My Journey Into Gymnastics
My first step into this journey began with a few harsh truths. I had to come to terms with the fact that if I wanted to truly benefit from and succeed in this venture that I had a lot of work to do.
The most drastic change was my approach and planning to training. One can easily be attracted by the allure of lifting heavier or performing some the more advanced gymnastics skills in CrossFit such as muscle ups or handstand press ups. It used to be a case of “well it works for me so why change it.” Not much thought is put into how well these skills are executed or the strain on the body that occurs by forcing it through improper mechanics.
My mindset towards training always evolved around what skills or weights I wanted to gain, usually widespread over many goals and with no actual game plan of how to get there.
My aim in programming has developed from chasing external goals to rather focusing on building my anatomy to be able to cope and advance physically as a whole. I am not concerned with hypertrophy alone, but rather with the development of a powerful, flexible, stable and balanced physical structure.
Mobility and stability became my soul focus for the first four weeks, yes this does sound like long time to devote to a bit of stretching and prehab work. However, I learnt the hard way that mobility is too often overlooked or dismissed in one’s programming.
How can I expect my movement patterns to be efficient and be able to move fluidly through full range of motion if I have not taken the time and attention to address the musculature and joints? Do my stabilising muscles fire and are they protecting me throughout the movement? Can I safely load my joints and structure in such positions under volume?
Once I had reached my required level of mobility, now I came to the challenge of maintaining. As strength increases the need to increase mobility will increase proportionately. A tight or over extended muscle is a weak muscle. Also the body does not like to be out of balance and can inhibit further development as an injury prevention measure, thus rendering any strength training in an unbalanced state futile.
Now, and only now, could I begin to focus on building my strength. And with this I learnt new respect for truly mastering the basics before attempting any of the more advanced exercises. Understanding the purpose and strength gains of an exercise rather than what looks cool.
I can appreciate stripping down a movement to it’s raw mechanics and rebuilding them so that the end result is a perfectly executed skill with the correct sequence of muscles firing. An exercise such as the simple push – up has a lot more to it than may appear so. Can you maintain a hollow (total core activation) and protraction (shoulder stabilisation) throughout the movement? Are your elbows moving along side your ribcage or flaring out?
Postural integrity, proprioception and kinaesthetic awareness became my most sought after tools. And something I apply to in everything I do. Having built up my foundation I could now focus on goal setting, which was a learning curve on it’s own.
For programming in gymnastics strength and conditioning, mobility or shoulder stability contact our gymnastic coach.