Male gymnasts not only carry out seemingly impossible feats of strength during their routines, but also have the bodies of chiseled Greek gods. Oddly, if you want a body like a gymnast, you may not even need to lift a single barbell. This is because a majority of a male gymnast’s weight-training routine is done by performing advanced body-weight exercises that encourage maximum muscle contraction.
National Junior Gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer says male gymnasts get a majority of their upper-body strength from performing straight-arm exercises. This means performing weighted ring routine exercises like the iron cross and floor exercises like planche pushups. Other body-weight exercises used by male gymnasts include weighted dips, squat jumps, chin-ups and broad jumps.
Male gymnasts need a combination of explosive power and muscular endurance, and these require different types of exercise repetitions. According to Robert G. Price in “The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Gymnastics,” a moderate resistance exercise performed quickly for eight to 15 repetitions is best for explosive power. When training for endurance, the resistance of the exercise should be reduced and the repetitions increased to at least 20 slow and controlled movements.
Plyometric exercises are another body-weight training method that male gymnasts use to increase their power without bulking up. Examples of ploymetric exercises are box jumps, squat jumps and the medicine ball toss. Each exercise should be performed for at least 80 repetitions per session to build your body’s fast-twitch muscle fibers. Sports physiologist Phil Davies writes that you should not use these exercises the day following intense strength training.
Training your body like a male gymnast is an intense process that requires frequent workouts. Price advocates four weeks of endurance training, followed by four weeks of explosive power training. Exercise should be carried out four days a week, alternating between upper- and lower-body workouts. Also include one or two sessions of plyometrics each week as an addition or substitute for a weight training session.