Gymnasts are the epitome of strength, balance, agility and athleticism. Many wish they could be like them, some loathe to look like them, several want to be strong like them and very few are actually them. It takes a severe amount of discipline, determination, mental strength, and a hard work ethic to be able to call yourself a gymnast and to become one of elite caliber. For those who aspire to be more like a gymnast for their strength, balance and physique, there are several gymnastics strength training exercises that have actually grown in popularity over time and have hit the front lines of fitness training and routines today.
In an article posted on fitnessfaqs.tv, they give a fabulous explanation and definition of what gymnastics strength training is, what it can do for you and how your body alone can benefit from incorporating such training into your fitness regimen. They write: “In short, I would define Gymnastics Strength Training as a means of building up your baseline level of strength primarily through gymnastics and bodyweight-based exercises. This strength can then be applied in several ways: Advancing into training for more difficult progressions of fundamental gymnastic movements, such as those on the floor, rings or bar; Advancing into weighted variations of basic pushing or pulling exercises typically performed with bodyweight, such as weighted chinups, pullups, muscle ups, or dips; Transitioning into a conventional strength training protocol, such as those used for Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting or to a degree; Bodybuilding; All the above. An impressive balance between an ability to manipulate your bodyweight, perform weighted bodyweight exercises, and achieve respectable numbers when performing heavy compound movements with a barbell.” (1) The site further goes on to explain how the progression of strength training at the gymnastics level can be slow. It’s not the kind of training that you would want to pursue if you are wanting fast and obvious results. If you imagine how long it would take a beginner gymnast to stretch enough to be able to accomplish a full split, that’s the kind of progression this level of strength training has. Yes, as it remains a slow, time consuming process, once you start seeing results or feeling the results, they are more than rewarding, probably more so than a couple of months doing the same, average, square fitness routine for a few months.
Healthfitnessrevolution.com goes into more depth about the health benefits that gymnastics alone can do for the body. In their article, “Top 10 Health Benefits of Gymnastics,” it is no surprise that flexibility is listed as one of the top ten health benefits. They note that for obvious reasons, flexibility is a primary factor in gymnastics. When the body becomes more flexible, the risk of injury is reduced. Maintaining a level of mobility for joints and muscles is very important. When we stay flexible, our muscles will not grow weak, and the range and motion within our joints will help prevent future injuries and ailments that can be caused by decreased flexibility. In addition, decreased flexibility and range of motion can cause a plethora of injuries such as tears, strains to the muscles, injuries and disease to joints. Further according to the site, “By learning movements and combining them in a routine, the gymnast can attain greater flexibility and greater control of the body.” (2)
Other items that made their list of “Top 10 Benefits from Gymnastics,” includes: “Disease prevention, strong and healthy bones, increased self-esteem, daily exercise needs, increased cognitive function, increased coordination, strength development, and discipline.” (2) Regardless of which results you are looking for, adding gymnastics as a whole, or just gymnastics strength training, can certainly add an extra boost to your daily exercise routine for a better, stronger, balanced, and healthier body. So, when it comes to gymnastics strength training exercises, which ones are the best?
Here are the top five best strength training gymnastics strength training exercises that are sure to put you on a path to a better, stronger and healthier you.
Hollow-Body Hold and Hollow-Body Rock
According to menshealth.com, in their article “8 Gymnastics You Must Add to Your Routine,” the hollow-body hold and hollow-body rock is a strength training exercise is something that is taught within the day of gymnastics training. The site adds: “The foundational position teaches you to brace your abdominals and create total-body tension- two skills that are integral to the sport, says Speer. But here’s why the hollow-body hold can give you a huge edge: The stronger and more stable you are in the position, the better you’ll be at transferring the force from your upper body to your lower body without any energy leaks, Speer explains. That means you can squat, throw, push, pull, jump, hit, kick and sprint with more power.” (3.)
Hollow body pull up
Further according to menshealth.com, their article reveals that the only way a gymnast does a pull up is in a hollow body position, which is the way that every person should perform a pull up. The site adds: “Holding your body in a concave position increases stability, allowing you to focus more effort on pulling your body up to the bar. It also engages more muscles- including your glutes and hamstrings- and forces your lats and abs to work together, Speer explains.” (3.)
Menshealth.com tells us that gymnasts perform this on the rings and parallel bars. “It’s an isometric exercise that challenges the strength and stamina of your rectus abdominus (six-pack muscles), hip flexors and triceps,” says Speer. “If you can hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, you are the owner of a seriously strong torso.” (3)
Another phenomenal exercise that was noted by menshealth.com in their article is the planche pushup. This pushup is not your average push up. They write: “Gymnasts perform the planche to demonstrate their extreme upper-body strength and endurance. They even lift their feet off of the floor until their body is parallel to the ground. That’s an advanced version, so Speer recommends trying the planche pushup. You’ll perform a pushup (with your feet on the floor), but shift your weight forward as you as you lower your chest. It works your pecs, deltoids, and core harder than a regular pushup, and also strengthens the muscles and connective tissues in your wrists and shoulders,” he says. (3)
Lastly, menshealth.com also tells us the benefits from just a simple handstand. They write: “Handstands are to gymnastics as free throws are to basketball: They’re a necessity to the sport, and they take a ton of practice. Putting in the effort to master the move is time well spent for you, too. Handstands come with bragging rights, and numerous other benefits like better balance, core strength, overhead mobility, proprioception, and shoulder and scapular stability.” (3)
With all of the exercises we mentioned, as long as you are able to complete them in proper form and research how to execute them properly, you will be well on your way to a better and stronger body, one that will allow either a boost to your already existing routines, or make other workout exercises easier and more sustainable. These exercises are also sure to improve your form with other exercises as well. Another added benefit to all of these fabulous exercises is that you can do them anytime, anywhere. You don’t necessarily have to seek the help of a gym membership to help you achieve your goals.