It’s December and for many of the us, the open is fast approaching. We want to make sure our athletes are well prepared for the upcoming competition. For those of you that have participated in our gymnastics series, you know the focus is building bodyweight strength using strict form (i.e skip the kip). On December 29, we will be hosting a kipping gymnastics clinic that will focus on the technical aspects of hollow/arch positions, the beat swing, and a couple movements that you will encounter in the open.
- Toes to Bar
- Kipping Pullup
The clinic will be 2 hours long and will cover both technical review of each movement as well as individual and partner-based skill / strength work.
A Few Reasons Why You Struggle with Toes to Bar
- You Lack Abdominal Strength –It’s simple to tell if weak abdominals are your main culprit in your road to T2B. Do you struggle with easier midline exercises? Are you able to comfortably execute multiple hanging knee raises? If hanging knee raises are a challenge (this could a lat issue too), you may want to spend time strengthening the abdominals prior to tackling toes to bar.
- Weak Lats – If your midline and hip flexors are solid and you still struggle with T2B, I can almost guarantee you have either weak lats or don’t know how to properly activate them. This is an often-overlooked area when discussing toes to bar. The lats are important, especially during the backswing, because you need to press down on the bar to close the shoulder angle, keep your hips behind the plane of the bar, and compress/lift your hips. By pressing down, you are shortening the distance between your feet and the bar as well as getting back into the rhythm of the beat swing.
- Your Form Needs Work – Syncing multiple toes to bar is marrying strength and rhythm. Your toes to bar will suffer If timing is off or if you have improper muscle activation. You need to have a strong understanding in the importance hitting the hollow and arch positions during the movement. This becomes very important in recovering after your toes touch the bar. Can you go from toes touching the bar to hollow to arch and back in a smooth and controlled manner? If you can’t there is a good chance you begin swinging like a pendulum after 1 or 2 reps.
- Mobility / Flexibility – Many of the form issues can stem from poor mobility primarily in the thoracic spine, hamstrings, shoulder, and pecs. For most people, this mostly is going to be poor t-spine mobility. I tend to see many of our athletes struggle with the arch portion of the beat swing. This is best illustrated if you have trouble pushing your head and chest “through the shoulder”. The arch portion of the beat swing is where the power is generated, issues here can severely diminish power output and make the exercise a lot more difficult. This goes without saying, if you cannot safely reach the arch position, I would not attempt the force the position.
- Weak Hip Flexors If you can link multiple toes to bar, but burnout rather quickly, your hip flexors may be holding you back. One of the major functions of the hip flexor is compression. This means your ability to bring/hold your thighs close to your body. Your hip flexors should work in concert with the abdominal to compress the legs. I would add seated pike leg lifts to your accessory work to help strengthen those hip flexors.