Gymnasts must possess excellent coordination, flexibility and muscular strength to perform exercises during competitions. While practicing gymnastic drills helps a gymnast become more coordinated and flexible while learning the proper steps and timing of a routine, strength training is especially important for performing exercises on beams, bars, rings and on the floor. A female gymnast must take time to develop her upper body and lower body strength, as well as core strength.
Strengthening the muscles of your core body, including your abdominal muscles and back, is vital for core strength and balance while performing exercises on a variety of apparatuses. However, perhaps more importantly, core strength helps prevent dangerous injuries to your back muscles, which could cause you to sit out a season of competition. Strengthen your abdominal muscles with traditional floor crunches, reverse crunches and twisting crunches, in which you twist from left to right as your chest approaches your knees. To strengthen various areas of your back, perform deadlifts, bent-over rows and shrugs with a barbell or two dumbbells.
Chest, Shoulders and Arms
For upper body strength, train your chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps with barbell weight or dumbbells. Begin your chest workout with bench presses, performed on a flat bench with either a barbell or two dumbbells. Incline the bench to perform inclined chest presses to strengthen your upper chest, and decline the bench to perform declined chest presses for your lower chest. Train your shoulders with military presses, front dumbbell raises and side lateral raises, all performed with a dumbbell in each hand. Finish your upper body workout with biceps curls, hammer curls, concentration curls, triceps kickbacks and triceps extensions. Biceps curls may be performed with either a barbell or dumbbell, while all other arm exercises must be performed with dumbbells.
Strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings and hips with lunges and squats. These exercises may be performed using only your body weight for resistance; however, as you physically progress, hold a barbell across your lower shoulders to build stronger, more powerful leg muscles. If you have access to strength training machines, perform leg extensions and leg curls. However, these two exercises are also possible with a single dumbbell. Sit on the edge of a chair holding a dumbbell between your feet and extend your legs until straight and parallel with the floor. To perform leg curls, lie on your abdomen with a dumbbell between your feet and curl the weight toward your buttocks. Finish your lower body workout with calf raises, in which you stand on the edge of a step and lower and raise your heels. Perform sets with your toes pointed inward, straight and outward to target your outer, central and inner calf muscles.
A female gymnast should train her entire body with weights at least twice a week. This may be completed in two total-body workouts, or can be divided into two upper body and two lower-body workouts. Be sure to allow at least 48 hours of rest for each muscle group between strength training sessions. For building larger, stronger muscles, train with heavier weights for less repetitions. As a female, remember that women's bodies are different and may respond differently to strength training. If you have a naturally muscular physique, you may build muscle faster than a woman with a naturally slender physique. Curvier women should implement more aerobic exercise to burn fat while training with weights.