Good day, everyone. I welcome you to my FitMaxtics blog devoted to all aspects of our health. I have decided to start my first blog with a very interesting question which I hear quite regularly “How to be fit/built/skilled like a gymnast?”
How to be fit/built/skilled as a gymnast?
This intention is great and appeals to many of my students and other people. No wonder, who doesn’t want to be as muscular, flexible, strong, coordinated, balanced as a gymnast? As a person who has some background in Gymnastics, I like this idea a lot. Let’s do it! Let’s train towards this noble goal!
But before let me tell you how one can start in Gymnastics. Typical age to begin Gymnastics is 5-6 years old. Some kids might start as late as 9-10. For the first time, you take a couple of training sessions a week 1-2 hours each. As you become stronger and your skills grow you start training more frequently 3-4 times a week 1-2hours each. When you made it to a competitive level gymnast at the age of 9-12 then the real journey begins.
Before that stage, it is a pure fun to train. Yet when you compete you must learn and practice a lot of elements on the floor, rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar, pommel horse and vault if we talk about men’s gymnastics. For girls, it is vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor. These are called events. As you can imagine there are a lot of elements in each of those events, at least 10-30 (40,50…? ). And of course, every element has its own progression drills which are indeed numerous and often depend on individual needs and conditions of an athlete.
Sound like a lot? Because it is. Professional gymnasts train 4-5 days a week back to back, 3 times each day, 2-3 hours each time. Correct. That much. How else? We need to be perfect in so many elements and have a lot to learn and practice. Essentially you live at the gym and sometimes don’t even go home. In countries like mine, Russian, Gymnastics is a state-sponsored program so they take care of you as long as you train and perform well. You would be living at a gymnastics camp with other gymnasts, train, sleep, eat and study (kinda) there.
Train 4-5 days a week back to back, 3 times each day, 2-3 hours each time
Recovery. This should be a different topic. Given that volume of training, you must rest a lot and be taken care of by a professional medical team. Cold baths, physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture etc these all need to be a part of your life.
Cold baths, physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture etc these all need to be a part of your life
Injuries. Ye. Those are your “best friends”. As much as you can try to avoid them, they will happen. it is just a reality you need to face. When they happen it is not pretty, not to mention that sometimes you must keep going coz a competition is coming and you don’t want to lose your spot in the team. Wrists, ankle, shoulders and lower back go first. The cycle “injury-recovery-ok-injury” follows you throughout your competitive career.
Injuries will happen. It is just a reality you need to face
Positives. You look great! You are strong and flexible. And also you feel somewhat somehow superior to your non-gymnast peers. Especially when you are a teenager it helps a lot with self-esteem and confidence…..sometimes even “too a lot”.
You will look great though!
Now let’s get to the point and answer the question “How to be fit/built/skilled like a gymnast?”. The bad news is this quest cannot be accomplished 100%. Good news is you DO NOT NEED IT 100%. Because you simply have other matters to take care of in your adult life such as job, kids, family, cat, dog, kids, car, house, friends, kids, cleaning, grocery shopping, dating(?), kids, traveling(!!!)…∞
The bad news is this quest cannot be accomplished 100%. Good news is you DO NOT NEED IT 100%
As everything, any training is good in moderation. At the end of the day, the goal is, in my humble opinion, to stay injury free, mobile, strong, flexible, coordinated and balanced. In other words - healthy. I would suggest that you focus on a couple of the most applicable to your lifestyle gymnastic training principles and incorporate them into your gym routine.
What would those principles be? Simple. Train to increase your flexibility, which will lead to an increased range of motion and after improve your strength trough-out your newly “unlocked” range of motion.
Train to increase your flexibility, which will lead to an increased range of motion, and after improve your strength trough-out your newly “unlocked” range of motion
As the progress go learn new simple movements where you can apply your new flexibility, range of motion and strength. Let’s say l-sit, wall supported handstand or any other elements you are currently unable to do.
Learn new simple movements you currently cannot do
Expand your movement limits! Though don’t get too passionate about it, you are not going to compete. And most importantly have fun with it!
Have fun with it!