10 Gymnastic Exercises to Add to your Routine
Gymnasts have some of the strongest upper bodies and cores in the world. Watching them perform amazing feats of strength at the Olympics might lead you to think their training and your physique have nothing in common. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Gymnastic strength training is a way to add joint and muscle strength exercises to your routine that build strong muscles, healthy joints and can even improve your regular training. So today, we’re going to take you through 10 gymnastic exercises to add to your routine.
Stick with us if you want to get strong using your own bodyweight.
1. HOLLOW HOLD
The hollow hold is the fundamental core exercise we see in gymnasts. It’s an awesome way to train your core with bodyweight alone. If you want to get past sit ups and planks, this is a great next step.
You can move from a tucked hollow hold to a dish position (with the arms and legs pointed and long) to make it more challenging. This is obviously great for core strength and posture, relieves stress on the lower back and can be a great way to progress your chin-up or pull-up.
2. HAND RELEASE PUSH UP
The hand-release push-up is a great way to strengthen your shoulders and upper back simultaneously. If you’re struggling with posture, or you’re worried about shoulder health, this is a great exercise to improve control and mobility in your upper body.
I also recommend using this as a warm-up for your bench press sessions. It’s a great way to learn how to push with your chest and triceps while keeping your upper back tight – essential for good form.
3. PUSH UP WITH A PLUS
Gymnasts use this exercise to strengthen and control their shoulders. It works all the regular push up muscles – such as the chest and triceps – but also the Serratus Anterior.
This often-overlooked muscle looks great, but the main reason you need to strengthen it is to keep your shoulders stable and healthy. The serratus is important in scapular adduction – a pattern of movement that’s important for pressing, overhead movements and posture.
4. L-STAND PUSH UP
While it’s not quite as impressive as a handstand push up, the L-stand push up (on a wall or box) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and triceps all at once. You can use this is an accessory for presses and overhead strength, as it forces you to stabilise your shoulders more than a regular press would.
You can elevate your feet to make it more challenging or lower them to make it easier. The more weight you put into your arms, and the more upright your torso, the harder it will be.
5. CHIN UP HOLDS + LOWERS
If there’s one thing we can all learn from gymnastics, it’s how to train strength through progressions. If you’re not ready for your chin-ups or pull-ups, try the chin up hold and lower. This is a classic way to strengthen the muscles for the movement and get that next step towards bodyweight pulling movements.
You can also use these after your chin-ups if you’re getting tired and want the extra volume or want to strengthen your elbow and shoulder joints.
6. KNEE TUCK (+ OBLIQUES)
Knee tucks are a great way to train your core and they’re far more fun than sit-ups! Hanging variations of core work are great to strengthen your hip flexors and abdominal muscles.
You can add in side knee tucks to train the oblique muscles and make sure you’re training for well-rounded core development. These are both great exercises for spine health and stabilising your midline in a way you might not have tried before.
7. SIDE BRIDGE TUCK
This is a great way to train rotation and the sides of your core. How often do you train core rotations? How controlled are you with your Russian twists and other exercises?
The side bridge with tuck is a great way to train for stability and strength. You hold a side bridge like normal, training the obliques, but the added tuck brings a whole new rotational exercise to your training and demands serious core stability.
8. RING ROW
This is one of my favourite exercises for the upper back. Whether you’re trying to burn out your back and biceps, or you want to progress towards those elusive chin-ups/pull-ups, the ring row is a beautiful exercise for balancing your pulls and presses.
Working all the muscles of the upper back, as well as the core and grip, the ring row is one of the best bang-for-your-buck gymnastic exercises for physique and fitness training. This isn’t just a great way to build a strong back, as it builds stronger, more resilient arms, too.
9. RING PUSH UP
Another exercise on the rings. The ring push up is one of the most challenging and productive exercises for your upper body. With the addition of rings (and your feet elevated), you can add extra range – and dynamic stability – to your push up.
These might sound easy, but they’re definitely not!
This variation forces you to build balance, activates stabiliser muscles, like the serratus, which you might not use in regular push ups and forces you to develop a great upper back. If you’re ready for the challenge, the ring push up is waiting for you!
10. WEIGHTED PIKE
The weighted pike or v-up is one of the most effective, brutal core exercises around. It’s a great way of training flexion – the same pattern you’ll see in a sit-up – but with the opportunity to add weight and really challenge yourself.
Moving through the arms and legs together focuses on core strength so you can’t cheat any reps. You’ll also take some strain off the hip flexors. Grab a plate in your hands and make sure it touches your toes at the top!
There’s nothing more functional than training to move your own body more effectively. These are ten gymnastic exercises you can add to your routine, but this list is far from exhaustive. There are dozens of other amazing exercises.
Add these to your routine, see how they revolutionise your training and remember results start with movement quality and attention to detail. Do these right and they’ll bring you serious progress.