Have you ever wondered what exercises the truly fit and healthy gymnasts are doing that your gymnast isn’t doing?
It’s about time we start maximizing workouts to help protect gymnasts and get the most out of the short time they do have in the gym. In their paper entitled, “Should Female Gymnasts Lift Weights” Dr. Bill Sands and Dr. Jeni McNeal talk about 4 incredibly important exercises gymnasts should be doing to maximize their time in the gym, get incredibly strong, and stay safe. If you haven’t yet read this article, it should be a must read for anyone involved in gymnastics. Check it out here: http://www.sportsci.org/jour/0003/was.html
We’ve taken the four exercises listed in this article, described how to do them, and we’ve added an amazing power building exercise for number 5. At Gymnast Care, these are the exercises we encourage athletes to do especially when they need that edge to become better gymnasts…Here they are:
1. The Squat
The squat is the basic movement of all athletics. If you can’t squat properly, you’re going to be encouraging injury because you’ll have weak hamstrings and glutes, and you’ll have no clue how to land properly.
Here’s directions on how to squat from the Gymnast Care Book on Injuries. The video is from our Video Edition and it’s our entire Phase 1 Core Control Protocol (your gymnast should be able to do all of this along with the squat):
THE FIRST THING THAT MOVES IN A SQUAT IS YOUR GLUTES, AND THEY MOVE BACKWARD!
Always start with core tight and glutes squeezed as much as possible. Feet should be shoulder width apart and toes facing forward. Glutes move back and knees bend in a hinge like motion, not allowing knees to
slide forward. Never allow knees to go inside or outside of the strong knee line. This is an imaginary line created by drawing a straight line from the space between the first and second toe, to the knee, hip, and shoulder. Most athletes will let their knees go inside of this line. Encourage the gymnast to have strong knees.
Keep weight in the heels but toes on the ground, chest over knees, lowering into the squat slowly. Stop when the hips are just below the knees. Hips should maintain a 30 degree angle, core should be tight, and spine should be erect, never bowing the torso.
On the up phase, push through the heels, not allowing the knees to go forward, and squeeze the glutes as hard as possible! At the top, the whole body should be in a straight line, with the core extremely tight and the glutes squeezed as much as possible.
2. The Deadlift
The deadlift always seems to be assosiated with incredibly large muscle men, but this is because the only time we see someone deadlifting is in the Olympics! Did you know, you probably deadlift objects a hundred times a day. The deadlift is just picking something up off the floor.
Our athletes need to do it right so they can build proper lower body strength, and incredible core control. Here’s video instructions on how to do the deadlift.
3. The Press
The Press is an amazing core strength exercise. Taking weight above the head and keeping the core tight with glutes squeezed is a skill most young athletes do not know how to do. Have you seen gymnasts in your gym arching their back as soon as their arms go over their head…just look when an athlete salutes and see the arch! This tells us there’s a lack of control and control must be developed and taught to young gymnasts!
Check this video out on how to press:
4. The Pull-up
Most gymnasts struggle doing pull-ups (also known as the bodyweight pull-down). The reason for this is they have overdeveloped chest muscles and a lack of back muscles. Most coaches assign pull-ups as part of their workout, but they assign 20-30 at a time. Most athletes (regardless of sport) can only do about 5-10 pull-ups at a time, unless they kip. Kipping uses accessory muscles and stops using the back muscles. So instead of focusing on 30 bad pull-ups, focus on 1-5 with perfect form.
Watch as this incredibly fit gymnast can do 1 pull-up, but it’s a lot of hard work for her! Keep this great form in mind when your gymnast is doing their workout.
5. The Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell swings are the most dynamic strength building exercises we’ve found for gymnasts! They mimic back tumbling and help our athletes build more core strength. Once you’ve taught your athletes the squat and the deadlift, this should be the next exercise to get into their workout…check out our video on the kettlebell swing:
Make sure you learn how to do these exercises properly before prescribing them to your athlete. We want to make sure your gymnast is protected first, then we can get them strong!
If you have any questions, make sure you leave them in the comments below!