Amazing Gymnastic Strength Videos…

This video shows the raw strength of gymnasts (developed mostly via bodyweight exercises).

If you’re interested in more, Dragon Door publications has a comprehensive article about building strength for gymnastic tension exercises. The focus for gymnasts is body tightness, since a tightly contracted body is easier to move than a relaxed body. Almost all gymnastic (especially static gymnastic moves like the iron cross) involve isometrics. It’s interesting to note that in both of these videos, despite the obvious strength of these athletes, they are not particularly bulky. They have superb control of their bodies not to mention an incredible amount of explosive power. Below are some gymnastic strength exercises taken from the Dragon Door article:

Gymnastics Strength Moves

Front Lever

The front lever is a strength move that is performed on the still rings. It can also be practiced at home on a pull-up bar. Begin from an inverted hang (you hang upside down with a straight body with your hips by your hands). Make a very tight grip, tuck your pelvis to assume the hollow position, squeeze your abs and glutes, tighten your legs, and point your toes. Begin to slowly lower your body maintaining the hollow position and keeping your arms straight throughout. Consciously tense your armpits and isometrically (without any actual movement) pull downwards (towards the bar or rings) and inwards (towards the front of your body) with your hands (activating your lats and your chest). Your upper body will naturally shift backwards to establish your center of gravity. Begin with a small range of motion and work towards holding a horizontal position.


A planche is a strength movement where you assume a push-up position with your feet off the floor (feet parallel to the ground or higher). The gymnast holds his body in this position. This movement can be performed on rings, the floor, or parallel bars. I would suggest doing this on rings or bars because of the strength enhancing effects of gripping the apparatus and it is not as hard on your wrists. It will also allow you to hold the planche in lower positions as you are working up to parallel or higher. Begin by holding yourself up on rings or bars. Squeeze the rings or bars and lean forward. Assume a slight arch position by lifting your heels, tensing your glutes and your lower back muscles. This will help raise your lower body to the proper position. Lean as far forward as you can without falling. While lowering yourself isometrically push your hands upward (as if you are trying to raise your straight arms over your head) and outwards (away from your body) tensing your shoulders, upper back, and chest.

Methods of working up to the Planche

  1. Initially perform in tuck position with your knees pulled to your chest. Straighten your legs a little when you are able to hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds. The progressions can be: tight tuck, partial tuck, straddled legs, and legs together.
  2. Begin in push-up position with your feet supported by a chair, step, etc. that is the same height or higher than your shoulder. Lean forward employing all of the tension techniques. You will begin to feel the pressure of your feet on the supporting object decrease. The goal is to lift and hold the feet completely off the object.

Iron Cross If you do not have a set of rings, you can perform crosses on chairs. Find two chairs whose seats are the same heights. You will need to tuck or hold your straight legs out in front of your body. Place the chairs so that they are facing the same direction. Start with the chairs close together (just wide enough for you to fit your upper body between them). Place your upper arms on the chairs and lift your feet. Gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise by moving the chairs further away from each other. All of these will be done in the final position of the cross.

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