This is the third article in our “Fitness Fundamentals” series, so far we’ve addressed Nutrition, and conditioning. These articles are for those just starting a health and fitness journey who need simple actionable advice to start improving right away. For those whom fitness is already an active part of their lives, fundamentals are something that should be revisited consistently to make sure the foundation of our hard work remains solid in support of our goals.
Today we address “Gymnastics” basically learning how to to control and move our own bodies through space. It’s important to distinguish between competitive gymnastics and gymnastic as it pertains to fitness training. For most the high level skills displayed in competitive gymnastics are not necessary for fitness, however we do want to emulate the physical qualities competitive gymnasts have perfected. We’ll define those qualities as flexibility, body control, and upper body strength.
You’ll hear flexibility called many names in fitness circles (mobility, increased range of motion, etc.) but we simply want people to maintain the ability to freely move your joints and muscles without significant limitation. For most their current work environment is actively reducing their flexibility and ability to correctly perform simple natural movements like squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, and pulling. A consistent routine of stretching and performing the above movements.
Maintain and developing flexibility is best done with day to day consistency. The best source we’ve found for this is call ROMWOD. They offer a short 15-20 minute flexibility session daily.
Not only should we be able to move our muscles and joints freely we also need to be able to control those movements to ensure they’re effective and safe. Body control is simply the ability of your of your body to do exactly what your brain tell is to do. The way gymnast obtain this skill is with load of tempo and isometric work. In layman’s terms that means moving in and out of positions slowly and holding positions for extended periods of time. Tempo work can be applied to any of the above mentioned movement patterns (squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, and pulling) to develop effective body control. Additionally using core exercises such as hollow holds and hollow rocks help one develop the ability to coordinate the upper body and lower body to work well together.
Next time you’re training try adding a 3 second descent and 3 second pause at the bottom or top of your movements. Notice the increase in difficulty and intensity that a little extra “control” adds to any given movement.
Upper Body Strength
Lastly let’s talk quickly about the importance of upper body strength. Most men spend years of their youth focusing on bench press numbers at the cost of developing adequate pulling and pressing strength. Meanwhile many female gym goers shy away from upper body work in fear of looking bulky. Utilizing fundamental gymnastic movements helps create well balanced upper body strength as well as an aesthetically pleasing upper back physique.
Here’s a quick upper body training with the goal of achieving 1 strict pull-up.
Day 1 –
3 sets of 8-12 banded pull-ups (enough band tension to do 8 but no more than 12)
2 sets of 10-15 RIng Rows or Horizontal pull-ups
Day 2 – Rest
Day 3 –
3 sets of 3 Negative Pull-ups: Jump your chin up above the bar and lower yourself for 5 seconds.
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 –
6 sets of 3 banded pull-ups (less band tension than day 1)
3 set of :10-30 Hang from the Pull-up bar.
Thanks for stopping in! Our next installment we will discuss weightlifting and barbell training!