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Strength Training For Gymnastics: Why Is It Important?

February 12th, 2023 | 4 min. read

Strength Training For Gymnastics: Why Is It Important?
Kayla Brook

Kayla Brook

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // Dry Needling Certified // Orthopedic Certified Specialist // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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We all know the strength required to participate in a sport like gymnastics, but how do gymnasts develop strength? What is their normal workout routine? When you think of these workouts, weightlifting may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Gymnasts must be incredibly agile - they can’t be too bulky by lifting heavy and still perform at a high level, right? This thought process is a common myth throughout the gymnastics community, but in reality, weight training can be instrumental in staying healthy, preventing injury, and promoting the longevity of a gymnast’s career. But what would this look like, and how would you have the time to fit it into an already-packed training schedule? 


It is possible for gymnasts to incorporate weight training into their normal fitness routine and still practice optimal amounts  - it takes a skilled professional and a sport-specific approach, which is what our gymnastics specialists offer at EW Motion Therapy. We’ll discuss what strength training can and should look like for gymnasts, answering the following questions: 


  1. Why is strength training important for gymnasts? 
  2. What about endurance training? 
  3. What is the best strength training for gymnasts? 
  4. How could a physical therapist help with strength training? 


Why is strength training important for gymnasts? 

Gymnastics is a grueling sport that requires significant demands on the body. Each skill performed involves the body absorbing excessive force. Multiple repetitions of these high-impact skills define the entire sport. Studies have shown that tumbling can cause a ground reaction force of up to 14x a gymnast’s weight on their legs with landings and dismounts can distribute anywhere from 18-30x their body weight through the lower body. Not only do gymnasts have to handle this pressure, they often do an average of approximately 200 impacts during a single practice when training for all four events. With the force and repetition unique to the sport, gymnasts must work outside of practice to ensure their bodies are strong enough to handle the constant stress. 


Finding the right gym is essential to any gymnast's success. Read our lineup of the best-reviewed gyms in Birmingham here.


Strength training and endurance 

Along with strength, all gymnasts need endurance to continue to perform their skills at their optimal level. In the past, many gymnasts focused on conditioning with only bodyweight workouts to improve endurance. Now, there is a significant push among many experts to incorporate weight training to aid in this. Many gymnasts have found that incorporating weights 2-3 days per week has helped increase their load capacity, which is essential for advancing and performing more complex skills at higher repetition. Incorporating this will not cause a gymnast to  “bulk up” as it will be utilized in conjunction with current conditioning. Instead, it will assist in improving endurance, increasing the body's stamina for higher repetitions, assisting in injury prevention, and aiding in skill progression.


What is the best strength training for gymnasts? 

Bodyweight workouts are still vital, but there are many benefits of transitioning to a hybrid, sport-specific training model that includes weight training. This model can help you improve technique, increase the ability to train more complex skills, and can help increase repetitions of skills and routines, which can benefit the athlete in and out of competition season. 


The training model for each gymnast will vary based on the athlete, their level, the skills they need to improve, and the hours they spend training per week. For example, if a gymnast wants to improve their back handspring and they already spend 15 hours per week training with their competition team, they could incorporate weights two days per week to help strengthen their arms and shoulders to improve the power of their block.


How could a physical therapist help with strength training? 

Now you know more about how a gymnast could incorporate strength training into their routine. Your coach, conditioning coordinator, or doctor would be a good person to ask for recommendations tailored to your specific needs. However, if you have a previous injury or an ongoing condition, it might be helpful to talk with a physical therapist, specifically a gymnastics movement specialist. They can work with your coach to develop a strength training routine based on your current training schedule and the skills you need to improve. They are the perfect professionals to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and competition. With your plan in place, you can train in strength and endurance while preventing injury and avoiding burnout. 


Having the right physical therapist in your corner can be instrumental for your gymnastics career. Our gymnastics team at EW Motion Therapy can help you work on specific skills, recover from or prevent injury, and promote stability and strength with a sport-specific, whole-body approach. If you’re curious about what our gymnastics program could do for you, click the button below to fill out our self-assessment and see if our program fits your needs. 


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