Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, power, endurance and coordination. Female gymnasts compete on the balance beam, parallel bars, vault and floor. Male gymnasts compete on the rings, pommel horse, high bar and floor. Starting gymnastics can be challenging if you are out of shape, so you may want to improve your physical condition before you start taking gymnastics. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is the most effective way to get in shape, but you can also take steps to improve skills that are specific to gymnastics.
Achieve or maintain a healthy body fat by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Excess body fat acts as resistance and makes gymnastics exercises harder. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products is recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends participating in 30 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular activity every day, although you may need more exercise for health and weight management.
Improve the strength and endurance of your hands. Grip strength is important for exercises that require holding on to an apparatus, like the parallel bars and rings. Use a hand gripper, or performing weight lifting exercises while holding dumbbells, barbells or a bar.
Improve your upper body, lower body and core strength by participating in a resistance training program at least twice per week. Strong and coordinated muscles are necessary for every gymnastics event. A well-rounded strength training program includes exercises for each muscle group and all three planes of motion.
Achieve or maintain good flexibility by stretching at home or taking yoga class at least twice per week. Flexibility of the hips and back is necessary to get into the proper positions for gymnastics maneuvers. Poor flexibility can lead to injury. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends holding stretches at a moderate intensity for at least 30 seconds.
- "Essentials of Strength and Conditioning"; Thomas R. Baechle, et al.; 2008
- USA Gymnastics: Women's Gymnastic Event Descriptions
- USA Gymnastics: Men's Event Descriptions