Incorporating Gymnastics

Madalyn Saunier Incoporating Gymnastics

Need to mix up your training regimen?  Can’t make it to the gym?  Always had an itch to learn some gymnastics?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re in the right place!

By:  FITBODY’s Madalyn Saunier, NPC Fitness Competitor, BS Exercise Science

Gymnastics is a very dynamic and exciting sport that challenges the body and the mind.  Most competitors seen on TV have a very high level of training and many years of dedication.  However, for the average gym goer the basics of gymnastics can be adapted into a fun and effective workout. 

There are numerous shaping and conditioning skills in the sport, but I am going to focus on a few basic shapes that will help lay a foundation for your gymnastics skills.

1.)   The Handstand: In gymnastics, handstand is King.  Most skills are based from a handstand position and it showcases strength, balance, agility and flexibility.   The best way to practice a handstand for beginners (even intermediate or advanced!) is to practice a handstand up against a wall.  Preferably with stomach facing the wall, to help train the shoulders to keep the body flat and in a vertical position.  Hold the best vertical position for 15sec-60sec, making sure to shrug through the shoulders.

2.)   Hollow Body: Gymnastics requires a lot of core strength and one of the ways to train those muscles is through variations of hollow body positions.  While lying down on your back and arms down at your sides, lift feet and shoulders off the floor a few inches by using your abs and trying to press your lower back to the ground.  For a more advanced hold, extend the arms overhead.  Hold for 20sec-45sec.

3.)   Arched Body: AKA “Supermans” This exercise helps strengthen the backside of our bodies; it is the antagonist of the hollow.  Lying face down on the floor with arms down at your sides, lift feet and chest a few inches off the floor, trying to keep the body in a “U” shape.  Be sure to keep legs straight and together.  For a more advanced move, extend arms overhead and have eyes focus upward.  Hold for 20sec-45sec.

4.)   Splits: Yay! Splits are the epitome of flexibility and can easily be accomplished over time.  A good split comes from flexible and correct placement of the hips.  To train each side, start on the floor with one leg in front and bent in a lunge with hands on top of your knee, and your back leg resting on its knee.  Think of your hips as “headlights” that you always want to keep pointing forward and try to press your hips down during the lunge.  Hold for 20sec and then straighten the front leg and put hands on either side of the floor and again starting from the hips, slide down into a split, trying not to turn your “headlights”.  Also keep feet pointed and do not allow your foot to turn inward, it should be turned out.  Hold your best split for 20-30sec, it will get better with time!

Gymnastics skills aren’t learned overnight, they are trained over time.  By starting these shaping exercises, they will help you gain an advantage on your skill performance.  These exercises can be added to your workouts already, or you can combine the four and complete up to three sets of each to get a challenging workout.  Form is key!!  Also be sure to have a safe environment with enough space to properly perform the given exercises.  If you’re still itching to get moving on furthering your gymnastics repertoire, look into local gyms in your area and see if they offer any adult classes or open gyms.  Have fun!

Madalyn Saunier, NPC Fitness Competitor, BS Exercise Science

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