Health and performance are interrelated to each other. We should be in a good physical (inner and outer) condition so we can train and achieve our optimum athletic performance. Likewise, undergoing training for better athleticism can, in turn, put you in good health.

Most of us lift loads to train. Have you heard about weights for mobility too? Gymnasts tend to use weights to gain mobility, increase flexibility, enhance strength for full ranges of motion, and prevent injuries. This fitness routine is called gymnastic strength training and listed down are its three sample exercises.

The Jefferson Curl

In gymnastics, it is common to flex your spine often. Even so, this instance may result in unstable hamstrings that affect the mobility of your knees, calves, and ankles. There are training that you can do to avoid injuries, though. One example is Jefferson Curl.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Stand upright on an elevated surface (e.g., bench or with weighted bar)
  2. Your chin comes down
  3. Keep your pelvis tucked under
  4. Slowly round (one vertebra at a time) your back forward starting from your cervical spine to at least hands under the feet
  5. Keep the load  on the balls of your feet
  6. Slowly return (one vertebra at a time) from the forward flexed position

In general, the Jefferson Curl  can:

       Lengthen your hamstrings and the spinal muscles
       Enhance flexibility in your hamstrings
       Strengthen your posterior chain
       Increase the movement options or control of spinal mobility
       Improve back health under load
       Result in a supple, strong, and mobile body

Further, are you having a sedentary lifestyle? Have you been hunching over electronic devices that made you stayed seated for a long time? Let me guess. You have a weak and sore back, haven’t you? This condition can lead to posterior weakness. It’ll inevitably cause chronic pain in your neck and lower back.

As shown above, the Jefferson Curls can aid in the stable progression of your overall spinal mobility. By increasing your hamstrings’ mobility and strengthening your posterior chain, it may be able to cure back pain. If done properly, it would potentially prevent possible spinal joint compensation from excessive flexion of the spine, such as desk work and overstretching.

The Hollow Body Hold

The Hollow Body Hold is one of the basic positions in gymnastics. It allows any doer of it to properly transfer force from their upper body to their lower body without draining your energy.

It doesn’t require any equipment. Also, it can be modified, depending on a person’s fitness level and unique skills. Nevertheless, one missed or improperly done step can lead to lower back and neck discomfort.

Here’s how you do it:

1.      Lie on your back

2.      Pull your knees up toward your chest

3.      Press your lower back into the floor

4.      Lift your head and upper back a few centimeters (like doing a crunch)

  1. Extend your legs outward and your arms overhead
  2. Hold that position for 10 seconds, then rest and repeat

Further, if you want someone or “something” to guide you over without going to the gym, there are many advanced intelligent fitness systems that can assist you. One example is the Tonal’s technology. It’s an interactive home gym that can provide you guided workouts, including specific sets and reps. You have to raise the attached pulleys when raising your legs.

Despite its simplicity, it’s a full-body exercise. It engages your core, arms, legs, and entire back. The difficulty is always pressing your lumbar spine or lower back against the ground for a long time. It becomes more challenging when there is a further extension of both your arms and legs from your core.

A strong hollow body position is an essential component for those who are aiming for high-level gymnastics strength. It is because a fully extended position can generate a load or weight that might be too extreme for other people. Try to execute a perfect 45-degree position and hold it longer to get a better result. In no time, you’ll surely get a strong and stable core.

Superman or Arch Body Hold

Another way to strengthen your core is to perform superman or arch body hold. Its main purpose is to for you to know any weakness on your posterior chain. Many individuals have chronic tight frontal body parts. How? The exercise can empower your posterior chain, chest, and hip flexors.

Like the Hollow Body Hold, it is also a total body workout. In general, it can strengthen your lower and upper back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. However, its position is the total opposite of The Hollow Body Hold.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Lie face down on the ground
  2. Place both of your arms out straight overhead
  3. Place both of your legs out straight behind you
  4. Relax your muscles
  5. Make sure your neck should be in a neutral position
  6. Raise your chest and legs off the ground like how superman does when flying
  7. Squeeze your shoulders, back, and glutes, while doing step number seven
  8. Keep your hands and legs straight
  9. Don’t bend your knees
  10. Hold for ten seconds, then repeat

If you can do a full superman position, that’s great! Otherwise, take it easy. You can start with raising fewer limbs or lift your right arm and left leg at once and vice versa. If you want something harder, you can try hefting your limbs just on one side of your body. It is one of the ways to emphasize the possible imbalance in your core muscles, as well. 

For gymnasts, superman improves their ability in controlling their core and torso during muscle-ups, kipping motions, and static holds. What is more, since you are going to do strong muscle contractions, you’ll be able to keep rigid flexion and torso extension. This ability can lead to better control and stability for dynamic gymnastic movements.

Takeaway

Nowadays, people wanted to get instant results and immediate gratification when working out. Having shortsighted, impatient efforts will result in insufficient and poor-quality outputs, as well as possible physical injuries. It is because you’ll get out the same thing that you put in.

That will not do in gymnastics strength training. Its greatest advantage isn’t related to physical ability nor body structure. It is more into someone’s approach and mindset. You’ll be closer to success when you prioritize mastery and quality.


Written by Kenny Kline


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