Have you heard the term “parcours”?
It sounds a lot like parkour for a reason. It is the French word for “course” and is undoubtedly the root word for the discipline, as we know it today. You might be familiar with it from the term “parcours du combattant” which is the French military obstacle-training regimen. Or perhaps, you’ve run across a “parcours de santé”, which are the fitness trails made out of wood and metal that you can find in some suburban parks.
Bottom line, for our purposes, a parcours is an obstacle course.
And, if you’re looking to advance your parkour conditioning, you should explore how to set one up as they can give you a wicked cardiovascular and metabolic burn.
I recently attended Revolution Parkour’s Friday evening parcours session, and found it to be an awesome way to end the workweek. Let me try to recount how they set it up, so that you can get a feel for creating your own.
First of all, 3 parcours runs were established that entailed approximately 5 distinct movement challenges.* For instance, one course consisted of a wall run, a height drop, a rope net traverse, a 10-foot bouldering climb, and another height drop. Another course began with a cat leap, to a climb-up, a height drop, vault, and then finished with a precision jump.
The commonality is that there was an equal mix of vertical and horizontal motion, as well as an attempt to hit upon a variety of different parkour skills.
Once the route for each parcours was determined, the participants were split into small groups and were tasked with running through a single course as many times as they could during a designated time period. I believe each interval was 10 minutes, but I could be wrong.
Run, climb, drop, vault, traverse, jump. Loop back through the course.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Over and over again for 10 minutes, this became exhausting pretty quickly. I was able to complete about 7 rounds for each course, and recall that the instructor, Matt, said his elite students could do 10 to 11 runs through.
Once the timer buzzed, we regrouped and rested for a few minutes. Then the whole process started over, twice more through the other runs.
The parcours training session lasted about an hour, including a group warm-up and cool-down. The combination of drilling skills, non-stop movement, and the heavy vertical component resulted in a phenomenally hard workout.
You have probably heard how CrossFit workouts can leave their participants in a puddle of sweat on the floor afterwards?
Well, running a dedicated parcours session pretty much achieves the same thing.
Plus, you get to have fun while doing it!
Whether you are a private coach, run your own gym, or are just getting started in parkour, you should definitely add some parcours-type intervals to your training.
*When you design your own parcours, feel free to take liberty with however many movements/challenges you incorporate. Try a course made out of 3 different movements versus one with 10 skills. The key thing is that you loop back through it, over and over again.