Can you train like a gymnast?

Do you know what it takes to train like a professional athlete? Here’s a look into the time, dedication, and sheer will it takes to be a gymnast.

Professional gymnasts stand high on the list of the most athletic people in the world. They master everything from strength, power, flexibility, coordination, agility, and conditioning. Their skills (and the amount of training needed to develop them) are stunning. Let’s break it down.

What It Takes

First and foremost, competitive gymnasts work hard to stay at peak health. That means keeping their bodies fueled with enough sleep and nutritious foods and drinks, as well as staying away from substances, like marijuana, that can harm their coordination, movement, reflexes, or general physical performance.

And this lifestyle’s not just for fun. It can vary, but many elite gymnasts train for a MINIMUM of 30 hours A WEEK. MINIMUM. Even more so if you reach that Olympic level.

They Do What Now?

Think gymnasts only train around things like tumbling, jumping, or aerobatics? Nope. Even some of the most basic moves are going to require full body workouts. It’s focused. It’s intense (but safe). And it basically makes them the Energizer Bunny when it comes to doing the most in long practices and competitive meets.

STEP ONE: Stamina and Strength

After so much stretching, most gymnasts begin with something that gets their hearts pumping and builds stamina. Like jogging, sprinting, or bike riding.

STEP TWO: Core Conditioning

Being able to pull and push yourself in different directions, like gymnasts do, requires mind-blowing core strength. That’s where workouts come in like crunches, planks, handstands, and planches—when they hold their bodies above the floor, parallel to ground with their arms straight.

STEP THREE: Body-Weight Training

When going for a stunt like the Tkachev Salto (we recommend Googling it), you’re working against your own body weight—making body-weight exercises very important. Think pullups, handstand pushups, and squats to get those muscles growing throughout your entire body.

Give It a Try

First, you have got to keep it safe. Remember:

  • Stretch before and after
  • Do 5-10 minute warm ups and cool downs
  • Start slowly and boost your activity level gradually
  • Listen to your body and stop when you’re feeling sick or fatigued
  • Drink plenty of water and, on hard days, choose drinks that replace fluids plus essential electrolytes
  • Wear the right clothes
  • Use light weights when learning new exercises
  • Be careful of overheating and dehydration—watch for signs, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, faintness, or cramps
Pike-ups

Get into plank position on your forearms—keeping your body parallel to the floor. Then, lift your buttock up and move your toes closer to your body until you’re in an upside-down V.

Hold for 5 seconds, then return to plank for 5 seconds.

Superman pulses

Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Keep your head and neck straight, facing the floor.

While holding your arms and legs in straight, unlocked positions, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling, several inches off the floor. Hold for 2 to 5 seconds and lower back down to complete one.

Hollow hold

Lying flat on your back, squeeze your ankles together while simultaneously squeezing your arms next to your ears. Press your lower back into the floor as you lift your arms and feet off the ground—creating a crescent moon shape. From this position, you can begin rocking from head to feet and back.

Pancake

Sit with legs spread as far as possible, with back straight, lift arms and lower your chest to the floor (or as far as you can go). Hold for 20 seconds.

Bridge

Lie on your back. Put your hands at your sides, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor under your knees. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.

Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders, while tightening your core muscles. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your starting position.

Jefferson curl

Stand on a stable, elevated surface—like a box. Hold a weight in your hands and stand up tall with your legs straight and together.

Begin the movement by tucking your chin into your chest. Then, slowly continue to round your back slowly. As you curl, feel the weight “pull” you lower towards the floor. Your entire spine should have one uniform curve to it.

While focusing on tightening your core muscles, sink as low as you can—keeping your legs completely engaged. Reverse the movement by uncurling the spine beginning with the low back first.

Side plank pulses

Start in a side plank position with your elbow placed on the floor instead of your palm. Lower your hips slightly, and then lift your hips back up. Remember to keep your muscles tight, especially your core.

Box jumps

Find a strong box and start small. Stand in front of the box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend into a quarter squat and swing your arms back, then swing them forward and jump off the ground.

Land on the box as softly as possible, mimic your take-off position on landing—feet flat and knees slightly bent. Then jump back down. Again, trying to land as softly as you can.

You can also step down one leg at a time, which will work the glutes even more while you work on bettering your balance.

And that’s just a sample…

It takes time and dedication to pursue a dream in athletics, but you can do it if you really set your mind to it. Regular exercise, nutritional eating, and avoiding things like marijuana use isn’t just great for gymnasts­—it can keep us all healthy and feeling good.