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Return of Demon's Drills - The Gauntlet
Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Demon's Drill's returns this month with a great article on training and conditioning for Parkour and Freerunning. "Read more" to learn about The Gauntlet The Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet

Credit Where Credit is Due

First of all, I would like to credit Blane of Team Traceur for the initial idea and inspiration to develop the following training method. Back in November of 2006, Blane unveiled the information of the “Hell Night” he had developed in his hometown of Leicester. Blane’s Hell Night consists of many conditioning exercises designed to interact with the surrounding environment.

Further Development

I immediately saw the beneficial and enriching potential of the concept and designed a similar course at my university. Over the past few months, I have refined the course and its concepts with several other local traceurs.

Further developing Blane’s idea, I first chose what I thought was a more fitting name. The Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet or Gauntlet for short.

A modern use of the word gauntlet is to describe a long and trying course involving a series of difficult tasks that are both mentally and physically taxing. Sounds a little bit like parkour, right? One of the greatest things about parkour is the unique perspective of which a traceur views the environment. By using this same concept, any traceur can develop a circuit of exercises that utilize every day obstacles and apparatuses found in our natural and man made environments.

The Need for More Conditioning in Parkour

Most traceurs do not condition and prepare their bodies properly to withstand the great impacts and forces that are accumulated from doing parkour. While Gauntlets are not a solution on its own to solving this problem, they are a good supplemental training method that can be done anywhere and at any time. I have found Gauntlet training to be highly beneficial and enriching to my own personal parkour training. Not only is it empowering to design your own course to condition your body using walls, rails, trees, and more, but many of the exercises performed in Gauntlets also specifically enrich parkour skills. I can think of specific instances in my own Gauntlets where I have developed increased strength, endurance, creativity, technique, flexibility, and more. Because of these reasons, I believe that every serious traceur should design and engage in a 2-4 hour Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet once a week.

Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet Q&A

Q: So what exactly is a Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet anyway?

A: A Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet, or Gauntlet for short is a conditioning method to improve your parkour fitness. Gauntlets are planned courses through the environment that convert walls, parking lots, rails, trees, and other obstacles into exercise apparatuses. Gauntlets involve many different challenges and exercises done in a sequential and continuous manner until the predefined course is complete. Ideally, Gauntlets should be done with others so that you can push each other through as best you can. The typical Gauntlet is a mentally and physically grueling course that lasts around two hours. During this time, there should be no screwing around, no lagging, and no distractions in general. Gauntlets are for mental and physical training and should be done with great focus and motivation. Gauntlets should be done at least once a week and every week to supplement other strength and conditioning training. Each week, the Gauntlet should be tweaked and the difficulty increased. This will prevent boredom and promote continual improvement.

Q: Why should I do a Gauntlet? Powered by Joomla! Generated: 18 April, 2008, 14:10

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A: Gauntlets should be done for many reasons. You must get in good shape for parkour! This is an excellent way to do it because it is fun, unique, dynamic, creative, challenging, and more. It is a great way to improve your physical fitness as well as mental toughness. It builds a sense of teamwork when you push through and accomplish the Gauntlet with others. Gauntlets are a lot like parkour, they adapt exercises and conditioning methods to the environment at hand. As a result, parkour skills such as balance, power, coordination, creativity, and problem solving will be increased.

Q: What does a Gauntlet consist of?

A: Beginning with a warm up, gauntlets go on to utilize bodyweight exercises such as push ups, dips, sit-ups, pull-ups, muscle ups, static holds, and pistols. Gauntlets also include difficult parkour like movements such as shimmying, jumping, stemming, traversing, swinging, climbing, quadrupedal movement, and more. These movements are not only physically challenging, they also develop balance, strength, endurance, and coordination specific to parkour. In addition, Gauntlets may include other short challenges and transitions designed to practice aspects of parkour such as problem solving, creativity, and stealth.

Q: Where should I do my Gauntlet?

A: First of all, you want to find a location with a variety of obstacles. To fully maximize a diverse and well rounded Gauntlet, the location will also need to be large. Some of the most vital Gauntlet material to look for includes handicap ramps, trees, a variety of walls and ledges, and stair cases. Some good places to start looking are parks, universities, schools, and parking garages. Once you have found a location, your Gauntlet is only limited by your ambition and creativity to use your surroundings.

Q: What conditioning exercises should be included in my Gauntlet?

A: Be sure to start with an easy Gauntlet so that you can increase its difficulty over time. Address the weaknesses of yourself and your group and design your Gauntlet accordingly. Legs are generally the most neglected body part in parkour so be sure to include a lot to condition them! The best Gauntlets are designed to have no wasted time. Design your Gauntlet so that you are always on the move or doing stationary bodyweight exercises. If you are doing a Gauntlet with a group, design it so that people must do an exercise while waiting for everyone to finish. This increases the teamwork aspect as everyone has further motivation not to lag behind or let others lag behind. See the bottom of this article for ideas on exercises to include in your Gauntlet.

See the lists following the Q&A to view some of the potential exercises to include in your Gauntlet. However, don’t be limited by what you see on the list. Strive to be creative and adaptive to the environment you are in.

Q: What else should be included in my Gauntlet?

A: Anything you want! Be creative and make your Gauntlet unique to the environment you are in. Throw in a couple unique challenges like traversing a particularly tricky area of obstacles, climbing to the top of a lamp post, moving through an area as quietly as possible, or getting through a small but unique set up as fast as possible. The possibilities to devise challenges like these are endless and they will help develop problem solving, creativity, and more, important skills to have in parkour. Challenges are important parts of Gauntlets because they can provide a moment of rest to relieve fatigue and lighten the mood after a particularly physically demanding section of the Gauntlet.

Q: Awesome…, so what now?

A: Go out and design a Gauntlet at your local university, park, or something else. Gather some traceurs together to go through and refine and revise it. Once you have a good Gauntlet, set up a weekly day and time so that everyone can get together to do the Gauntlet. No excuses, get out there and be productive!

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Lists of Potential Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet Exercises

Below are four lists of different types of exercises you can include in a Gauntlet. However, there are infinite possibilities when designing a Gauntlet, so do not limit yourself to what is listed below. Exercises in italic are exercises that I have found to be particularly beneficial and easy to include.

Stationary bodyweight exercises without obstacle interaction

Push ups Sit ups Planks (front, side) L-sits Planche progressions Pistols Squats Burpees Handstand walks/holds/push ups

Stationary bodyweight exercises with obstacle interaction

Kipping pull ups Muscle ups Wall climb ups Dips Static hang Normal L-sit Front lever progressions Powered by Joomla! Generated: 18 April, 2008, 14:10

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Dynamic movements without obstacle interaction

Quadrupedal movement Standard Max speed gallop Crawling push ups Bear crawl Crab walk Straight arm (weight on hands) leg drag crawl Bent arm (weight on elbows) leg drag crawl Duck walk Walking lunges Walking pistols Broad jumps Broad jump burpees Sprints and jogs Carries

Dynamic movements with obstacle interaction

Waist shimmy Hang shimmy Horizontal stemming Vertical stemming Cat balancing Rail balancing Quadrupedal movement up/down stairs Squat hops down stairs Swinging Powered by Joomla! Generated: 18 April, 2008, 14:10

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Playground equipment Goal posts Scaffolding Beams Tree moving Climbing Swinging Traversing Traversing Walls Rocks Ledges Climbing Rocks Walls Buildings Staircases Trees Poles and posts

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The Gauntlet at the University of Colorado at Boulder

This is Just an Example

Gauntlets should be thought of as works in progress. There is always room to improve your Gauntlet. No Gauntlet is perfectly balanced or contains everything that should be in a Gauntlet. Gauntlets are shaped and formed by the environment they are in and the imagination and experiences of the people who design them. Always strive to increase the difficulty of your Gauntlet over time and refresh its format to keep it interesting and exciting.

The following example is a sample from one week’s Gauntlet at CU Boulder. This Gauntlet took approximately two hours to complete.

Stage One

We meet at stage one of the Gauntlet and proceed to warm up with jogging, dynamic stretching, broad jump burpees, and QM.

Once we are warmed up, we begin stage one of the Gauntlet. We begin by getting on top of the wall and duck walking (1) to the corner where we stop to do 10 dips (2). We then waist shimmy the next portion of the wall (4). Next, we do a pistol walk (5). For the last portion of the wall, we do a hang shimmy (6).

Once we get to the end of the hang shimmy portion (6), we step down and cat balance along the wall (7). Upon reaching the end of the wall, we hop down and horizontally stem between the rail and wall (8).

At the end of the rail, we hop down and jog over to the nearby handicap ramp. We proceed to do broad jump burpees up the incline (9) and standard QM along the top part of the ramp and then down the stairs (10). Near the base of the stairs, we proceed to do 20 push ups (11) and 20 sit ups (12). We then go back to the previously used walls and do 5 wall climb ups (13) followed by a 30 sec. wall hang (14).

This completes 1 round of stage 1. We perform a total of 3 rounds at stage 1. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 18 April, 2008, 14:10

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Stage Two

We then jog over to this little puzzle (15) awaits us. One by one, each person must start in a hang position on the wall, get through the black metal hoop, and end up hanging on the other side of the hoop. Then, you must do the same thing in reverse, ending up where you started. This must be completed without touching the ground.

Next, we sprint 100m (16) over to the second challenge (17) in between stages. Here, everyone must climb to the top of the lamp post and then climb back down. Optionally, 2 people may race since there are multiple lamp posts.

After the post climb, we make the short walk over to the start of stage two. Stage two begins with a long traverse (18). You must traverse three portions of the wall and the three pillars that separate them. If your feet touch the ground, you need to rest, or you fall off, you must start again at the point you left off at. The walls are made of stones that stick out anywhere from an inch to not at all. As the picture suggests, many rock climbers train here, leaving behind chalk covered holds.

Once the traverse is complete, you must do QM around the corner (19) to the precision jump circuit (20). The precision jump circuit consists of seven jumps. The wall on the left to the square, the square to the other side of the square, the square to them bench, the 180 hop from bench to bench, the bench to the square, the square to the other side of the square, and finally, the square to the wall that you started on. This is one circuit. The goal is to complete five perfect circuits. A perfect circuit means no wasted steps, hops, or jumps and no falling or slipping off the targets. A perfect circuit emphasizes control, technique, speed, and precision.

Once five perfect circuits have been completed, we make a short sprint over to this interesting overhang in which we complete an arms only hanging shimmy from one side to the other (21).

Next, we do walking lunges (22) for 30 m to a large staircase. We proceed to do two rounds of backwards QM up the two flights of stairs (23) and two rounds of squat hops back down (24). To finish off this area, we cat balance up the side of the stair case (25).

Stage Three

Now that stage two has been completed, we jog about 400 m (26) over to a basketball hoop. Here, you must climb up, do either 5 muscle ups or 25 kipping pull ups, and then climb down (27). While waiting for everyone to finish, you must hold yourself in a front plank position. We then jog another 400 m (28) over to the beginning of stage three. Powered by Joomla! Generated: 18 April, 2008, 14:10

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Once at stage three, we begin at another staircase. We start by doing a hang shimmy/dynos up the multi level side of the wall (29). Once at the top, we climb up and over the wall and do squat hops down the stairs (30). Upon reaching the bottom, we turn around at cat balance up the stair rail to the top (31). We then do forwards QM down the stairs (32) immediately followed by backwards QM back up the stairs (33). We then walk down to the bottom of the stairs and do 5 pistols each leg (34) and 5 wall climb ups (35). This completes one round of stage three. We do three rounds total at stage three.

Stage Four

Stage four begins at the top of the stairs. What we are at is a large parking garage that is about 50 m by 75 m with walls and other obstacles encircling the entire garage. Unlike the other stages, stage four is a little less rigid in its movements. The challenge of stage four is to traverse the entire perimeter of the parking garage without touching the ground. We pretend that the ground is lava. In addition, you can’t touch the vegetation. We pretend that the vegetation is like an electric fence. In addition to simply traversing the car park with these two simple guidelines, we also focus on being as silent and stealth as possible.

With these three simple “rules” we set off around the obstacle/challenge rich parking garage. We are forced to use QM underneath tree branches, wall climbs, precision jumps, hanging arm over arm swinging along metal beams, cat leaps, and more. The goal is to complete the entire stage with silence, stealth, speed, and efficiency. There are several tricky parts to the course and chances are, you won’t complete it your first time without being “burned by lava” or “shocked by electricity”. This is a great challenge that utilizes many parkour like movements in an imaginary life or death situation. Essentially, it is parkour in its true form, the intent to overcome obstacles in a life or death situation. Obviously, the only difference is our life or death situation is imaginary.

Here is a sample of the obstacles undertaken in stage four. Use your imagination to figure out how you would complete the stage.

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Once you have finished your journey around the parking garage, your muscles will be burning, you’ll be short of breath, and your hands will be torn up. But it is worth it because you have just accomplished a long and difficult course. If you did it with a group and everyone made it, you should be proud of everyone because you pushed each other along the way and improved your fitness and discipline. If you did it alone, you should also be proud, knowing that you alone are capable of pushing yourself through something very challenging. By finishing a Gauntlet, you are becoming more physically adept and developing the strong mental discipline required to be successful in parkour. Congratulations, you have completed a Parkour Conditioning Gauntlet and are on your way toward many more successful parkour and fitness achievements!

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