How Gymnasts Train

Gymnasts are among the most athletic people in the world. Built almost entirely of lean muscle and capable of lifting their own body weight to such a degree that many have no problems flinging themselves into the air with nothing but a bar to swing from. The sheer amount of training and body control that goes into getting that level of strength and skill is staggering, but completely doable if you’re willing to make an effort at it.

Stamina and Strength

While it would be nice if gymnasts only had to do gymnastics, the fact of the matter is that they need full body workouts just like everybody else. More than just tumbling and jumping, gymnasts need to be able to maintain high levels of activity for extended periods, which doesn’t even take into account the kind of pure power that they need to accomplish even some of the most basic moves.

Most gymnasts, after stretching, will start with some form of cardiovascular exercise. Whether it’s jogging, working with some equipment, riding a bike, or something else, they are going to do something that will get their heart pumping, burn fat, and build stamina.

Core Exercises

More than anything, gymnasts need a strong core. Almost every gymnastic move is predicated on the ability to maintain powerful abs, lats, and back muscles, so it’s vitally important that they spend the vast majority of their time doing core exercises.

These can be as simple as planks and crunches, though there are far more efficient exercises than that. Many gymnasts make liberal use of leg lifts and even hand stands in order to increase their core strength.

Another popular exercise which combines core and cardiovascular workouts is trampolining. Not only is 20 minutes on a trampoline as effective as an hour running, but the up and down motion causes your core muscles to instinctually contract and expand with every landing, which doesn’t even take into consideration the incredible exercise that you get in your legs, thighs, and butt.

The other advantage of trampolines for gymnasts is that it helps them improve their sense of body control and get used to the experience of weightlessness that many of them will experience in their routines.

Body Weight

Many gymnastic exercises are simple body weight exercises like pushups, pullups, and body squats. Body weight exercises are particularly important since most gymnastics requires working against your own body weight in some respect, whether it’s jumping between uneven bars or staying on a balance beam.

The other benefit of body weight exercises is that they help gymnasts get a better idea of how their weight is distributed and what they can do in order to move it around. This level of control only comes with extensive practice, but the results are hard to deny.

Actual Gymnastics

After taking all of that into account, then a gymnast might start working on some actual gymnastic routines. While most of them specialize in one form of the sport, many will train in different forms in order to get a better sense of how their body moves, strengthen a particular aspect of themselves, or even just provide the opportunity to compete in more than one area.

Some common forms that are used by gymnasts during training are the pommel horse and floor routines. These give the athlete a wide range of movement options as well as a chance to use the strength they’ve been building. Parallel bars are also a great way to put upper body strength and core work into action.

Professional gymnasts will often do up to ten routines in one practice session, each one focusing on improving a particular skill that they might need to work on.

How Much Do Gymnasts Work Out

This can vary between gymnasts, but for many, they are expected to do a minimum of 30 hours of training a week. For Olympic level competitors, it could be significantly more than that. Just reaching and maintaining the kind of conditioning necessary to be a gymnast at any sort of level can be a full time job.

That being said, people who aren’t gymnasts can learn a lot from them in how to stay in great condition. The first thing to remember is to not ignore cardiovascular training, even if your goal is to build strength. Focus on core workouts which can help support the rest of your exercise. Take the time to learn how your body works so that you’ll be able to use it more efficiently. And like the gymnasts who use trampolines in their workouts, try to find a way that you can have fun while exercising.

Rick Mason
 

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