of "oh ALMOST!" haha.

After this they opened it back up again and had us try slower, working on form. On one of these attempts, as I was approaching it I realized my cadence was off and I tried to switch which leg I was jumping off of at the last second, but I had already told myself which way I was going to do it on... so my brain and body short circuited and I practically ran straight through the rope. Haha. A good lesson in why this stuff is hard slower sometimes, and how important cadence is.

I realized that whenever I approach I am deciding from ten feet away or so which foot I'm going to jump off of... and that's bad. I'm trying to match my cadence to my target instead of letting it happen and using the proper foot at the proper time. I'll need to work on this outside in the real world, though in the gym in a controlled situation it's okay to practice both ways.

A couple slow ones with the "safety" style and Rob told us if we felt comfortable, we could try a normal one, feet straight first. Of course I did it, and loved it. This way was so much easier and I was really excited about doing more, but I only got to do a couple this way before we finished up for the day.

Prior to stretching, we switched to some conditioning exercises for the last part of the class. First, Rob wanted us to hold a pullup top position for as long as possible - haha. No dice. My elbow is generally feeling okay but I'm keeping it in a brace. It's find for explosive stuff, but as soon as I keep force on it, it starts to hurt. I literally could not even pull myself up over the bar and hold it for more than a second before it would hurt so bad I needed to stop. Ah well, rest of the time it's been fine.

Next, we did ten "knees to elbows." Hang from a bar with your arms fully extended, then SLOWLY curl upward until your knees touch your elbows, then back down. No swinging momentum, just pure core strength. Ow. This was hard. I could not do ten of them without stopping a couple times.

Finally we did this weird exercise where we hung from a half pullup, pulled our body out in front of us so it was at an angle, then pumped our legs until our knees hit our chest then back out. Did five of these - it wasn't that hard but I probably wasn't doing them exactly right. It felt weird.

That was that! End of class, stretching, etc. Homework is to repeat a set of those final conditioning exercises tomorrow. Apparently next class on Wed is more underbars. Stoked about this, it didn't seem these would be that fun but they are awesome!

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