If CrossFit teaches us anything, it’s we need to have some baseline gymnastic strength if we want to optimize our performance. While strength elements are extremely important, there is much more to the equation to be successful. One of the many important areas is building body awareness and understanding progression. It takes concentrated effort to tell your body what to do in a foreign environment. You tell yourself point your toes, don’t bend the knees, have active shoulders, lock out the arms, and several other cues. Your mind is going in circles while trying to get your brain and body on the same page. The reality of gymnastics training is you are building body awareness and strength throughout the skill curve and you should not look at this as a system of reps and no reps. Gymnastics strength is progressive and each skill should be mastered before moving on. You don’t just jump into calculus, you learn arithmetic then algebra and so on. If you want a handstand, start with mastering the tripod and headstand first. The problem for most is the progression system can be a mental hurdle.
I learned long ago you cannot have a weightlifting mentality and apply it to gymnastics strength training. The reward systems between the two are completely different. Weightlifting goals are more tangible in their measurement. Even on a bad lifting day, we will take some weight off the bar and finish the sets. Disappointed maybe, but you still feel good after the session (at least I do). Compared to spending 30 minutes avoiding falling on your face during handstand work or trying to hurl yourself over the rings for the 20th time. The quest for virtuosity can leave you feeling weak and demoralized. There are days where these goals feel Sisyphean. Gymnastics strength training is unquestionably hard physically but even more so mentally. I’m here to say DO NOT FEEL THIS WAY! Remember we are on a slow journey peppered with small and sometimes unnoticeable victories along the way. If you are struggling with a movement, take a step back and reevaluate where you are on the progression skill curve. You may be moving too fast and need to slow down. I love instant gratification as much as the next person, but not with this kind of training.
I see our members putting in the work and getting stronger throughout the year, whether you realize it or not. Your first pullup hold may have been 2 seconds, but then its 4, then 6, 8, 12, 15. You know what that is? Multiple PRs! You should celebrate an extra 2 seconds the same as an extra pound on the barbell. These small improvements are building a foundation of strength and body awareness that will translate into other areas of your training. It’s not going to be easy but enjoy the process and I promise it will be rewarding.
- Coach Shaun