Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Gymnastics: Why strength isn't just about barbells.

This guy is strong.

No, seriously. Before you read any further, go find a pair of gymnastics rings and try something relatively easy, say a press-to-handstand. In fact, just try getting into the bottom position of the press-to-handstand.

After you've tried that, consider the fact that Chen Yibing thinks that is a complete joke. Chen Yibing can do that as easily as you can walk, talk, or breathe. Chen Yibing doesn't sleepwalk, he sleep press-to-handstands.

In short, Chen Yibing is strong like bull. Without the use of a barbell.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't use barbells. Hell no. I LOVE barbells. They are amongst my top five things in the world, along with food, and CrossFit women. But also on that list are gymnastics rings (don't ask what number five is, you smart asses.) Sadly, a lot, probably most CrossFitters neglect training gymnastics beyond the things we see in WODs: various pullups, pushups, ring dips, situps, handstand pushups, etc.

These are all great movements. But we shouldn't treat our gymnastics training any differently from our weightlifting. We do high rep clean & jerks with 135#, and we also clean & jerk 1 rep maxes. The increase in loading creates a very different kind of stress which produces a very different result. But there's a correlation: Improving your 1RM clean & jerk is a big part of getting better at doing a lot of light clean & jerks very quickly. Gymnastics is no different: master the press-to-handstand on the rings, and your handstand pushups will suddenly get better.

Resources on gymnastics aren't that hard to find:  The CrossFit Journal is full of great articles from Jeff Tucker, Tyler Hass, Roger Harrell, and others.  Roger has a great website called Drills and Skills, and Jim Bathurst runs a page called Beast Skills.  Both are full of outstanding drills and techniques to up your gymnastics game.

It's right there in World Class Fitness in 100 words – "Master the basics of gymnastics: pullups, dips, rope climb, pushups, situps, press-to-handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds."

If you try really hard, Chen Yiping might not laugh at you.


traucer777 said...

"I LOVE barbells. They are amongst my top five things in the world, along with food, and CrossFit women."

you and me both. i actually found chocolate covered bacon today... not sure if im gonna buy it but the idea sounds amazing...

now to more on topic stuff...

aside from the pull up gymnastics have always been a problem for me. i think its partially due to that fact that at 6' im relatively tall. granted its not as big of a problem as someone who is 6'7 or something, but my body is still a really long lever. def something i need to work on tho. so i recently switched up my programing and now im gonna have time to work on that stuff more. im excited :)
anyone here ever actually pull off an iron cross?

CrossFitMarin said...

With barbells, dumbells and the like we take a movement, find the most mechanically efficient way to do it, then add load to add resistance. With gymnastics we take a movement, find a more mechanically disadvantaged version of the movement and perform it to add load. Concepts are the same in both cases. One develops fantastic absolute strength, the other develops fantastic relative strength. Both are necessary in a well rounded program.

Jay Ashman said...

barbells are my bitch, but this post really puts into perspective how important gymnastics is in the scheme of strength. Great one..

osatts said...

I was only messing around with press 2 handstand and handstand holds on rings yesterday. I sucked!

I can walk on my hands, hold handstands, I can hit 21 HSPUs unbroken. However, I couldn't for the life of me press into a handstand on the rings yesterday...it completely destroyed me.

Therefore I have set a goal of press 2 handstand by the end of the year!

Video to follow!