Gymnastics requires strength, flexibility and body awareness. It is a complex sport that is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional in a properly-equipped facility. If you're new to gymnastics and want to learn the basics of the sport, seek out a class for beginners or visit a local gym during open hours to consult with a trainer. Watching instructional videos at home can be an informative and a practical way to supplement your training, but will not give you direct feedback from a coach while attempting new skills.
Preparing Yourself and Your Environment
For newcomers to gymnastics, safety is a primary concern. Wearing workout clothing that doesn't restrict your movement in any way is essential. If you don't own a gymnastics leotard, gym shorts and a fitted T-shirt are suitable substitutes. Hazardous jewelry, such as hoop earrings, bracelets and necklaces pose safety risks, and chewing gum or eating during your workout are also taboo. A safe home workout space is clear of furniture and dangerous objects, and a good-quality gym mat provides stability and reduces the risk of injury.
Strength training is an important element of gymnastics, according to gymnastics trainer Roger Harrell, so exercises that build strength should figure prominently in your home workout. Push-ups, pull-ups, planks, lunges, V-ups and arch-ups can increase muscle mass in your arms, back, abdominals and legs. Because such exercises require nothing more than your own body weight, they are generally suitable for beginners and can be performed at home.
Your gymnastics workouts should include exercises that promote full-body flexibility. Flexibility training can improve your overall athletic performance and reduce the likelihood of gymnastics-related injury, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. Neck, shoulder and back stretches will improve the quality and increase the safety of your backbends and rolls, and stretching your leg muscles will help you develop your forward-facing and side-facing splits. Taking time to stretch your wrists, ankles and feet increases joint range of motion, which contributes to aesthetics and helps prevent joint strain.
Basic gymnastics skills include forward and backward rolls, cartwheels, backbends and handstands. When you visit your local gymnastics facility and perform these skills, a trainer can offer feedback to confirm that your alignment and technique are sound. When you work out at home, recalling the trainer's feedback and working with a knowledgeable, experienced spotter will help you improve your skills and avoid injury.
If you're beginning your gymnastics training as an adult, you can avoid feelings of frustration by maintaining reasonable expectations. You might not be able to achieve the same level of flexibility as your younger peers, and it might take you longer to master new skills. Harrell points out that, as an adult, your risk of injury might also be greater. Working conscientiously and following a safe, progressive program will lead to a gradual increase in your skill set over time. Preceding every gymnastics workout with an appropriate warmup and avoiding any skills that cause you pain will help minimize the risk of injury.