Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Improving upper body strength for gymnastics competitions

Excellent upper body strength is critical to enhancing performance in gymnastics competitions, as well as in classes. This sport requires more upper body strength than most—many females have to do extra work to get to the level they need to be at in order to perform at their full potential.

Some gymnasts lift weights to develop their upper body. However, a safer and more effective route is through using your own body weight as resistance in strength training. Almost every school for gymnastics, whether in Torrance, the greater Los Angeles or some other part of the state, can show its students some great workouts for targeting the upper body. In the meantime, here are a few basic exercises that will help you build strength as well as balance.

Pushups—everyone’s favorite! While pushups seem very basic, they are extremely effective and work the entire upper body, including arms, shoulder, pectorals, back, upper arms, forearms and wrists. Make sure to keep your body completely straight and pull your abs in tight, towards your spine, when doing pushups.

Chin-ups. Chin-ups use gravity and body weight to improve endurance and strength in not only the upper body, but the core as well. This makes them one of the most efficient strengthening exercises of all. Doing chin-ups reduces workout time, making it possible to spend more time preparing for gymnastics competitions you plan to participate in.

Dips. The beauty of dips is that you can do them almost everywhere, from the gym or a bench to a chair or step. While the range of motion is small, this exercise works your triceps, as well as your shoulder, chest, lower back and biceps.

Pilates. Both reformer Pilates workouts and mat classes are great for training the smaller muscle groups using your own weight as resistance. They also help improve flexibility, which can prevent injury.

Handstand Pushups. These are more advanced, and therefore, should not be a solo mission when done for the first time—have a trainer spot you.  Handstand pushups target the shoulder, chest and arms.

You may want to consult with a coach or instructor at the school for gymnastics you or your child attends as to how to best build upon these basic moves and continue to enhance your skills.
image: thebeautybean.com