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Conditioning for Obstacle Racing

Conditioning applies to the consistent, all-year-round application of sport-specific physical stress to create a body "conditioned" to the demands of the particular sport. Conditioning in sport training is used when trainers refer to exercises done in addition to the actual practice of the sport involved. For example, a traceuse who trains wall dips, squats and pull-ups is conditioning her body for doing parkour. It is a rare athlete today who trains for their sport solely by doing the sport itself, and most sports training involves some level of conditioning exercises.

Fitness is commonly used to describe a general state of well-being and health, but in sports it is more narrowly defined. The range of skills and functions required to be fit fall within ten physical dimensions:

  • Strength: a muscles ability to contract against the resistance of an external object or one's own body weight

  • Power: the absolute muscular contraction achieved in a dynamic explosion of movement such as a high jump

  • Agility: the possibility of executing power movements in rapidly changing directions

  • Balance: one's muscular control of the body postion, either statically (as in a handstand) or kinesthetically (as in a precision rail landing)

  • Flexibility: the ability to perform dynamic (kinetic) muscular movements of a limb through the fullest range of motion possible in relation to the joints

  • Cardiovascular Endurance: the heart's ability to circulate blood to muscles during strenuous physical activity

  • Coordination: economy of motion and physical efficiency of movement (flow)

  • Stamina: ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy

  • Speed: ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement

  • Accuracy: ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity

Resistance is required to build the strength and power required for obstacle racing. Multiple repetitions of a movement are required in order stimulate stamina and cardiovascular endurance. Movements that are based on actual parkour techniques using body-weight resistance will condition the athlete for doing actual obstacle racing as well as improve the fitness required for activities of daily life. There are five fundamental body weight movements that an athlete should use for conditioning:

  1. Squat

  2. Monkey Plant

  3. Wall Dip

  4. Pull Up

  5. Knees to Elbows

Once proficient at these fundamental movements, the athlete should progress to the five intermediate body weight conditioning movements:

  1. Cat Squat

  2. Cast-up Top Out

  3. Corner Bar Dip

  4. Cat Pull Up

  5. Toes to Bar

Finally, after mastering the intermediate movements, the athlete can progress to the five advanced body weight conditioning movements:

  1. Pistol

  2. Demon Dip

  3. Bar Dip

  4. Muscle Up

  5. Pull Over

The athlete should be able to comfortably do three sets of 10 reps each at a particular level before moving on to the next level of movement. Regularly training these sport specific movements will improve the athletes overall fitness level and condition them for the rigors of advanced sport performance.


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