We all know there are so many different coaching methods, training programs, and coaching personalities. Many gymnastics coaches successfully get their gymnasts stronger, but they do not necessarily incorporate enough sport specific training into their programs. I have seen gymnasts benefit from the general strength exercises such as push ups, but when it comes time to perform certain skills the gymnast’s muscles are not always prepared, accustomed to the sequence of movements for the skills, or strong enough in each position required to safely complete the skill.

Gymnasts really need a variety of training to include sport specific training besides general strength conditioning in order to more closely simulate the skills in our sport. For example, many straight arm exercises such as the front lateral raise, press handstand, or planche drills more closely simulate gymnastics skills than bent arm exercises such as the push up, bench press, or reverse dips.

Here is one straight arm exercise that has helped many gymnasts strengthen their chest, shoulders, and back muscles, becoming stronger in two very important motions. Since the gymnast often must be able to open and close the shoulder angle during skills on uneven bars, I have included a very useful exercise which incorporates both up and down movements. This one should help her learn to efficiently transition from one arm motion to the next with ease. Picture your gymnast performing a glide kip, cast handstand, clear hip handstand. She will have to reverse shoulder movements several times within this short period of time. Once you see the shoulder movements necessary to connect these skills you will see the reasons I had for incorporating two exercises into one drill more than a decade ago. This exercise actually alternates the motions of opening and then closing the shoulder angle.

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