Select Page
GLORIA SUMMER TRAINING

GLORIA SUMMER TRAINING

Off-season training is the best opportunity to develop strength in AGG for a variety of reasons.

Every team has a different approach, and all of them have pros and cons.

The following is what works for Gloria, last season bronze at the Finnish nationals and this year transitioning to women’s category. Keep reading.

 

The Summer

Firstly, notice that during summer gymnasts are well rested -no high school- and in a better mood than usual: Sun in Finland!

Opportunities to increase intensity without risking injury are rare; therefore I try to seize this moment.

In-season, lack of time for strength training and high academic stress is the norm.

However, if you build a strong base in summer, you can maintain most of it during the season.

Trying to improve both choreography and strength won’t play out well: one ass cannot sit on two horses.

Furthermore, as gymnasts grow older, they accumulate injuries. Some are forced to retire early or train in constant pain.

Gloria has been successful in the past at avoiding injuries, but the best prevention is always getting stronger. Read on.

 

What we do

One month of running in the park and home stretching-only is better than nothing, but you will lose any previous strength levels if you avoid resistance training altogether.

Knowing this, I keep “open gym” training during the holidays, where the gymnasts come to build their strength to get ahead before next season.

Most families will not be four full weeks on vacation, so there is no reason to avoid strength training if the gymnasts are in the city.

 

Stick to the basics

I don’t like wasting valuable athlete’s time, so I stick to exercises that are tried and true.

Warmups start with a potent dose of glute “activation” (hip thrusts, mini-band walks) and a combination of unilateral exercises and core stability.

To assess readiness, you can ask them how are they feeling that day, but pay attention to their facial expressions and their quality of movement during warm-up.

Some gymnasts will never say if something is hurting or if they didn’t sleep last nite, so you need to read between the lines.

If everything’s on point, the main workout consists of a combination of back-to-back pushing and pulling exercises: safety back squats, barbell presses, bench presses, hang power cleans, push presses, rows, trap bar deadlifts…

We keep track of every weight on every set on a blackboard and progress weekly.

When it comes to back strength, I have had success with a variety of exercises, but now I stick to seal rows and pull-ups.

The reason? They are harder to screw up. Gymnasts typically have hyperlordosis and need exercises where their backs can’t extend while still being able to train heavy safely.

Pull-ups with proper form are always a good idea (no kipping, slow descent and a full range of motion), but they require consistency.

If a competitive gymnast can’t get a single pull-up, you may want to rethink your training plan or pay more attention to the diet.

Other than the barbell exercises, I like to add flywheel training to the mix and improve their eccentric strength.

For those that have never tried it, imagine a force that violently pulls you down unless you push in the opposite direction.

Research consistently shows that flywheel training reduces injuries and improves power and strength better than traditional lifting, so we would be dumb not to use it.

 

Jumps and Conditioning

The notion that you improve just by jumping is 100% wrong unless you are completely untrained.

However, hops and jumps in a variety of planes of motion will have an injury prevention effect, and it will show you who is strong and who isn’t.

I try to fit these during warm-ups because landing on a single leg when fatigue has already kicked in can have ugly consequences.

Beware of gymnasts with a history of ankle sprains: once somebody tears the ligaments, the likelihood of it happening again is very high.

On top of this, gymnasts have an aerobic plan to do on their own. Instead of going too fancy, I try to use the KISS system (keep it simple, stupid).

A combination of intervals and endurance running will do enough for them during the period.

The goal is not to build a marathoner’s engine, but to slightly increase their maximal oxygen consumption to a level where you don’t gas out while training your choreography.

 

Summing up

The summer is long, and there is plenty of time for ice cream, family, and friends, but it’s not an excuse to get out of shape.

If you want to win, your actions need to match your ambitions.

Focus on the only thing that you can control: your effort.

HOW TO JUMP SKY HIGH

HOW TO JUMP SKY HIGH

Most people make it way too complicated, but it is straightforward.

Below are the 3 things that will help gymnasts jump higher.

 

Lose extra weight

Parents are worried about girls eating too little and ending up anorexic.

However, at least in Finland, the problem usually is that girls are overweight for AGG.

Not overweight for the average girl off the street.

I said overweight for AGG.

A sport that even has the word “aesthetic” in the name and that gets more and more competitive every year.

The problem is too much fat (dead weight) and too little muscle (useful for force production).

If you need to lose some body fat, do it the painful way: SLOWLY.

If you want to perform like an athlete, you must eat like an athlete.

 

Put more force into the ground

The easiest way to do this is by improving your maximal and sub-maximal strength inside the gym.

Notice that a year or two of serious training is a minimum time to do this.

If you try to do this on your own, you will end up injured or overtrained.

Get an experienced coach that can show you the basics of strength training.

It will be money well invested.

 

Put force into the ground quicker

If you already are strong, you may not need to spend much time lifting heavy.

Instead, you can spend more time doing plyometrics (jumps with a short stretch-shortening cycle) and lifting in “speed-strength” velocities, where the load on the barbell is between 30% and 60% of your one repetition maximum.

If you are lifting with light loads, move the barbell as quickly as possible on the way up as if you were to take off like a rocket.

If you are training plyometrics, keep the stretch-shortening cycle as quick as possible.

This type of training will improve your ability to produce high forces in a short amount of time.

 

You will hear a lot of nonsense about different ways to increase your vertical jump.

However, it comes down to simple physics.

Get fit, get stronger, and put your strength on the ground quicker.

Nothing else will give you results.

 

3 REASONS WHY CHILDREN DOING GYMNASTICS SHOULD STRENGTH TRAIN

3 REASONS WHY CHILDREN DOING GYMNASTICS SHOULD STRENGTH TRAIN

Why do gymnasts need dedicated strength training?

 

Fewer injuries

Gymnasts need a moderate amount of stress on their skeleton to build bone density.

Jumps are one part of it, weightlifting with perfect form is another.

Doing too much can be a bad thing, but gymnastics without a base of strength is trouble guaranteed.

The dose makes the poison, but such thing as a healthy, competitive gymnast can exist if treated with care.

The bottom line is this: don’t wait to get hurt to start strength training.

 

Better movement quality

You’ve seen articles pop up in the news about this: kids are fatter and more sedentary than ever.

The children from the 1970’s supposedly moved very well.

While I wasn’t there to confirm this, it’s true that millennials can’t even get into a deep squat position without falling on their face.

Start with learning how to pick up a weight off the floor with a flat back, followed by lunges and hip hinge variations.

If a gymnast can’t master basic movement patterns, you can’t expect them to do back extensions and pirouettes with impeccable form.

Good movement needs to be the only movement allowed, starting from the basics at an early age.

Sounds easy, but no one does it.

 

Health and lifestyle

The benefits of having a positive early experience with strength training go far beyond gymnastics.

The competitive life of a gymnast lasts the blink of an eye, and you want to keep on working out after that.

When gymnastics ends, many girls can’t find joy in regular exercise.

This leads to problems managing their health and their weight because of lack of habit or motivation.

Building good manners in the gym and a taste for general exercise can prevent this problem.

Make gym training an enjoyable experience and it’s benefits will carry on for decades.

 

If you liked the article, please share so others may benefit.

HOW GLORIA JUNIOR INCREASED THEIR JUMPS 20%

HOW GLORIA JUNIOR INCREASED THEIR JUMPS 20%

This is how we trained:

Take home points:

  • The average jump height of team Gloria Junior improved 20% (6,11 centimeters).
  • They did this in a five-month period, with one strength training session per week plus a series of exercises to be implemented during their regular gymnastics training.
  • We used a mix of squatting, deadlifting and pressing movements with a particular emphasis on glutes and core.
  • Plyometrics and jumping and landing technique was an important part of the program.
  • A significant percentage of the improvement can be attributed to the gymnasts still being in a growing phase (they are 13 to 15 years old).
  • Another factor for this big improvement is that they had no previous history of strength training, which elicits a high initial response.

 

Here are the Top 3 Jumpers:

top3

The details

The benefits of getting strong will transfer to jumping, but also include enhancements in general sports skills as well as decreases in risk of injury (Suchomel, Nimphius, & Stone, 2016).

To develop jumps in a young gymnast, we need a combination of explosive movements and heavy-resistance strength training (Maffiuletti et al., 2016).

In the past, the times when I have failed to improve the jumping height of athletes, it’s been due to these 2 things:

Lack of consistency. You can’t strength train six weeks, stop training, train another six weeks, stop again and expect to increase or even maintain jumping power.

Strength and power need to be developed and maintained as high as possible year round.

Poor Nutrition.  Fat doesn’t fly.

Any body mass that is not directly contributing to propulsive forces (in other words, body fat) is hindering your power.

Overweight gymnasts won’t jump high.

No training system will overcome these two premises.

With Gloria Junior, I have had the opportunity to work for five months on a consistent basis.

This way, we eliminated constraint number one (lack of consistency).

When it comes to bodyweight, they are visibly lean.

This eliminates the second constraint (sub-optimal fat levels).

Now I can strength train them and help them get the results they want.

 

Data analysis

We tested a countermovement jump using a validated contact platform from Chronojump.

Here are the results of the test and the re-test:

data1

To see the jump scores, look into the column that says “ABK (Cm)” in blue, and the column that says “ABK (Cm)” in yellow (test and re-test).

Move on to the table below.

You can see the average score of the team (mean), the standard deviation (SD) and the best and worst jumps (Min and Max).

For averages, I didn’t take into account the athletes in red, as they missed one of the tests due to injury/sickness.

I have also included the z-scores, which is a measure that says how good each gymnast can jump compared to the average of the team.

A z-score above 0 means you can jump more than the average, and a z-score under 0 means you jump less than the team average.

While you could already see this directly from the jump height in centimeters, it is a handy measure to deeper analyze the data.

Keep reading.

The next step was to visualize the improvements in absolute change (how many centimeters they improved) as well as in relative change (what percentage of improvement).

I also added each individual and mean z-scores.

You can see this in the two right columns. Please click on the table to see it better:

Click to enlarge

Realize that factors like weight loss or weight gain, motivation, readiness, and wherein the menstrual cycle the athlete is all can affect test scores positively or negatively.

Results in tests are just an opportunity to see trends, not a definitive judgment in performance -leave that for competition time.

Now, let’s look now at correlations:

correlation

Looking at the table above, we see almost no correlation between test and absolute and relative changes.

This means that both the gymnasts with high and low initial scores improved substantially.

As the gymnasts become more advanced athletes, it will be a lot harder to see improvements of this magnitude over time.

An excellent way to make the data easier to understand is to use scatter plots.

Below this paragraph, you can see a scatter plot of the initial test vs. the relative change or improvement.

The more on the left an athlete is, the less they jumped in the initial test.

The higher an athlete is, the more they improved regarding percentage change.

I also added a trend line, which is showing a non-significant skew towards low initial test scores having a more significant relative change.

click to enlarge

Next one is a scatter plot of the relative change in z-scores.

click to enlarge

Here we can see who improved the most compared to the average of the team (0 in the vertical axis):

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

I divided the gymnasts into high and low responders. 

We can accomplish this by looking at the z-scores of the initial test and the relative change.

This way we end up with a very useful quadrant where we can rapidly see:

  • Gymnasts with a low initial ability that responded poorly to the training program.
  • Gymnasts with a low initial ability that responded well to the training program.
  • Gymnasts with a high initial ability that responded poorly to the training program.
  • Gymnasts with a high initial ability that responded well to the training program.

click to enlarge

This graph is very cool because it will allow us to individualize the training, dividing gymnasts into groups depending on their characteristics.

We need to change the training for some gymnasts while others can keep training in the same manner.

We also can decide how much strength training is necessary for each of them according to their response.

Some gymnasts can focus on gymnastics skills and less in strength while others should focus on strength and less on skills.

Again, these are just trends, and we have to be very careful when interpreting tests results.

But provided that we don’t make false conclusions, this is precious information.

With that said, I am confident in this approach.

Expect high-flying gymnasts next season

 

References:

Maffiuletti, N. A., Aagaard, P., Blazevich, A. J., Folland, J., Tillin, N., & Duchateau, J. (2016). Rate of force development: physiological and methodological considerations. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(6), 1091–116. doi:10.1007/s00421-016-3346-6

Mladen Janovic. (n.d.). Complementary Training. Retrieved from www.complementarytraining.net

Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., & Stone, M. H. (2016). The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine, 1–31. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0486-0