View Full Version : Gymnastics: Competition Ring Training

Chadron Edwards
09-08-2008, 06:00 PM
Hello to everyone and before anything, sincere thanks to those posting their knowledge here and elsewhere; it has been very, very helpful, as will become clear:

About a year and a half ago, I made a bet with a roommate for a rather large sum of money that I could perform an iron cross if I trained it for a year. I took my workouts to a new level, did a huge amount of research (must have read Steven Low's Developing the Iron Cross about three dozen times), started both Crossfit and joined the college gymnastics club, worked it hard for a year, and won the bet.

In that process, I discovered that gymnastics is an awesome (and frustrating) sport, and that I'd like to compete in it. Moving into my third year of law school puts me in the last position I will likely ever be in to compete gymnastics, as the club team here (University of Virginia) accepts grad students.

I have realized that, if I'm going to specialize enough to compete a rings routine sometime around March, I need specialize my training. As much as I've hated to do so, I've gone off of the Crossfit WOD and have instituted my own programming.

The Performance Menu / Catalyst Athletics website and many of the people on this forum have been extremely influential in both my decision to start specialized programming and my specific programming choices.

I won't fill up the forum with my WODs (which, along with my programming concept, are at www.cpteddie.blogspot.com), but, if anyone has time to take a look at the following, I would very, very much appreciate any and all feedback, criticism, or comments.

Below is my plan for the next three days which will wrap up my second strength week (weeks start on Saturdays and are 2 on 1 off 3 on 1 off).

Tuesday, the workout will be at a gymnastics facility, and I can plan on having approximately 1:45 to complete the following:
~30 minutes of swings and dismounts into pit
~Cross pullouts with elastic band support: 3-3-3-3-3
~L-sit, press to handstand, inverted cross, press back to handstand with counterweighted harness rig (effectively halves user's bodyweight): 7x1
~Spotted 30sec. handstand hold on rings: 3x1

Wednesday, the workout will be at a local gym (Rocky Top Rec. Center in Charlottesville). There is a set of rings with long straps, and places to mount lower rings. The owner has asked that only non-technical, strength-based moves be practiced there. Any major swinging or handstand elements are out. Here's the plan:
~On low rings, L-sit (5 sec. hold): 5x1
~Hang, inverted hang, spotted back lever, inverted hang: 5x2
~Bulgarian dips: 3x8
~Hang, inverted hang, spotted front lever, inverted hang: 5x2
~Dumbbell rows (rehab program for winging scapula): 3x10
~Maltese postition dumbbell presses: 4-4-4-4
~Short metcon (under 10 minutes)

Thursday, the workout moves back to the gymnastics gym:
~30 minutes of swings and dismounts into pit (again)
~Dislocates practice drill: 15x1
~Backwards roll to support: 5x1
~Muscle-up to L-sit: 4x3
~Spotted jump-to-maltese hold: 5x1
~Maltese to iron cross with counterweight harness: 5x1
~Short metcon (under 10 minutes)

Friday is a rest day. One of the weekend days, I'm going to try to get on rings but facilities may be extremely limited (travelling to Philadelphia); the other day I'll be doing deadlifts or other heavy weight training, most likely a 1-1-1-1-1-1-1.


The other aspect to this training to which I am soliciting feedback is the macro plan. I've been inspired by the Performance Menu / Catalyst Athletics program of a 4 week strength and then 4 week Bulgarian style training program, and am attempting to adapt this to my training.

The way that works is that the first and third 4 weeks are focused mainly on developing raw strength, getting the body used to the many positions and holds that will be required by my final competition rings routine. I'll be doing a lot of volume with crosses, presses, and levers. I'll also be specifically working on some of the more difficult connecting moves. I'll be working on swings and dismounts as well, generally 30-40 minutes per day when in the gym.

In the second and forth 4 weeks, I'll be doing considerably less volume in terms of raw strength, but will be doing a lot more of the "putting it all together" work. During these workouts, I will put the competition routine together and go through it with a spotter a few times per practice session with a long rest period between efforts. When not working with a spotter, or when at a gym restrictive of certain elements, I'll be putting together routines with allowed moves which are approximately the same length as the competition routine. Because these workouts will be shorter, I'll be also able to focus more on working technique moves, spending even more time developing my swing, dismount, and other technical parts of the routine.


My main question in terms of the macro programming is whether a 4 week/4 week schedule would be best, or if changes to that might be better. For example, starting with 4/2 right now to build strength, then do 4/3, 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 as competition approaches (plan on February or March 2009) and time becomes better used perfecting elements rather than building them. I realize that we're probably into theoretical/experimental ground here, but even some discussion and dialogue would be extremely helpful.

Steven Low
09-08-2008, 06:35 PM
1. Still think you're lacking [horizontal] pulling work and possibly dedicated external rotation work as well. Need another row variation like front lever pullups is probably a good bet. Inverted rows... whatever.

2. As for programming I tend to use a 5-6 week on/1 week or half week off schedule. Depending on the intensity -- I've tried 18 workouts and 16 workouts in 2 weeks -- and I had to rest for a week or so afterwards. So basically when you start to feel run down or performance decrease take a rest week.

I know that's nothing like the Bulgarian cycles though.. so take it for how you will. Generally, if you're trying something new I'd say play it by feel.

3. Don't see a need for some of the exercises like Bulgarian dips.. especially if you're working cross. Basically eliminate the exercises that don't help you work towards your goals or can be replaced by other more effective exercises.

Garrett Smith
09-09-2008, 06:35 PM
My only comment would be to absolutely minimize the metcon, maybe only doing one a week instead of the two you mentioned.

Chadron Edwards
09-11-2008, 04:13 PM
Thanks for the responses and help so far. If you check the website, there have been a few modifications to the workouts through the week from what was originally posted here.

Garrett, I've been keeping them all under 10 and actually more in the 3-5 minute range. Would you still do only one per week at that rate, or are you thinking more of the 10+ minute range?

Steven, thanks for keeping me honest about using the easier exercises and the horizontal pulling! The scapula is definitely improving.

In general, is there any consensus on working strength elements on consecutive days? I see some of this on the Performance Menu schedule, but am trying to figure out if there is a theory behind it which I could apply. My intuition says to hit these moves (e.g., cross, maltese, levers) two or even three days in a row during my strength cycle and simply expect performance to decline as fatigue sets in.

I'd liken it to a lifter with a weak jerk, relative to the rest of his capabilities. If he's on a 3/1/2/1 schedule, how often would you have him working that movement? Obviously every athlete is different and that isn't an ideal analogy, but I'm just thinking in terms of basic theory.

Steven Low
09-11-2008, 08:39 PM
I train strength 5x a week. Generally, I will focus on 1-2 push and 1-2 pull exercises with about 15 reps per each exercise for about 25-30 reps total. More or less depending on the difficulty. This has worked extremely well for me in the past year or so, and I've gotten a lot stronger.

In terms of something like cross, front lever, maltese, etc. you can program the statics like:

cross + maltese
front lever + planche
cross + maltese
front lever + planche
cross + maltese

And then add in whatever you need to such as HSPUs, RTO dips, front lever pullups, etc. maybe one push and one pull to each of the statics above or something along those lines. Play around with it a bit.

My base programming at the moment as you can see in my log (http://www.performancemenu.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2944 and the previous log I link to in the first post) is mainly OAC work + maltese but I am also working front lever and planche stuff concurrently with the occasional cross thrown in. Volume is kept pretty low so I can strength train everyday... making very quick progress to say the least.

Maybe a metcon (although I don't because I don't feel like diluting my strength -- although I am not performing a routine and don't need the endurance like you probably do). Otherwise, prehab work for the shoulders, elbows and wrists is good plus emphasis on horizontal pulling for you because of the rehab for winging scapula.

Garrett Smith
09-12-2008, 01:01 PM
The metcon amount is totally determined by how focused you want to be on your ring comp goal. I don't see very much metcon as being necessary or productive in your situation.

If you aren't that devoted to this temporary goal, do some metcon for S & G's. Definitely keep them under 5 minutes. If you feel the metcon is interfering with your ring training, ditch it.