Core strength in a gymnast

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This applies to mainly WAG optionals, upper L6s and any gymnast that is on an excellerated program. Anyone can chime in...

Amongst many other traits, gymnasts are known for their extraordinary strength. Some are more strong in the upper body and others are in the lower body. Now, what about the core? How do you feel gymnasts' core's condition is when it is compared to those of other upper level athletes -- especially those play sports that require super strong cores -- when it comes to not only strength but agility (which is different than flexibility) as well?
 
Aug 2, 2008
322
east coast
A strong core is ESSENTIAL. It keeps the upper & lower parts of a gymnasts body together. Its my experience that kids that have a problem w/ being loose have either a weak core or have not learned how to keep their core tight. We condition just the core (stomach, back, sides of body and glutes), just like we do legs or upper.

Having a strong core also helps prevent injury. I'm not sure to how it compares to other sports, but I dont think there are too many kids sports where 8-9 year olds have a six pack! My gymnasts are laways so proud of how they blow away the other kids in the phyical fitness testing at school! haha
 
Mar 5, 2008
2,233
North America
I agree that core strength is essential in many sports. My dd started out in cheerleading and conditioning and core strength was emphasized. Dani very quickly learned how important core strength was when she became a flyer. Balance and core strength are so important in order to stay up in the air. I think her core strength really helped with the switch to gymnastics and it shows in her beam work. She does a really high heel stretch up by her ear and then lets go into a free stretch for about 3 seconds. Gotta have strong abs to hold that stretch!! I think I have a picture of it in my photos section on this site if anyone is interested.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
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Jan 21, 2007
4,559
Baltimore, MD
Core strength is where much of your power comes from on floor, and where almost all of it comes from on bars. It is absolutely essential.
 
D

Deleted member D3987

i think you meant accelerated.

core strength is paramount in every sport. the core is what provides foundational stability to rest of the parts. this is precisely why ALL children should receive their root physical education in gymnastics.
 
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OK. I hear what everyone has to say so far. And, I agree. How about when it comes to agility? I mean the ability to quickly act on or react in tight situations. In particular, I'm curious about whether everyone here thinks an ordinary strong gymnast has enough to go from a mostly pike/tuck position into an upright and back on demand (multiple times) while the body is moving up to 40/50 mph (or higher). My understanding is lots of superman helps to condition for this situation. Of course, there is no such thing as too much core strength for a everyday gymnast.

i think you meant accelerated.
Yeah, my bad. I actually thought about this afterward but it was already too late to edit.
 

gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
OK. I hear what everyone has to say so far. And, I agree. How about when it comes to agility? I mean the ability to quickly act on or react in tight situations. In particular, I'm curious about whether everyone here thinks an ordinary strong gymnast has enough to go from a mostly pike/tuck position into an upright and back on demand (multiple times) while the body is moving up to 40/50 mph (or higher). My understanding is lots of superman helps to condition for this situation. Of course, there is no such thing as too much core strength for a everyday gymnast.

Being able to recruit muscle power (well this is my understanding) has more to do with muscle composition. Being strong in those positions is important, because there is a connection between the neurons firing and you need to maintain the most efficient shapes in order to use the equipment well and accelerate or maintain power in the skill.

Most high level gymnasts are better sprinters and jumpers than endurance runners, because they have a lot of fast twitch muscle, relatively. This enables the muscles to "fire" in fast, short bursts that do a lot of work, but they tire out more quickly.

I'm not sure what skill you mean...a double back? This is not something most kids who start competitive gymnastics or even finish compulsories will get, so I guess in that sense "ordinary strong" isn't enough. But if a kid is strong and able enough to get a lot of the beginning optional skills, I tend to think most of them, if they want it, could build the strength component for it. Now other issues come into play obviously, the mental component or bad habits that contribute to poor technique (so this is where being strong in the correct positions and body aware to recognize and apply them would come in again, I guess).

We need to use a lot of exercises to condition for these movements...stretching and snapping. When twisting is added, need to be able to maintain tight shape there too, side core conditioning. Turning on bars. I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of conditioning isn't "formal" by any means, but I try to more or less figure it out from those who know more, because there's an efficiency thing to this. Shawn Johnson's coaches apparently have great knowledge of efficient body prep. Obviously we're not all training for the olympics and don't need to be super efficient, but it's still pretty important and can make the difference between the same training hours and better gymnastics.
 
B

BlairBob

Compared to other sports, I doubt gymnasts have their equals when it comes to core strength in other sports. There might be some other elite athletes that could contend but as a whole, I doubt it.

Some sprinters and olympic lifters and wrestlers may be able to have the same core strength. Maybe.

I could say acrobats, but most acrobats are former gymnasts so that's not really a different type of athlete.
 
Mar 20, 2009
257
Sprinters and Olympic Lifters are great examples for core strength (I coach sprint and olylifting). However, most gymnasts I know do as good as these athletes do. Boxers are great, too. And professional ballett dancers.
 
I want to thank everyone for your inputs.

Gymdog, I think in particular that is the feedback that I was looking for. It was very insightful.
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And no, it's not a double back that I was referring to. Let's just say it's about how an active gymnast can apply her strength and ability (a girl in this case) towards another sport.
 
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gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
Oh, rowing? I have a couple friends from gym now doing crew. Again there's kind of the endurance thing but that can be developed, and most gymnasts or former gymnasts do seem to have much more developed strength and muscular power than your average former (not elite) athlete, anecdotally. Especially for females, the upper body strength is a big thing. That's partly genetic, girls gymnastics is self selecting of those girls with the ability to build above average upper body strength for the most part. But there's also a huge development and maintenance of it.

Gymnastics is a great foundation in order to improve athletic ability. Although of course it's not going to correct all weaknesses. For example, I seem to lack some sort of depth perception or finer motor coordination required for any ball sports. It's pretty hopeless. But there's a lot of sports I could transfer skills too...you see a lot of gymnasts move into track events, or rowing, or equestrian sports. They can make the transition. And of course some do have the athletic ability for soccer, softball, basketball, etc. Although a surprising amount seem to just not have "it" for those sports, I'm not sure what's up with that, it's a very curious thing to me.
 
Mar 5, 2008
2,233
North America
And of course some do have the athletic ability for soccer, softball, basketball, etc. Although a surprising amount seem to just not have "it" for those sports, I'm not sure what's up with that, it's a very curious thing to me.

LOL--my dd is one of those kids that just can't handle ball sports. She will run full speed at a stationary object (the vault) but when it comes to catchng a ball coming at her---forget about it! Her one classmate one year used to tease her and say "You can do all those gymnastics things, but you can't hit a volleyball???" I find that very amusing in a curious way as well. I often wonder if all those years of turning cartwheels and doing crunches in gymnastics somehow under-developed her eye-hand coordination of ball throwing and catching. :rolleyes: :confused: Funny, eh???
 
Oh, rowing? I have a couple friends from gym now doing crew.
Actually, you're close!
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But on a frozen surface and on a slope. Speed events (SG for her age) in particular. The core strength and agility as well as endurance is absolutely essential.

In all seriousness, maybe rowing isn't too far off when it comes to required attributes based on what you have described. Maybe that's why some of the athletes from our club went on to be professional/competitive oarsmen/oarswomen. One of whom just came back from Pejing with an Olympic Gold (her second medal overall).

Gymnastics is a great foundation in order to improve athletic ability.
I totally agree -- at least for the most part. Incidentally, I think gymnasts make tremendous slalom skiers because of the precision, quickness, coordination, body positioning/awareness and endurance that are involved. (For those who don't know, SL is a very technical event) The advantage is pretty evident with my two. Of course, those gymnasts have to like the cold too.

I often wonder if all those years of turning cartwheels and doing crunches in gymnastics somehow under-developed her eye-hand coordination of ball throwing and catching. :rolleyes: :confused:
Now that is funny!!!
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I have two that are the same way. Nevermind catching the ball. How about throwing it? ...If you can call that throwing.
 
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