Strength and Conditioning.

As you can tell this week has been devoted to ways to spice up your conditioning program. There are countless EXPERTS on gymnastics strength. I am NOT one of them.

Most coaches must be a jack of all trades, but a master on none. We are responsible for not only skill training, routine composition, safety, education, and mental health of their gymnasts, but also their conditioning.  I get frustrated  when I feel our conditioning has gotten into a rut or when I feel that our lack of strength is preventing us from accomplishing our skill goals.

There are Four basic principles that will help coaches to evaluate strength training. Each conditioning program should be:

  • -Consistent, special strength training is necessary for maximum performance in gymnastics;
  • -Training to increase muscle size and strength is important, but maximum strength from minimum size is the most important training goal;
  • -Rest and recuperation are important aspects of strength training, also in gymnastics;
  • -Strength training must be integrated with the skill training in gymnastics.

What are the exercises?
Gymnastics conditioning can be distilled to a group of only seven fundamental movements. Coaches should be aware that gymnasts train movements – not muscles. Bodybuilders train muscles and muscle groups. Patients recovering from surgery or immobilization train muscles and muscle groups. Gymnasts and virtually all other athletes train movements. While this may seem to be a trivial distinction, the difference is absolutely fundamental to athlete conditioning. With only a few exceptions, most gymnastics movements are multi-joint, multi-planar, and multi-directional. Simple uniplanar movements rarely mimic sport movements and result in a somewhat misplaced priority for training and conditioning.

Training for gymnastics conditioning consists of the following fundamental movements:

  • Shoulder flexion – casting, press handstands, planche
  • Shoulder extension – kipping, uprise, downswing phases of in-bar work
  • Upper extremity pushing – handstand, handstand push up, rebounding during hand contact phases
  • Upper extremity pulling – pull up, pullover, withstand the bottom of swinging skills
  • Jumping and landing – tumbling, vaulting, mounts, dismounts, dance movements
  • Torso and hip flexion – piking, tucking, leg lifts, forward somersault take offs, hollow body positions
  • Torso and hip extension – arching, back bends, walkovers, flic flacs, most backward take offs

Any complete conditioning program for gymnastics should include these movements. Therefore, a circuit program should have at least seven stations. While more exercises are certainly possible, and in some cases desirable, these seven movements are the “core” exercises.

I view conditioning in stages. Looking at what I want at the END. If my goal is for an athlete to do sets of cast handstands by nationals next year. Once you strengthen a shape and have a basic action you move through the shape. Then do gymnastics skills in sequence.

Just a very basic Example-
Step 1- Hold Hollow and Rope climb
2. Hollow hold to V up Slow
3. Hollow hold to V up Fast
4. Kip Pull with Bungee
5. Cast pull with bungee
6. Mean 18 with medium weight
7. mean 18 with heavier weight.  By this point they should be doing rope climb with No legs and good form
8. Spotted Cast handstands in a row (for Body shape)
9. Spotted hanging uprises
10. Planche leans/ Bounce handstands
11. Cast Handstands alone in a row
12. Spotted Kip Cast handstands in a row
13. Sets of 5 Kip cast handstands in a row.

Share your ideas on conditioning and strength here! Keep the Momentum going.

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