It seems that there is a quite healthy debate regarding whether or not strength training is useful for the parkour practitioner. As someone with a strength training background, I’m probably biased, but if you won’t believe me, just check my math. ((Yes, I know, you were told there would be no math.)) First, let me unequivocally state that doing precision jumps is the best way to learn to do precisions. That is true for any parkour movement. End of story.
However, if I start doing heavy deadlifts and squats, my leg strength and hip flexibility are going to increase exponentially. By increasing the load on the muscle, you’re increasing your potential power output. Parkour is all about Power. Whether it is exploding out of a kong, exploding up a wall or even just ticking off a wall, you need to use those fast-twitch (power) muscles. Let me break it down for you (here comes the math):
P(ower) = W(ork)/T(ime). In this formula W= F(orce) x D(istance)
The formula for force is F= M(ass) x A(cceleration)
So, we can break down a traceur’s power output with this: P= ((mass x acceleration) x distance)/time
In order to increase P you need to increase the top number (the numerator) and/or decrease the bottom number (the denominator). That means the traceur needs to either a) increase the amount of force (either by increasing the mass or speed of the acceleration of the movement); b) increase the distance of the movement; or c) decrease the amount of time it takes to perform the movement.
Now, this intrinsically makes sense. You need more power to jump farther distances, more power to speed up the movement as well as increased power to move a heavier mass. I propose that to truly generate the most amount of power, you should do A, B AND C. But, by starting with the (m) variable of this equation, you’re providing the groundwork to increase (d), (a) or decrease (t).
If you give me two traceurs of equal ability and I put one on a regimen of varied workouts using heavy weight at high intensity, and the other JUST practices the parkour movements, I would be willing to bet that the one who is weight training increases in ability much quicker. Additionally, strength training has been proven to increase bone density. Having thicker bones will decrease the risk of injury and help with the hard landings and take-offs prevalent in parkour.