How to Incorporate Gymnastics Training into Your Workout Program

Created by Rebecca Carr

Last Updated: August 13, 2020

CATEGORIES: Physical Fitness

I was excited when Rebecca from Innate Moves asked if she could write a post about gymnastics training. Gymnastics was my sport of choice when I was growing up and I’ve just always thought it’s so much fun! True, it feels a bit more challenging now that I’m not a kid, but I love the full body workout challenge it presents (and the fun aspect more than ever!)

There are so many gymnastics centered strength and flexibility exercises as well as gymnastics skills that can be done anywhere, with no equipment. Progression levels are available for all levels of skill and fitness, so it’s certainly not exclusive to elite gymnasts. Use this guide to get you started on bringing gymnastics training into your workout routine!

Elly xx

What is Gymnastics Training?

Gymnastics training is becoming popular among people to gain another level of fitness. While gymnastics is usually thought of as a competitive sport reserved for young athletes, it is actually a very accessible activity for anyone that wants to get in shape.  With mindful intentions while following a solid plan, you can incorporate a gymnastics training program into your normal workout routine even if you do not have a gymnastics background!

Benefits of Gymnastics Training

Flexibility

While being flexible may not be high up on your fitness priorities list, it probably should be. Flexibility gives a greater range of movement, making workouts easier and more effective.

Flexibility also helps prevent injuries and soreness. Tight muscles over time can pull your body into misalignments. A good gymnastics training workout will stretch your body thoroughly and evenly.

Strength

It’s no secret that gymnastics builds strength! This can transfer over to improved strength for various other sports and activities. What is unique is that a gymnastics weight training program is done mainly with one’s own body.

Gymnastics strength training need not require any equipment. A good gymnastics strength training program relies mainly on one’s own body, and gravity, to gain functional strength.

Looking for a full-body workout routine that doesn’t use any equipment? Grab your FREE bodyweight workout plan on the link below. It will help you with a good foundation for gymnastics specific strength. There are progressions available for all levels of fitness.

Gymnastic Training for Coordination

Kinesthetic awareness is our sense of movement. It is heightened by moving your body in different ways, as gymnastics does. It helps us maintain and build balance and coordination. Gymnastics, with such dynamic movements, makes for one of the best activities for our kinesthesia.

Gymnastics Training at Home | Basic Gymnastics Workout

If you are considering adding gymnastics strength training to your normal strength training routine (instead of making it your sole workout), I recommend doing the gymnastics skills first before you weight train. Otherwise your muscles may be too fatigued to be of much use in your gymnastics skills.

Try these gymnastics exercises, which can be considered as a gymnastics workout routine for beginners.

Warm-Up

Always begin by warming the body. There are exercises that are especially good to begin a  gymnastics workout, but anything can work to warm the muscles first.  If you have a favorite activity, such as walking or yoga, tag it on just before beginning your gymnastics training.

A good warm-up will also lightly stretch muscles, tendons, and fascia. Exaggerating your movements can help with this. Let’s take walking, for example. Begin by walking for a few minutes. As you notice your body getting warmer, start going faster. Now elongate your stride so are lunging as you step. Then change your walk so that you are taking shorter steps, but kicking with each one. Sometimes I combine everything – kick, step, lunge, lift back leg in back, swing forward to kick, and start again.

Don’t forget to include your upper body in your warm-up too. Keep your arms lifted or swing them while walking. Arm circles are a common gymnastics warm-up since they stretch and warm the shoulders and arms.

The video below offers a general example of a dynamic warm up stretch routine.

Yoga is also a good choice for your pre-gymnastics warm-up. Make sure to do a practice that incorporates the entire body and isn’t targeted at a certain muscle group.

Skills

Gymnastics skills are definitely the fun part of the workout! Learning them can be so much fun, however, you ignore your body in the process. Be mindful of any pains or discomforts and continue to breathe.

Rolls

A fundamental gymnastics skill, rolling can take on many forms and directions. Begin with forward rolls and log rolls, as these are both great for core strength. Even rolling in a tight ball position back and up, while not a typical gymnastics skill, is nice core strength training activity.

Backward rolls can be trickier, and something you may need to work towards. To learn a backward roll, fold a blanket or two or some towels so you have a raised surface to lay your back on. Let your head hang off of the blankets and reach your arms fully to the ground on the outside of your head. (Your shoulder flexibility may not allow this, if your rib cage rises high when you attempt it, work on more shoulder stretching). Lift your legs over to roll backward.

Stop at anytime you feel too much strain in your neck. Your goal is to lift your body up to take pressure off of your neck and head. The result is stronger arms and core.

Work on landing in a push-up position and, eventually, pushing up to a handstand!

If you want to get serious about improving your rolls you may want to consider investing in a gymnastics specific mat. The best gymnastics mats are the ones that help cushion and protect your neck and spine while you’re practicing skills such as forwards and backwards rolls.

Handstands

Handstanding is the core of any gymnastics strength training program! It provides amazing shoulder and arm strength, as well as core strength through the stabilization it requires. Holding a handstand without an aid can take years to achieve. However, using the wall for handstands doesn’t take away any of the benefits they provide!

Begin practicing handstands facing away from the wall. Put your hands down and walk your feet up as high as you can. You should be upside down, facing the wall now. To make it harder, walk your hands closer to the wall.  Suck your stomach in and hold this position as long as possible.

To try a gymnastics handstand, face the wall in a small lunge. Bring your hands down about a foot away from the wall, as your back leg rises up. The front leg should kick up to meet the first, trying to get your feet to rest on the wall in your handstand position.

In your handstand, suck your stomach in tight so you are not arching. Keep your shoulders broad and legs tight.

Play with your handstands by taking one foot away from the wall at a time, until you can take both away and balance. You can also practice without the wall. If you feel yourself falling over tuck your head and roll, or, if you have a solid bridge, land on your feet in a bridge!

Check out these 30 different types of handstand drills (and bookmark them to practice later!)

Backbends

Backbends can be great for spinal health, but only if done correctly. They stretch the whole front of the body and build strength in the shoulders, back, and arms. Since most adults tend to have misalignments in their hips or backs, go slow with backbends.

Laying on your stomach with arms straight out in front, bring your chest up to lift your arms as high as they can go. Keep your pelvis on the ground firmly. This will build your shoulder and back strength, while getting your spine ready to bend more.

Roll onto your back and bend your knees, placing your feet a bit further than hip width, on the ground. Bend your elbows to place your hands down by your shoulders and push your stomach slowly up. Go as far as you can, eventually getting your arms straight.

Once you can do a bridge easily you can practice other backbending skills. Being able to go into your bridge from standing, and standing up from a bridge are two of the most common variations. They both take a lot of core strength!

gymnastics training - gymnastics workout

Stretch

Since much of your dynamic stretching was done in the warm-up and skills, now is the time for static, relaxing stretching. Your body should be warm and loose and ready for a release now. Hold each stretch at least 30 seconds, longer if it is feeling good.

Pike

Begin with legs outstretched in front and reach for your toes. Stretch your spine straight (lengthen it) with each inhale, stretch deeper with each exhale. Try not to round your back. Bend your knees as much as you need until the stretch is possible for you with straight legs. Do your pike stretch with toes both pointed and flexed.

gymnastics training - gymnastics workout

Straddle

After your pike, straddle your legs as far apart as possible and do the same, stretching your spine on the inhale and deepening on the exhale.  Remember to keep your knees pointed up.

gymnastics training - gymnastics workout

Splits

Front splits are a coveted gymnastics stretch, but they are within reach if you add them to your normal gymnastics training program! Begin on your knees with one leg straight out in front. Slide that leg forward, staying on your back leg and hands at each side for support. Slide your front leg as far forward as you can without bringing your hips out of alignment.

Straddle Splits

Middle splits can be practiced by standing in a straddle position and sliding legs out while supporting yourself on your hands or elbows. A more relaxing way to practice them is by a wall. Lay down on your back up against a wall so that your bum is touching the wall and your legs are up against it vertically. Spread them into a straddle, using gravity to keep them down as far as they can go.

Shoulder Stretch

To create more shoulder flexibility, start on your hands and knees. Bring each arm down and out straight in front of you, so that you are down on your arms and forehead with your bum still in the air. If this is too difficult, bring your bum back to rest over your feet. If it feels good, you may be able to lift your head to rest on your chin. You should feel a stretch in your upper back and shoulders.

gymnastics training - gymnastics workout

You can also try the relaxing full body stretch routine below.

Finishing your gymnastics training workout

End every gymnastics training workout with whatever feels right to you. Often there’s an area we feel can use an extra stretch. Or, perhaps you finally stuck your handstands and have more energy to do a couple more! However you end, take care of your body so it will look forward to your next gymnastics training session.

gymnastics training - gymnastics workout

Are you into gymnastics training as well? Or would you like to get into it? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below – we’d love to hear from you!

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Leave a comment below to let me know what you think of this post.

Rebecca Carr

2 Comments

  1. Danny Moore

    Hello, This is Mr Danny Are you available for Gymnastics Training if “YES” Are you the owner and Do you accept credit cards?

    THANKS

    Reply
    • Elly McGuinness

      Hi Mr Danny,

      Thanks for your question. I offer online health and fitness coaching. As part of that we can incorporate gymnastics training into your plan. The coaching is carried out purely online. I have several years experience as a competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach so I can certainly help you reach your training goals. You can find out more about my 1:1 online fitness coaching packages here: https://ellymcguinness.com/work-with-elly/holistic-health-practitioner/

      Reply

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