How to Do a Gymnastics Workout Without Equipment
Gymnastics puts such an incredible demand on the body, it's important to plan your workouts in accordance with your gymnastic goals. Strength training is vital -- Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone devotes an hour each day to outside practice. Cardio is important to keep your body fat down, but gymnastics is more of a strength than endurance event, and too much cardio can start to break down muscle tissue. The good news is that using weights can give gymnasts muscular proportions that can hinder their abilities, so the only equipment you need to work out is the weight of your body.
Do as many pushups as you can, then rest and repeat. Experiment with hand placement -- try placing them far apart or side by side to work different muscles. To make them harder, put your feet on a chair.
Stand in a face-down pike position, as tight as you can. Bracing your hands on the floor, bend your elbows to lower the top of your head to the floor, then push back up. Do as many as you can, then repeat. To make it harder, stand on your tip toes.
Arrange yourself into table position, with your hands and feet on the ground and your pelvis toward the ceiling. Squeeze your butt to get your pelvis as high as you can, then bend your elbows until they are bent at a 90-degree angle and push back up. Repeat to failure for two sets.
Lie on your back with your arms straight over your head. Straighten your legs together and raise them about 4 inches from the floor. Quickly pike until you are touching your toes while balanced on your tailbone, then lower back down. Keep your body hollow, and repeat to failure for two sets.
Get into plank position -- the top of a pushup -- and hold for 30 seconds. Tilt your body to the right, maintaining your straight body, until you are balanced on one hand with your feet stacked. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then return to plank for 30 seconds. Repeat to the other side, then return to plank for another 30 seconds.
Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your legs straight and together, pointing at the ceiling. Lower your legs toward the floor until your lower back begins to lift off the floor, then raise them back up. Do as many as you can, rest, then repeat.
Sit up straight with your legs straight and together in front of you, hands on the ground next to your hips. Hollow your body and push through the ground to lift your body into the air, maintaining straight legs. Hold as long as you can, rest and repeat.
Stand with your legs together and take a giant step forward into a lunge. Spring back to the starting position, and repeat to failure. Do the same thing on the other side, rest and repeat the set.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees to lower your butt toward the ground, then rise back up. Repeat 30 times. For the next 10, jump into the air instead of raising slowly. Rest, then repeat the set.
Stand in second position with your toes pointed out. Bend your knees to sink into a grand plie, making sure to keep your back straight and your butt tucked in. Slowly rise back up, and repeat 30 times. Perform the same move on your tiptoes for another 20 reps, rest, then repeat.
Finish every workout with a 30-minute cardio session. Running burns the most calories, but cycling or swimming will give your joints a much-needed rest. Keep a pace that allows you to talk without gasping.
Add a third set to each exercise where you do as many reps as you can in one minute. This improves your speed and reflexes, both important to learning new skills in gymnastics.
If you can get access to a pullup bar, doing several sets of pullups can improve your bar work. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson does about 30 per day, but she's done 100 in a single set. That's the kind of strength you need to be an elite gymnast.
Start slowly and work your way into the recommended exercise. Pushing yourself too hard will only work against you and can result in injury.
- Fitness: What It Takes to Be an Olympic Athlete - Shawn Johnson, Gymnast
- USA Gymnastics: Alicia Sacramone
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Angela Brady has been writing since 1997. Currently transitioning to a research career in oncolytic virology, she has won awards for her work related to genomics, proteomics, and biotechnology. She is also an authority on sustainable design, having studied, practiced and written extensively on the subject.