T Nation

Training For Gymnastics


I am currently training for gymnastics, but I need a little guidance.

Here is a little background/stats:
Age: 19
Weight: 168~
Height: 5'8"
Bodyfat: 10-15%

I used to eat like shit... as bad as possible for the most part, but I have been reading this site for the last 3-4 months and recently gone to a sports nutritionist and he supported 95%~ of the ideas I have read here. I have been slowly cleaning up my diet, however it is far from optimal. I have been doing weights 2-3 times a week focusing mainly on chins/pulls, dips, deadlifts, lunges, and pikes/leg lifts. I also do gymnastics 1-2 times a week. I can't do much more than that because of a bad case of shin splints.

Basically, I am looking for a push in the right direction, and help in consolidating all of the ideas I've read here. I know I need to put on muscle to even think about competing in rings/bars/pommel but I also need to stay relatively small to be able to still flip well. Any help would be much appreciated.


You should start by dealing with your shin splints.

Its impossible to get near the results you could have while still ignoring a cronic injury.

If you can't jump and do drills etc you won't improve your gymnastics. Search this site of info on it.

And also, more muscle will help you jump better, check out the olympics, them guys are not "relatively small".


I would just ask your gymnastics coach: What can I do on my own that won't mess up my shins? There's no substitute for expert advice.

I'm no gymnastics coach, but things that come to mind as not stressing the shins, applying to gymnastics, and not requiring any equipment to speak of, are -

  • Coach Sommer's lever, planche, and hanging leg raise progressions (see his articles on this site).

  • Working your free-standing static handstand and progressions to handstand push-ups against a wall.

  • Working on your L-sits.

If you're talking about nutrition, check the archives and the beginner's thread. Anything by Berardi is good, as a starting point.


I took gymnastics for a year when I was your age. I'm taking it again at 27 and it is far easier to do things now that I'm stronger. Squatting is pretty much the best way to increase your vertical leap and I do it twice a week on a max effort/dynamic effort format (look at Westside for Skinny Bastards and add in a leg day and you have my routine), one day a week I either do gymnastics or plyometrics. I avoid the rings, etc. because I prefer tumbling.

Shin splints can oftentimes be fixed by doing weighted toe raises (put the db between your feet, heels on the edge of a weight bench and raise and lower). A couple sets of 15 reps, slowly building up the weight is what I would suggest. Avoid whatever is aggravating your shin splints as much as possible.

When I was 18 I could do a front tuck off a mini-tramp and handspring off the floor. Now that I'm stronger I can do a front tuck off the floor and a back tuck off a mini-tramp. Leg strength from squatting is very helpful. Also shoulder pressing helped me do a back somersault to handstand, couldn't do that when I was younger cause I was weak.

As for the size thing, I weighed 137-147 when I did gymnastics as a teenager, now I weigh 210-215. It's easier cause I'm stronger.


Well, if you want to train for gymanstics, and especially want to do ring work, you need to definitely hop on the rings more often than 1-2 times a week. Gymnasts bodies are byproducts of their training, so therefore, adding "excess mass" (fat, muscle, whatever) disturbs their strength/weight ratio (extremely important, especially on rings!). So I'd say keep lifting, but do more gymnastics (if that's what your ultimate interest is) instead of lifting (3 times a week for gymnastics supplemented with 1 or 2 days of weight lifting in the strength/max effort kind of range or whatever works for you, but if gymnastics is your interest, supplement it with heavy weight lifting).

To be honest, I've never heard of a gymnast having a phenomenal diet. If anything, they're probably some of the few olympians who have crap diets and still are strong as hell and have some of the most impressive physiques.

Lastly, you need to take care of your shin splints first before you decide to do floor work or anything involving high impact on the legs (landing a back tuck with shin splints must suck!).

Also, at 5'8", you're going to have a bitch of a time on rings with things like iron crosses, planches, and malteses (your disadvantaged leverage position will be even worse than a shorter person.) So definitely work rings a lot if you want to do them!


Alright guys, thanks for the tips. I will look into ways to heal my shins again.. I have seen several doctors about it and taken several months off before, but it never seems to do anything, I might have gotten back into it too quickly. Do you guys have any other suggestions for dealing with them? The only thing I can think of that might work at all is taking 3-4 months off and then coming back very slowly, so I might give that a try and work on rings or something for the next few months.