Indoor Parkour Training (continued...)
The most obvious setup would be the vaulting horse or padding stacks for vault training. Simple and effective, these two arrangements are adjustable for a variety of possible combinations. They also offer the benefit of being more forgiving during early training, as their surfaces are much softer than the common concrete wall. An important aspect to consider is the stability of the objects on whatever surface you choose, as an unchecked pad stack that topples mid-vault can lead to some pretty severe injuries. Though the trapezoidal pads shown in the images are excellent, they are in no way necessary, as any decent-sized stack of folding pads can be used to great effect. Possible combinations would be long monkey vaults between two stacks, vaults over gaps between two stacks, or vaults to precisions where the height of one or both obstacles can be adjusted to a number of different levels.
A slightly less obvious use of common apparatus is the adaptation of the uneven or parallel bars for training the underbar. You can vary the height of the railings, and a stack of folding pads under the chosen horizontal beam gives an easily-measurable goal for the movement that reduces the risk of bad technique immensely. Another option would be to use athletic or duct-tape to fashion a horizontal “railing” in the manner of the “underduct” training method I described in the underbar article (CFJ issue 50). This creates a highly forgivable “bar” for training that breaks free before it can cause injury. If you use parallel bars for working on your underbar technique, it is usually best to completely remove one of the bars before you begin. If you choose to do so, make sure it’s within the rules of the facility, and make sure to turn the remaining railing toward the inside of the base to increase stability as much as possible.
Another multipurpose piece of equipment is the balance beam. Vaults and precisions are easily worked on this apparatus, although the no-shoes policy of most gymnastics facilities can teach painful lessons on proper landing technique. This is hardly a downside, as barefoot training highlights the weaknesses in a foundational movement before they can become hazardous over the long haul. Most gymnastics facilities have beams in a variety of heights, ranging from floor- level folding “balance pads” that eliminate nearly all risk to competition-height beams that require confidence and precision in technique. Through the progression from one end of the spectrum to the other, you will realize profound benefits in balance, coordination, agility, accuracy, power, and confidence that make this essential training for any dedicated athlete.
The hardest movement to train in a gym setting is the cat leap, as any arrangement of stacked padding is too unstable to be of much use. The best option that we’ve found is the combination of a large crash mat, some folding pads, and the parallel bars. The large crash mat is wedged between the parallel bar, which is placed as close to the wall as possible. Behind this you will wedge the folding pads to fill the gap caused by the parallel bar base to create a solid vertical surface for landing. It is also a good idea to pad the base of the parallel bars as any misstep could lead to a bad landing on heavy steel plates. This setup offers the ability to train the basic movement pattern, though the railing makes the landing and top-out slightly easier. What’s really fun about this setup is the ability to launch from distances impossible in the outdoors to catch a dynamic cat leap and instantly pop up and over the railing into another movement.
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