A Gymnast’s Guide to Keeping Energized During Hot Summer Practices

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Sweat has been pouring down your face for the last 2 hours, but your lips are dry and you’re starting to hit the wall.  You’re wondering why that new skill keeps getting harder and harder, and why does coach keep yelling at me to keep my legs straight…they are straight, right?

I see gymnasts experiencing this every day during this time of the year!  It’s summer here in North America and we’re seeing record temperatures across the continent, but gymnasts keep going to the gym, and they don’t change their nutrition regimen and they expect the same results as when the temperatures were 20-30 degrees cooler.

For our gymnasts outside of North America and south of the Equator, keep reading because hot temperatures are coming to your city soon!

In order to have a better outcome in the gym, it’s important to change some of the finer points of your nutrition during heat waves.

Here are some of the most important things you can do to increase your energy levels in the gym during summer and these changes should be made now!

1.  Instead of plain water in the gym, start adding a carbohydrate drink like Gatorade or The Gymnast Care All Natural Carbohydrate Drink Recipe.  It’s incredibly important for young athletes to have glucose readily available for the muscles to use at all times during practice.  When this fuel is not readily available, the body has no way of getting extra energy.  Gymnasts do not mobilize fat for energy like a runner does because they have short bursts of intense work.  They NEED readily available sugar to keep their energy level up throughout a 4-5 hour practice.

It’s also crucial to replace the salts lost in the body during times of intense training.  When athletes sweat, they lose salts and it becomes difficult for them to mobilize water across their cell membranes.  When salt is added to their drink, it keeps the proper osmotic pressure in their bodies and salt moves the water in their drink into the cells where it is needed!

2.  It’s best to eat larger meals in the cool of the day, especially breakfast.  Most athletes will have a decreased appetite when it’s hot outside and it will be very difficult for them to get the calories they need.  So take advantage of breakfast!  It’s one of the most important meals of the day, and when it’s hot outside, it might be one of the only meals you’ll be able to get your athlete to eat!

3.  Add a fruit during mid-practice snack.  This is a easily digestable food, allowing the body to get more sugar to the cells of our gymnasts.  Try to stay away from high protein snacks and snacks that will be difficult to digest.  Keep it simple and you’ll see your gymnast have increased energy towards the end of practice!

Here are some examples of mid-workout and pre-workout snacks from our nutritional guide Championship Nutrition:

Healthy Mid Morning and Pre-workout Snack Choices

  • Sliced apples to dip in peanut butter
  • Half bagel topped with cream cheese and turkey or ham
  • Pita Chips and humus
  • Trail mix
  • Wheat crackers and tuna salad
  • A banana and sunflower seeds
  • Banana and almonds
  • Blueberries and String Cheese
  • Whole Wheat Muffin and Walnuts
  • Toasted English muffin and cheddar cheese
  • Yogurt and granola
  • Dave’s Killer Bread with peanut butter and/or Nutella
  • ½ Sandwich with meat, cheese, and veges
  • Fruit yogurt drink

Energy Generating Mid-workout Snacks

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Dried fruit like mangos or coconut
  • On hot days, utilize a fruit smoothie with frozen fruit and orange juice

4.  When the weather is especially hot, you might have to make your post-workout meal/snack light.  For example, a yogurt smoothie might be the way to go.  It combines protein, carbohydrates, fats and a cooling beverage to bring down temperatures after a hot practice!

Summer definitely can make things difficult for gymnasts, but with some small changes, you can see your skills increase by having extra energy throughout practice instead of being exhausted by the end.

Don’t forget to keep sipping water all day long when you’re not at the gym, and keep a great attitude to see your  skills sky rocket!

Thanks again for joining us for another post and we can’t wait to see you in the gym…charged and ready for another great season!

If you have a tip that you use to help keep your athlete fueled during the hot summer months, let us know in the comments below!.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.