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The Gymnast's Back Routine


This seems to be an interesting routine for building a ?HUGE BACK?, but what strikes me the most is that it is mainly composed of high volume which I think will tend to build more endurance rather than strength, of course I could be wrong.

  • One thing, this is directed toward Coach Sommer?s or anyone else that has a history of gymnastics. Let?s say I was already well conditioned athlete, of course I myself can already do about 30 pull-ups, and will this program still benefit me creating strength and size? Or will I be forced to add weight to my pull-ups ( as I already am) but I feel that doing this kind of volume and extra weight would lead to some injury, will I still get strength gains if I do it without weight.

The Gymnast's Extended Set Back Routine

This routine is for the advanced trainee only, it is inspired by the routines that Olympic gymnasts do to condition their enormous backs. You must be able to do 12 strict form shoulder width supinated chins, to do this routine.

  1. Wide grip Pull-ups , as many reps as possible
  2. 10 seconds rest pause
  3. Medium grip Pull-ups , as many reps as possible
  4. 10 seconds rest pause
  5. Medium grip Chin-ups , as many reps as possible
  6. 10 seconds rest pause
  7. Narrow grip Chin-ups
  8. Rest 3 minutes
  9. Repeat steps 1 to 8 twice, cry and curse me.

Click here for a printable version of 'The Gymnast's Extended Set Back Routine'!

André ”he Flying Squirrel Routine

This routine is named after André ‚enoit, holder of the fastest in Luge double at the Lillehammer Olympics, who could do wide grip pull-ups with a 120 lbs dumbbell for a set of 3 reps on a 401 tempo. It is reserved for people who can chin-up with at least 33% of additional load for 8 reps (supinated grip shoulder width grip.)

  1. Sternum Chin-ups 5 x 4-6 on a 601 tempo, rest 4 minutes between sets.
  2. Subscapularis Pull-ups 3 x max reps on a 501 tempo, rest 3 minutes between sets.
  3. Negative Close Grip Chins 3 x 4-6 rest 3 minutes between sets, use additional loads if possible, lower the body for a 6-8 seconds count on every rep.


Well if you're interested in strength the second one looks better but it looks more difficult as well. Either should put some size on your back though. Throwing in some deadlifts would round either program out too.


This workout was posted on a more gymnastic training based forum in the gymnastics section by Tyler Hass. His reply was:

I don't know where Charles Poliquin got that routine, but no high-level gymnasts actually train that way. Most of them actually do very few pullups. Believe it or not, gymnasts mostly just do gymnastics. For additional training they tend to focus on more challenging exercises.

When I filmed the Ring Strength DVD, Jordan Jovtchev didn't know what to say about pullups. He hadn't done them in probably 20 years.
I'm not knocking pullups, as they're a great exercise. But they don't form the basis of a gymnast's routine.

If you want something more gymnastics-like, focus on front levers, back levers, crosses, swinging on parallel bars, planches, ring dips and press handstands.


All the moves listed in the end are all high strength, high tension movements, and the front/back levers can be done with just a pullup bar.


As a former competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach, I can say that while high-level gymnasts probably won't be doing that many pullups, beginners do a lot.

Mostly, though, gymnastics conditioning is pretty much looked at this way: Pick a bodyweight exercise and figure out a way to kill yourself doing it. That's the kind of conditioning me and my friends grew up on in the sport. Probably not the best way, but it worked.

The main back development thing is ring routines, though. Levers, crosses, etc. has most of the stress there.


Most elite level gymnasts wouldn?t do lots of pullups because pullups are easy for them. But the Poliquin article was directed to regular lifters, so makes more sense they train using beginer gymnast methods rather than elite level.

One thing i found intersting is that another day a brazilian top gymnast was interviewed in TV, and when he was shown training he was doing high-rep DB presses and 1leg calf raises. I also have seen gymnasts doing weighted leg lifts and rubber band exercises.


Hi Kitosho,

I recently started taking gymnastics classes (once a week for fun). The coaches are quite good, but I was wondering if you could recommend any books for beginners that cover the basics of tumbling.