Today I’m doing a list post about 6 things I think are essential for a great gymnastics conditioning workout. Most of these can apply to any conditioning or strength training workout so even if you’re not a gymnastics coach or gymnast this list is still for you!
With focus, you can make sure you are using the right muscles to perform your skills, and that you are moving from one set or exercise to the next quickly enough to keep your muscles warm and give them enough of a workout.
Since conditioning is something we do to improve our gymnastics skills and move up to higher levels, and not the main show of the sport, I understand why so many kids don’t like it and will even argue about why they are conditioning instead of practicing actual gymnastics.
Adding challenging work and setting goals for and keeping track of conditioning performance can get athletes more involved and more excited for conditioning.
Okay, so not all conditioning is going to be fun in a traditional sense but from time to time it really needs to be. Whether its in the form of a game, or maybe challenges between groups of students. Or just exercises that don’t seem like exercises. Mat flipping or block pushing, going through a fun but challenging circuit are just a few ways to add some fun moves to your routine.
Classic moves like rockers, chin-ups, and leg lifts have been a part of gymnastics conditioning for years–because they work! But I think its important to add in some different moves so that your athletes stay engaged and excited about workouts. And variety isn’t just about the moves but also the way you do the moves! There are so many ways to accomplish your strength goals!
You almost always needs to start with “why?” when picking conditioning moves. That’s why I chose the words “Purposeful Training, Boundless Growth” for my homepage. You wouldn’t have gymnasts do bicep curls when they’re working towards kips. Band pull-downs or stem rises would be a much more practical option. For most kids, knowing why they are doing certain exercises helps keep them motivated. Especially when they see the results in their gymnastics moves!
#6: Planning and Direction
For an adult, a lot of us could go into a gym, all on our own, and manage to have a pretty good workout without any prior plan and no personal trainer or coach. I can’t say the same for many of my athletes. It’s even a hard task fro adults to be that motivated!
So having at least somewhat of a plan and keeping your athletes (or yourself) accountable is super important.
I once watched an athlete do a set of 10 chin-ups. She split it up into 9 different sets. For 8 of those sets, she sloppily pulled herself up to the bar, then let go. One set she did a full chin-up, and then pulled up for a second one and let go.
So I asked her if she was proud of that set of chin-ups she just did (she didn’t know I was watching, I was being stealth and using mirrors). She said no, obviously and I asked her to go back and do 5 more, which she did. All in a row in like 30 seconds.
That’s an example of a kid who is not self-motivated and needs A LOT of encouragement to work at her full potential. And also demonstrates the need for supervision during conditioning at times when the kids may all be working on the same list at their own pace.
Okay, before I wrap this up, I want to list a few options for how to organize/run conditioning workouts for your athletes or yourself just to keep things interesting!
Timed Circuits: An exercise for each athlete (or have 2 or 3 at a station if you have many) and have them do that exercise for whatever amount of time you decide on.
Timed Exercises: Have all athletes do the same exercise for a certain amount of time.
Circuits for Reps: Each exercise in the circuit needs to be done a certain amount of times before moving on to the next. Not always a great idea if there is only one piece of equipment for an exercise and you have some slower kids.
All Together Conditioning: Exactly what it sounds like! Doing every exercise with everyone else, at the exact same time.
Conditioning Lists: Can work well with kids who are self motivated but this type of conditioning sometimes ends up with athletes cheating, or struggling with certain exercises. On the other hand, this kind of conditioning can allow a coach to work with the kids who are struggling while the others can work independently.
Partner Conditioning: This is a super fun way to workout and gets athletes way more involved. Click here to watch a quick example from the usamlt YouTube channel that I subscribe to and always find super helpful and inspiring!
Anyway, I hope this post was of some use to you! Before I finish I’ll also share a quick, full body (cardio included for once!) workout I did yesterday after work!
I did change it a little though. I did 10 one leg squats on each leg in my circuit which made it a little too leg intensive for a full body conditioning workout so I swapped those out for hollow body rockers, and a 30 second handstand!
Anyway, I would love to hear about what other people think are essentials for a great conditioning workout or any other ways to organize conditioning workouts (because there are a lot)! So comment below!
BONUS ESSENTIAL: (that I kind of forgot) Good form! Which should go without saying I guess in gymnastics especially. It’s important that for any strength training you stick to proper form (and pointed toes when necessary) for safety and so that you hit the right muscles in the right way!
Stay Fit and Love Gymnastics!
Thanks for reading, Much Love,