As a fitness trainer I prided myself on having a strong core. I did a fair amount of ab work, stability balls, isolated exercises, and I engaged my core during all of my full body workouts. And then I took a gymnastics/freestyle movement workshop with nakaathletics.com founder and coach and gymnasticswod.com founder Carl Pauli, who recently published Free+Style.
In the first hour, we were doing a hollow body hold, nothing fancy, just an extended core hold lying flat on your back. It was in this moment of shaking and burning, that I realized I had a lot to learn. The course went on to go over: handstand pushups, pistols (1 legged squats) and muscle ups (a pull up into a dip).
For the average person, these are more advanced gymnastic exercises but for gymnasts, they are considered easy. I think we can all imagine a gymnasts body; lean, muscular, defined and strong as hell. This could be you. You may not be bound for the Olympics, and you don’t need to be able to do an iron cross or a triple handspring in order to reap the benefits of gymnastics in your strength and conditioning program.
I’ve also gone through the crossfitgymnastics course, taught by elite gymnast, Dave Durante, which I highly recommend. I was able to learn many take aways that have helped me with my own personal fitness and that of my clients, from beginners to advanced. Here are some simple exercises that are fun and challenging. Practicing them consistently will have you making huge gains in strength, definition and confidence, that you'll be able to apply to all areas of your life.
Working to get your first quality pull up, push up, and squat are very worthwhile achievements, and working towards mastering them will afford you many benefits. Gymnastics will be corrective for muscular imbalances and weaknesses. It can also help you boost your strength to bodyweight ratio, which is a solid measure for health and injury prevention.
A quality gymnastics coach or program will stress the importance of slow progression, quality over quantity and always working to master form and technique before adding difficulty. So, whether you add gymnastics in your routine at the gym, at home or you’re able to find a good coach at a nearby fitness facility or a basic gymnastics class at a local gymnastics center, you'll gain many benefits from consistent practice of simple, but not easy exercises we all should have been doing since we were little tykes.
Just like any other program, don’t try it for a week and throw it out because you’re not ripped and doing flips on the rings. Give it 6-12 weeks of consistent effort at least 3x/week and you’ll be hooked, choosing to practice as part of a fun routine and developing your skills for years to come.
Don’t try the fancy hard exercises until you’ve laid the appropriate foundations.
Check out gymnasticwod.com and follow the tutorials, starting with part1 of course.