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Topics - Mathew C

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Training Journals / Adventures of a traceur on two wheels
« on: June 19, 2010, 12:14:50 PM »
Hey all. I'm Matt (the traceur on two wheels). To be totally clear, by "two wheels" I mean I'm a cyclist, and almost everything I write here will concern cycling.

I've always felt that cycling is very similar to parkour. Getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible using only the abilities of the human body... that's basically what I do when I'm on my bike, but I apply a few simple machines. Of course I wouldn't call it parkour any more than I would assign that term to any other safe, quick, and efficient discipline, but I certainly approach it with the same philosophy of useful efficiency and practical self-improvement.

Unfortunately, many cyclists don't share these ideas. I can't tell you how many cyclists I see who practice competitively, or take unnecessary risks. Many don't even know how to be safe to begin with. That's why, for my Eagle Scout project (I'm a Boy Scout working towards the rank of Eagle) I'm working to write, illustrate, and publish a freely available guide to basic safety, with an emphasis on trails in the DC area. I'll likely include much of my work here, to share the knowledge and possibly get some peer advice.

That's all for now. My next post will be a summary of the adventure ride I went on last Tuesday (my first big ride of the summer) and a plan for another ride this coming Tuesday.

Parkour And Freerunning / Do-it-yourself books
« on: February 15, 2010, 04:53:14 PM »
It's been established that for a novice without access to expensive personal training, the best source of information on applicable strength training is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. What about for other specific disciplines? Specifically, does anybody know of a comparable comprehensive novices' guide to any martial art?

(I had no idea what board this should go on, so I went with one that was somewhat appropriate and high-traffic)

Training Journals / Matt's Log
« on: January 27, 2010, 06:49:42 PM »
----February 2010----
This month, I'm mostly keeping a log to make sure that I actually keep up workouts. I don't have any measurable goals, or at least none that involve anything changing. It's all good though, I'm in no rush - that's the beauty of non-competition.

1. Improve flexibility in my harmstrings (3-foot legs make for a very horizontal torso during lifts)
2. Get deadlift form down
3. Fix the baseball biceps in preparation for rock climbing
4. Ease my right tricep back into training (now that a torn tendon has healed as much as it ever will) and be smart about it. In terms of volume that means starting small, increasing slowly, and listening to my body. It also means continuing those high-rep, low-resistance curls that have always done me so well in the past.

The Plan
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
1) Preacher curls; 10-20 reps, low weight (weight TBD once I see how a 10-lb blank bar treats me)
2) Deadlifts; 45-lb blank bar, 5 reps, starting as close to standard bar height as possible while keeping good lumber position and striving for ideal form
3) Repeat x 3
4) Stretch to get rid of tightness, focusing on hamstrings and biceps

Tuesday, Thursday
1) Lots of easy, gentle stretching to improve hamstring flexibility (at least 10)

Things that get to chill out this month
1) Right tricep tendon, by the elbow
2) Achilles tendons (not sure what happened there, they started getting irritated after I stopped my weekly cycling trips in December)
3) Left shoulder/way outer pectoral (thus no squats - the stretch of bringing my hands close enough for tight, supportive traps irritates the muscle/tendon)
4) Arches (During 2 weeks of wearing comfortable boots with lots of ankle support I got lazy about supporting my ankles and my severely flat, flexible arches; they didn't like that)

Other things
1) 8 glasses of milk a day
2) No basketball (aw)
3) No cycling

Things to look forward to next month
1) Deadlifts with weight added
2) Cycling
3) More preacher curls

Cool? Cool

Diet / Gaining weight?
« on: January 03, 2010, 11:41:49 AM »
I want to gain weight. Not muscle; no, I want to gain fat.

This fall, I ventured into the world of cycling. It's a wonderful sport if you approach it from a noncompetitive point of view (as a traceur who can't drive, I find it perfectly within the philosophy of parkour to use my bike as a more efficient means to get around my state). Anyway, I lost some weight while cycling. To be specific, my body fat percentage is about 6% right now, and I'm not sure how healthy or safe that is. So, unless someone thinks that's a reasonable amount (here comes my real question):

What are some healthy sources of fat I can add into my regular diet?

(I've since started to more closely monitor my calories burned while cycling to make sure that they come from nice carbs, and my BF% has plateaued)

Training Journals / Brother wants to lift
« on: November 20, 2009, 10:50:38 PM »
My younger brother (high school freshman) wants to do some upper body strength training and conditioning for tennis. He showed promise at a summer camp and wants to do well and avoid injury when he starts daily practice in the spring. He asked for my guidance, so I'm appealing to my two most reliable resources: Starting Strength, and you fellas.

There are just a few issues. He lacks the kinesthetic sense, and the flexibility, to do lifts like DL's, squats, or cleans. While the flexiblity will come with stretching, kinesthetic sense is something he'll develop through instruction and by learning lifts and other techniques properly. So, here's the plan, based on general training theory and the "2-push 2-pull" idea for upper body strength training.

2-3 times a week
  • Warm-up (running, elliptical machine, treadmill, good stuff)
  • dynamic stretching
  • 3-5 pull-ups, going for height
  • 3-5 dips, going for depth
  • Bench press (SS style, with blank bar set, WU sets, and work sets)
  • Partial-ROM rows (partial ROM = starting with the bar higher off the ground, since he lacks the flexibility to do it from DL depth and partials still require the skill of locking out the core and benefit the muscles around the shoulders, elbows and wrists)
  • cool-down and stretching

Once workout volume reaches a reasonable level (~85 lb bench and row, full ROM pull-ups and dips) this will become a split, with workout A using the BW exercises and workout B using rows/benches. As he improves flexibility and awareness, I'll introduce new exercises (overhead press, squat, deadlift, clean). Meanwhile, I'll be teaching him good things (training theory, key concepts from SS, form) with SS as a reference.

Comments, suggestion, questions... all are welcome.

Training Journals / Matt's Log
« on: November 03, 2009, 09:05:59 PM »
I'm Matt. This is my log.

Empirical goodness
I'm 6'3" (but still growing)
I weight between 175 180 lbs (79.5 and 81.5 kgs), depending on water and food
I am 7% bodyfat and don't plan to try and bring that down; if anything, I'm struggling to keep it from falling

More good information
I have quite good endurance but am unaccustomed to significant impact, as a result of a background in backpacking and cycling

I'm fairly flexible: almost flexible enough to do a proper squat below parallel, but unable (by a decent margin) to lock my back and deadlift off the ground

These two items are the basis for my goals over the winter:
Short term
1) To begin running, building up to mile-long runs on grass, 4-5 times per week
2) To be flexible enough to deadlift a normal bar at standard height (8" I believe)

Long term
1) To build up to 1.5mi - 2mi runs on a paved surface, 4-5 times per week
2) To deadlift my bodyweight (for the sake of round numbers, I will assume I weigh a neat 180 lbs for this goal)

Parkour And Freerunning / pistols and/or leg presses
« on: July 01, 2009, 06:34:00 PM »
Here's the scoop: I'm trying to increase my vertical leap, and the muscles involved are all plyometrically maxed out. Of course, the thing to do is increase the base force production in my posterior chain through strength training. A tendon in my right elbow is currently beginning what looks to be a fairly long career in physical therapy, so my options don't include any exercises involving the triceps. That list includes all manner of cleans, squats and deadlifts.

It looks like the only two plausible solutions are leg presses or pistols, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. What do you guys think?

Training Journals / Varsity
« on: June 29, 2009, 07:29:39 PM »
My goal is simple: I want to become a part of my school's varsity basketball team during my senior year, having recently graduated from sophomore status.

I've been thinking about it for a long, and after much indecision I'm sure this is what I want to pursue athletically. Although I recognize that some elements of my chosen sport run contrary to the principles of parkour (thus my conflicting thoughts on the matter), I view these differences as obstacles to overcome as a traceur. In short, this means approaching basketball through the ideals of safe and patient training, only truly competing to overcome the self of two weeks prior.

In the next post, stay tuned for anticipated struggles and advantages (including a short lesson on the various positions of basketball players) and the corresponding set of goals.

Parkour And Freerunning / Guys at primal fitness
« on: February 11, 2009, 06:28:07 PM »
I'm finally being REALLY smart about it and looking into a physical therapist for the tendinitis (I'm fairly certain it isn't tendinosis). In a perfect world, I would do this with a traceur physical therapist (to save a whole lot of time answering questions and giving potentially misleading explanation). I go to school in NE D.C., so I thought 'hey, what about the trainers at primal fitness?'

My question: Are any of the trainers at primal fitness certified (qualified, idk) in physical therapy? I'll probably have more questions, but for now that's the only one

Parkour And Freerunning / A wise traceur
« on: January 31, 2009, 11:07:48 PM »
Just something that I've been turning over in my mind for a while

Parkour is, at its core and roots, utilitarian. The ultimate goal is to be able to get somewhere as quickly and efficiently as possible when the time comes that you have to. Yes, it's about having fun, relearning how to move, and experiencing freedom, but while those things have a key place in the discipline, they are not the goal. They take the lofty role that discipline, confidence, and self-control enjoy in martial arts - fundamental, but the goal is still to be able to defend yourself.

That said, unless you travel a lot, your main focus should be your normal surroundings. I'll take Washington DC as an example, since some of our mods live there, and I train there. It is a very urban area, and its streets are layed out in a grid system. A traceur there would be wise to focus on gatevaults (Mark knows what I'm talking about  ;)), general ease of dealing with rails and midsize obstacles, and running; he/she could afford to give less attention to high passe murailles and extreme, since there is a strict limit on building height, and with the typical proximity of metro stations would have little reason to practice running more than a few miles at a time. A particularly adventurous traceur might spend time figuring out a faster way to traverse those Metro Station escalators (run up the handrails, anyone?)

To use a more extreme example, a traceur living in Appalachia would have almost no use for rolls, passe murailles, underbars nor most of the techniques typically associated with rails. Instead, they would be wise to focus on traversing distances of varying terrain while carrying a load (there are many reasons to be in Appalachia, but most suggest you carry your things with you).

It is true that, for the sake of self improvement, a wise traceur trains all aspects of the body through many disciplines, the most common being parkour itself, yoga, running, swimming, rock climbing, and olympic lifting. The wise traceur does so recognizing that every discipline, every technique, and every moment of training lends itself to another, often more efficiently than practicing that other; an example is the way that lifting increases the ease with which parkour techniques may performed. A very wise traceur does so recognizing that every skill is useful in a real world context, though some are applicable more often than others.

At the risk of sounding pretentious, the best immediate example of a 'very wise' traceur is myself: for utilitarian reasons, I practice holding my breath. An average person can go without air of their own accord for 30, maybe 45 seconds. I don't even start to feel that urge to breathe for the first minute, and without preparation can go for more than a minute and a half if I'm motivated. With preparation, I've neared 3 and a half, and can typically approach 3. Guess what? It saved my life. I was sailing with a friend in a small boat (it may have been designed as a one-person craft), and somehow ended up under the sail when it capsized. The rudder, which is inserted from the top and can be used as a pull-up bar in order to right the boat, had fallen out on my side, so there was no fixing it for now. My head went underwater for a split second, and somehow in that instant the air buble in which I was residing was gone. I hadn't taken a breath, so my lungs were half full, and now I was trapped with no sense of direction. I knew I would never make it if I started swimming and ran into the body of the boat or tried to surface and ended up still under something; while wearing a life jacket, I swam about 5 feet down, and held that depth as I swam 15 or 20 feet laterally before surfacing. The whole ordeal took about 20-30 seconds. Now find a watch, and see how long you can hold your breath after exhaling while you're sitting still.

Training Journals / Doing it right
« on: January 14, 2009, 08:00:08 PM »
   A long time ago I made a commitment to take a long break from training technique to let my body grow, mature, and for the first while heal; the plan was aptly named Six Hundred Days, and I'm proud to say that I have been loyal to my commitment, with at most one exception (depending on if you count a gatevault about 4 months in that I landed before realizing what I'd done).

   Day 600 is January 20, 2009, so now I'm making another, wiser, and more reasonable commitment: to start over and do it right. I'm going to start small, progress slowly, and never forget that I'm on my own time, that there's no rush, and that there is no shame in doing small things until you can't get it wrong (no matter how many of my competitive athletic peers get to see me drilling 5 foot precisions).

Parkour And Freerunning / Why traceurs are the sexiest athletes alive
« on: January 09, 2009, 01:57:46 AM »
First off, a little lesson in evolution.

   Most of us have observed that there are certain things that almost all women like to see in men physically (there are too many guys with weird and specific preferences regarding the builds of the women they're attracted too, so I won't cover that here). These features are generally consistent, with a surprisingly low frequency of exceptions. But why? The answer is rooted in evolution.
   Suppose we place 100 men and 100 women in an enclosed forest. These people all have extremely varied builds, and are all attracted to random traits in the opposite sex. This is a fairly typical forest, so at night animals come out, forcing the people to live parts of their lives up in the trees. Occasionally an animal might come out during the day; if it's dangerous or hungry, whoever runs into it better be able to run quickly with whatever they're carrying. Then of course there are the physical demands of daily life (hunting, gathering, and so on).
   We can logically assume that, given the range of body types and sizes present in the human population, some people will have a better chance than others of surviving long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes and their builds, and thus after many generations most people of the same gender will have similar bodies. This is where attraction comes. Suppose Mary and Maria are attracted to guys with strong, built cores, and so they go reproduce with two such guys, while Suzy and Suzanne are attracted to guys with nice necks, so they go find two guys of their own. Who's kids do you think will probably have a better chance at survival? Mary and Maria. If they have daughters, then the genes that make someone attracted to strong core muscles will be more likely to get passed on then less helpful genes, such as those that lead to an attraction to strong necks.
   If we scale this up to, say, the entire earth during the early millennia of mankind, there are enough people around to ensure that if Mary and Maria get attacked by tigers first, tigers have very likely also attacked as many neck-loving people, and it's unlikely that any advantageous genes (those for advantageous traits or those for attraction to such traits) will die out by fluke. Also, with enough time, an 'ideal' build will arise; given that among the human-inhabited places on earth the variation in daily demands placed on people is pretty small (and mostly compensated for with differences in overall size or the proportions of different types of muscle fibers), we end up with a more universal ideal build. With the exception of pigmy warriors taking a wrong turn onto the ice bridge and ending up in Sweden, people who are attractive in one place are attractive pretty much everywhere.

So, where do traceurs come in?
   At this point in history, most differences in build don't come from genetics, but rather depend on whether we attempt to utilize our genetic potential. The gene pool has narrowed down enough that from the neck down (and excluding deformation) we would all be attractive if we were all in shape. Although attractiveness is still gauged by proximity to a rough ideal, the variations in attractiveness among the human population comes more from what we do. Remember, our bodies adapt over time to take on the ideal build for whatever demands it regularly faces. Marathon runners' bodies are inevitably the ideal build for some people, but most of those people live somewhere in Kenya. Bodybuilders' bodies as well are the ideal to a few, but those few live mostly in forests and eat honey.
   Now, if you think for a second, you'll realize that the ideal 'ideal body' is the body which has adapted to be able to cope with any demand that one might face in a natural survival setting. It is the body that universally has the best survival rates. Now, what are those people called... those people that practice to be able to deal with any situation...
to survive...
to be and to last...
ĂȘtre et durer...

Oh, right.

First off I'm not here to make a point (although I do have a definite view on the matter) or to set anyone off. I just want to talk to some other traceurs, casual, purist, or otherwise, and hear their feelings.

How do you feel about competitive sports as a whole?

To avoid redundancy, there are a few sentiments I've noticed among almost every serious traceur on this issue. The most basic is the main argument against competitive sports, that being the idea of health and fitness no longer being the primary goal, but rather nice qualities that should take back seat to the overall goal of a competitive athletic - competitive success. One example that comes to mind is a story I heard briefly a few weeks ago. The gist of it was that Kobe Bryant (maybe Lebron James, don't remember) was having a fourth surgery to remove debris from his knee in order to speed up his rehab and hopefully get him back on the court in time for some tournament. At this point most traceurs would scoff at such a decision, valuing their own bodies (and the preservation thereof) over any kind of athletic victory. A few would then feel great remorse upon realizing that Kobe Bryant, had he been born in the right place and time, has the genetics and potential to have been one of the greatest traceurs in the world.

There's no good way to end this post except by saying that I'm eager to hear all of your thoughts.

Peace, T rex

Training Journals / T rex's log / temporary moon mission disciple log
« on: November 09, 2008, 05:37:06 PM »
First off, I'll introduce myself, as I'm just now using the forums after creating my account a few years ago. If any of you used to use, you might know me - there I went by the name Religan (I later decided to go for a better-sounding name - you be the judge of whether I was successful). I was in 8th grade then, and was pretty inexperienced, having just started parkour that year. Foolish as I was, my training ratio was something like 70% technique to 30% conditioning, and needless to say, I suffered some stress injuries, including bringing out some ankle problems that had been dormant until that point. Later that year, after growing a great deal wiser and letting my body heal, my injuries had all but vanished through alternating low-impact, high-strength exercises and periods of rest and stretching. However, my ankles still bothered me. So, I gave myself a timeline, deciding that for a period of time I would not practice technique at all, but only condition and heal until my body was both injury-free and injury-proof. This soon evolved into a large project known as Six Hundred Days (June 1, 2007 - January 20, 2009) and several people joined me, many from other continents.

I'm starting this log near the end of the project. At the moment I'm in the process of rehabbing a non-parkour-related injury to the tendon connecting my right tricep to my elbow. My goal is to, within 4 weeks, be able to return to PE class (from which I've been absent for fear of aggravating my elbow). Until then (and actually beginning several weeks ago) I will be gradually building up to 25 push-ups followed by 40 minutes of moderate activity involving some sport typical of PE - out of personal preference I'm choosing basketball.

So that's enough for this post. In the next one I will either give some of my current physical stats, or begin to describe the areas I use to train so I don't have to keep describing it every time I practice box jumping onto that convenient progressively higher ledge protruding from the side of the angled wheelchair ramp.

Thread & Board Archive / 600 Days Article
« on: May 29, 2007, 10:41:09 AM »
Just out of curiousity, has anyone here read an article called "Six Hundred Days"? It was originally posted on, but the site is down.

Edited the title :]

Mid-Atlantic / xtreme acro and cheer
« on: April 04, 2007, 05:01:22 PM »
does anyone know the street address of the xtreme acro and cheer gym?

Training Journals / T rex's quest for stronger knees
« on: April 04, 2007, 02:45:22 PM »
      Hey guys. I'm new here, and I have a new goal for the month: Stronger knees. I spent all winter conditioning my ankles, and now I'm really happy with my ankle strength. I haven't had the slightest bit of pain down there since mid-January. Now, I'd like to get my knees that strong. I'm on spring break now, so I have more time than I did while i was doing my ankles, but less access to equipment/stairs/ledges/good places to run.
      So, I'll start off with instinct training, mainly doing some leg contractions and leg extensions on the weight machine in my basement. I'll also to some full-down squats with a weighted vest. That'll be light enough not to damage my knees by going to far down, but still heavy enough to strengthen them more and give me strength through the whole range of motion.
      Once I get back in school, I'll start doing some really heavy heavy leg contraction and leg extensions. I'm gonna start out with leg extensions of my bodyweight (145 lbs) and some leg contractions of half of my bodyweight (the machine at my school is for one-leg contractions).
      Also, I'm going on an increased protein diet and a super-increased calcium diet. I'll be getting at least 150% of my DV of protein and at least 200% of my DV of calcium. Thank God for milk, which has 18% protein DV and 30% calcium DV.
      Well, I'm done rambling now. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to give them. Until then, I'm out.

Edit: I'll also be doing Demon's drill of the months for April, which compliments my goals.

Mid-Atlantic / Video
« on: April 03, 2007, 05:35:58 PM »
Hey everyone. My buddy Kees (pronounced "case") and I are making a pk video around the Washington D.C. area. I was wondering if there are any traceurs in or around the area who wanted to come with us and be in the video or maybe show us some nice spots.
We've already got some really nice spots lined usp, as well as a lot of really good ideas. So if there's anyone around, let me know.
just so you know, there's no set date, but it'll probably be some time in april, as that's when we're on spring break.

Edit: My buddy ben is coming too (and he claims to know psychosis)

District of Columbia / Video
« on: April 03, 2007, 02:25:07 PM »
Hey everyone. My buddy Kees (pronounced "case") and I are making a pk video around the Washington D.C. area. I was wondering if there are any traceurs in or around the area who wanted to come with us and be in the video or maybe show us some nice spots.
We've already got some really nice spots lined usp, as well as a lot of really good ideas. So if there's anyone around, let me know.
just so you know, there's no set date, but it'll probably be some time in april, as that's when we're on spring break.

Edit: My buddy ben is coming too (and he claims to know psychosis)

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