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Strength & Conditioning in Elite Gymnastics

Artistic Gymnastics has some of the most jaw-dropping feats you will ever see in the athletic world. Gymnasts possess incredible flexibility, strength, power and aerial awareness.

A gymnast can experience ground reaction forces of more than ten times their body weight during a tumble pass. Gymnasts also need a high degree of skill to execute a move safely, and put their bodies through immense training loads to excel. All this can lead to high injury rates.

In the past gymnastics strength and conditioning focused mostly on high rep bodyweight exercises, plyometric work and rep schemes. Those exercises are great at improving endurance and speed, but they are not optimal for improving muscle strength.

Strength is necessary to produce power.

Gymnastics often discouraged the use of weights for fear of making the gymnast too bulky. This misconception has changed as coaches and athletes have realised that – coupled with a well-rounded gymnastics program – training with weights:

  • increases power
  • helps perform better
  • prevents injury

This is the type of program that I have been implementing with the elite Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team at the YMCA Geelong Gymnastics Club over the past 12 months. As the physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach for the team, my program has focused on improving lower limb strength and power to enable the athletes to:

  • better absorb force with their landings
  • sprint faster
  • jump higher and
  • be more explosive athletes all round

The YMCA Womens’ Artistic Gymnastics program has had some amazing success this year, with several athletes giving outstanding performances on the national stage. It is a great source of pride to help contribute to the success of these phenomenal athletes.

Nic Scheelings
Physio / Strength & Conditioning Coach
Corio Bay Health Group / Newtown Physiotherapy and Pilates

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