Acrobatic Exercises

Doing crunches and sit ups aren't the only way to get in shape. Flips, climbs, spins and other acrobatic moves can also yield the results you desire in an exercise regimen. Several sports such as gymnastics, pole dancing and parkour involve different types of acrobatic exercises. In addition to adding variation to your normal workout routine, acrobatic exercises can improve flexibility and build strength. And you don't need to be a trained acrobat to do some of them. Many acrobatic exercises are simple enough for beginners to learn.

A woman practicing acrobatics in a studio.
Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Somersaults

A somersault is an acrobatic move in which a person's body moves in a circular motion with feet passing over head. Somersaults are not only a beginner acrobatic move that helps improve flexibility but also a move that can assist with improving stability. Start with your feet tucked in a squat position, placing your hands on the ground at shoulder width apart. Tuck your head forward so your chin is in your neck and begin moving forward so your head is touching the ground. Follow the momentum, moving forward so you begin to roll with your back rounded.

Cartwheels

Cartwheels are an acrobatic exercise commonly found in gymnastics. It is a sideways rotary movement in which you travel to the ground while the body inverts and legs travel over the body to land in a standing position. Cartwheels are the foundation to more advanced flips practiced in acrobatic sports. Begin by doing a lunge with your favorite foot in the front while reaching your arms over your head. Follow by transferring your weight to your front leg, and place your hands on the ground one at a time. The first hand down should be the same side as the leg in front in the lunge. Kick your legs up in a handstand keeping your body sideways with your legs forming a "v-shape" in the air. Then bring your feet down in a split leg format, remembering that the first leg to come down is the last leg to go up.

Handstands

A handstand in which you balance on your hands with your feet up in the air is an acrobatic move often found in gymnastics, cheerleading, dance and even karate. It also a basic exercise that helps build the strength and core muscles that can be applied to more complex moves and tricks. Doing them can also strengthen your arms and shoulders. Handstands are much easier to learn while leaning against a wall. Begin by placing your hands about 6 inches from the wall. Then kick your feet up while pressing your head into the wall. Once you feel you are in a stabilized position, slowly move your legs away from the wall so they are not resting on it. Finally, move your head away and hold the position for a few seconds.

Aerial Silks

Aerial silk performances are often recognized as acrobatic exercises done in circus acts. However, it's now an acrobatic exercise that can be done in gyms. The exercise involves climbing two long pieces of fabric suspended from a high ceiling. While most moves involve being suspended at least 19 feet in the air, beginners won't make it past about 1 foot off the ground. A common beginner exercise involves pulling your body up from your hands similar to pullups on a bar. First hold the fabric and wrap it around your arms twice. Put your feet together and lift your legs to a 90-degree angle, using your core and arm strength.

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