Gymnastics And Why You Should Start Training Like A Gymnast
Gymnastics seems to be a form of movement that many people are afraid to venture into. I mean, it is a little intimidating seeing people doing crazy flips and tricks. However, the principles used to train you up into a gymnast should be used in your daily training routine. More importantly, the ultimate gymnastics is the ideal combination of flexibility and strength.
If you want a strong body and a powerful core, then there’s no powerhouse quite like a gymnasts body. Some of these gymnasts have the ability to lift themselves into many inhuman positions. How do they do this? Well, that’s what we are sharing with you today. Most of it has got to do with repetition and a structured fitness plan.
We’re all familiar with conventional strength training. But what makes gymnastic strength training different? Luckily, we have Christopher Sommer, who has 20 years of gymnastics coaching experience in the U.S. He explains clearly what a gymnast’s routine looks like and why we should all take part.
Sommer is famous for building his students into some of the most powerful and resilient athletes in the world. That’s pretty amazing. He currently focuses on GymnasticBodies. This is a training system which helps everyday people benefit from the same type of intentional, holistic training he brings to his athletes.
Gymnastics Means Training Smart
You know that phrase, ‘work smart and not hard?’ Well, gymnastics uses this concept throughout its training practices.
Coach Sommer has had over 40 years of experience. That’s quite a lot of time. During his years he documented his entire career, noting his training techniques. This included both his wins and failures. These were very important years and allowed him to observe his practices which led to the birth of Gymnastics Strength Training™ (or GST). He now hopes to help athletes avoid chronic injury and train for longevity and functional fitness instead.
In an extended interview for an episode of the Tim Ferriss Show. Ferriss asks Sommer about his approach to training as well as the most common mistakes made by the everyday athlete. Below is an excerpt of their conversation, edited by Outside.
What Is Gymnastics Strength Training (GST)?
Sommer says that GST is high-level bodyweight strength training. However, it does not include any of the technical training that advanced gymnasts do for world-class performance. Nor does it involve what the acrobatics or technical gymnastics do. He says it’s purely the strength, joint prep, and mobility components.
How To Manage The Pain Of Serious Strength Training?
Many of us make the mistake of training through pain. We’re raised to believe that without pain, we will not gain, especially in today’s fitness-obsessed world. It’s even worse when you get stuck in a cardio-weight cycle.
Sommer says he gets people coming to him who are really beat up because they never stop. That’s what we’re taught. But, in GST there’s a very different way of thinking. GST believes that when there is no brain there is no gain. And Sommer doesn’t mean the pain of fatigue either. He says the best way to know the difference between fatigue and injury is the sharpness of the pain.
Therefore, if you’re feeling pain because of an intense core workout, and you stop, if it’s fatigue, it’s immediately going to start to lessen. The pain will literally vanish. But, if it’s an injury and you stop, it’s immediately going to begin increasing. Sommer says this is your cue to stop.
Do Not Overwork Your Muscles
Generally speaking, any newbie in the fitness world will do this, at least once. They base their training off muscular fatigue. Sommer says this is problematic because muscle tissue regenerates every 90 days from end to end, all of the cells. This isn’t the problem. The issue arises because the connective tissue takes 200 to 210 days.
In addition, when most people think about the injuries they’ve experienced, most of them are joint-related. Sommer says it’s extremely rare for someone to have a muscle belly injury. Yet, most beginners angle their training towards muscular development and not connective tissue development. This is where they get into trouble. Therefore, when a beginner starts GST the first thing Sommer likes them to do is dial it back.
Slow Down Your Training
There are a few advantages to slowing down your training regime.
Sommer says he gets a lot of people who are addicted to the adrenaline rush. It’s something that happens easily. I know this feeling too well. We don’t want to leave a workout until we’re drenched in sweat. However, this is problematic, especially if you’re a world class athlete. You can’t do this because you have to be back in the gym the next day and train again. And even if you’re just a regular person, maxing out in the gym every time isn’t good for your health.
Sommers explains that you can work your hardest today. But, if you could do the same tomorrow, there’s no point. This means no matter how hard you train today, the progress you make through a properly structured week can’t compare.
Mature Versus Immature Athletes
This is an attitude ordeal and not an age one. Sommer says an immature athlete is someone who wants what they want right now, whereas a mature athlete is someone who is willing to do what needs to be done now to get rewarded for it later, delayed gratification. Better yet, it’s the mature athlete that, in the long run, always comes out on top. They’re always the ones with the greater longevity and the greater success. The other ones, the immature ones, if they’re really talented, they may stay ahead for a while.
But, eventually, you’re going to get so broken and beat up that you’ll have to step aside, while the mature athletes keep doing their thing day in and day out.
What Should A Regular Adult Do When Starting Gymnastics?
Let’s say you fall into the 23 to 30-something age category. You’re in decent shape and you do basic gym exercises and follow a relatively good diet. Where do you start?
Which movements, exercises or stretches would you choose?
Sommer says the Jefferson Curl is the best to start with for joints, He explains that there are multiple sections of the spine. Moreover, it consists of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. The Jefferson Curl strengthens the glutes, down into your hamstrings and your calves. It will then hit your Achilles as well. Sounds like a winning exercise if you ask me.
I love exercises that do a variety of things for you in one movement. In addition, doing just the Jefferson Curl for an extended period of time will make a lot of aches and pains disappear.
Eat And Train
There’s a misconception in the fitness industry that you need to diet and train until you max out every time. This is far from the truth and it’s not sustainable either.
Sommer believes that you should eat well and exercises according to a plan. Don’t get trapped in the cycle of working off a bad diet. It can’t be done. There are some people who figure out a crazy combination of massive amounts of cardio and food. When this happens, they keep their weight in check. However, when they stop this level of cardio, they immediately start gaining.
Gymnastics training means that weight gain and weight loss should be separate from your conditioning. Sommer says if your nutrition is dialled in, your body is going to find its natural, healthy weight. Therefore, if you want to be the giant muscle guy, and that’s not your phenotype (your body type) then that’s just how it is.
The point is to learn to accept yourself. You’re not going to change your phenotype. Sommer says you’re not going to change your body’s genetic expression. But you can maximize what your potential is.
You can’t choose the cards you were dealt, but you can choose to max out what you were given. And anybody can learn this approach.
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