PDA

View Full Version : Gymnastics and Transference to lifting


Jay Guindon
03-12-2010, 06:55 PM
Hey guys,
I read an interview with Coach Sommer and he said he's seen gymnasts with no lifting experience lift ridiculous amounts the first time they do. Here is an excerpt

Sommer: Gymnastics training does indeed build incredible strength. For example, I was not a particularly strong gymnast, yet I was able to do a double bodyweight deadlift and weighted chins with almost 50% extra bodyweight on my very first weight training attempts.
One of my student’s, JJ Gregory, far exceeded my own modest accomplishments. On his first day of high school weight lifting, JJ pulled a nearly triple bodyweight deadlift with 400 pounds at a bodyweight of 135 and about 5’3" in height. On another day, he also did an easy weighted chin with 75 pounds

I've also heard Ido Portal talk about this and say that being strong at moving your bodyweight transfers really well to moving external loads, but being strong at moving external loads does not transfer to being good at moving your body weight.

Is this really true? For those of us interested in functional fitness what does this mean? Can we train only gymnastic bodyweight stuff and still be able to lift heavy boxes off the ground (deadlift), put heavy loads on shelves above our heads (shoulder press), and get an 80lb bag of ice melting salt onto our shoulder from the ground (clean)? These seem like things that only weightlifitng can achieve.

Just as important as these things is being able to pull myself up over fences (pull up), get onto a tree branch or onto scaffolding (muscle up), push myself onto a ledge that is chest height (dip) etc. These things are clearly only achievable through gymnastic training as it has been noted numerous times that meatheads have a hard time moving themselves through space.

I've also heard that bodyweight stuff causes less injuries and is better for people who aren't interested in sport as much as health, longevity, and enough functional fitness to easily achieve lifes daily tasks. Having said that, it is very hard to argue that deadlifts, presses and squats, aren't functional because they are the most functional lifts.

Sorry for the long post.

Steven Low
03-13-2010, 04:20 AM
Hey guys,
I read an interview with Coach Sommer and he said he's seen gymnasts with no lifting experience lift ridiculous amounts the first time they do. Here is an excerpt

Sommer: Gymnastics training does indeed build incredible strength. For example, I was not a particularly strong gymnast, yet I was able to do a double bodyweight deadlift and weighted chins with almost 50% extra bodyweight on my very first weight training attempts.
One of my studentís, JJ Gregory, far exceeded my own modest accomplishments. On his first day of high school weight lifting, JJ pulled a nearly triple bodyweight deadlift with 400 pounds at a bodyweight of 135 and about 5í3" in height. On another day, he also did an easy weighted chin with 75 pounds

I've also heard Ido Portal talk about this and say that being strong at moving your bodyweight transfers really well to moving external loads, but being strong at moving external loads does not transfer to being good at moving your body weight.

Is this really true? For those of us interested in functional fitness what does this mean? Can we train only gymnastic bodyweight stuff and still be able to lift heavy boxes off the ground (deadlift), put heavy loads on shelves above our heads (shoulder press), and get an 80lb bag of ice melting salt onto our shoulder from the ground (clean)? These seem like things that only weightlifitng can achieve.

Just as important as these things is being able to pull myself up over fences (pull up), get onto a tree branch or onto scaffolding (muscle up), push myself onto a ledge that is chest height (dip) etc. These things are clearly only achievable through gymnastic training as it has been noted numerous times that meatheads have a hard time moving themselves through space.

I've also heard that bodyweight stuff causes less injuries and is better for people who aren't interested in sport as much as health, longevity, and enough functional fitness to easily achieve lifes daily tasks. Having said that, it is very hard to argue that deadlifts, presses and squats, aren't functional because they are the most functional lifts.

Sorry for the long post.


IMO, weights are superior for strength for the lower body. There's no extremely good enough lower body stimulus for strength save sprinting and in most cases it needs to be supplemented by lifting. Plyometrics can do it, but it will take vastly longer. (Most of the good Parkour guys from about 3-5 years ago did not really do much S&C... much more of them now do though)

For upper body I believe, like Ido, that a correctly constructed bodyweight routine is superior to weights for strength. However, that does not mean supplemental weightlifting is detrimental or anything. Being able to master your own body gives huge proprioceptive and neural increases in strength due to odd angle torque in most cases. Much quicker than pure barbell work IMO.

Bodyweight work is not inherently safer -- yes, you can still injure yourself. But it's more likely that it will be from overuse than from say a heavy external load falling on you.

Am writing something on this now btw.

Blair Lowe
03-15-2010, 09:59 PM
Being able to master your own body gives huge proprioceptive and neural increases

To note, I've seen elite/high level gymnasts be able to pick up new sports and activities remarkably quickly such as parkour. They are such a master of their bodies, that they can learn new motor patterns very quickly.

It's been debated a lot but the conclusion was gymnasts have a definite edge into being able to pull heavy DL compared to any sort of squatting on day 1 due to the nature of their training (lots of grip strength, 1/4 squat in DL, lots of core strength).

It's also been noted that many gymnasts of lower or meager caliber could pick up new movements and activities relatively faster than non gymnasts.

There is something to be said about mastering your own body's movement.

Grissim Connery
03-16-2010, 10:51 AM
Sometimes i've thought about grappling as dealing with the hardest type of external load, another person. This is because it is constantly changing and purposefully trying to get to your weakest angles. when big strong guys first start training, you notice that they are always trying to grab the other guy and forcibly move him around. good guys at BJJ generally move themselves around more relative to the guy to obtain an optimal angle.

the key point learned over time is body awareness, and i feel that gymnastics helps with this very much. being able to control your own body and move it accordingly allows you to use the most advantageous position to get tasks done (even when you're in a leverage disadvantaged position like a planche).

aside from that, i feel that if you're going to use weights, you should just do the tasks that resist extremely high amounts of force. thus deadlifting and squatting are prime candidates since the possible weight you can use in these lifts causes much more force to be generated than many other lifts. likewise OL may be a bit less weight than DL and squat, but the acceleration aspect increases forces as well.

Patrick McIntosh
03-16-2010, 08:03 PM
I think this is a really good thread and I'm interested in reading Steven's article.

As an experiment for the past several months, I've been combining hard body weight work with a 70's big diet (I don't add weight to the bar, I just put more Wendy's Triple Baconators and milkshakes in my tummy). I'm bigger than when I was strictly BB orientated, but I feel like I'm relatively much stronger because I can draw so much more strength from my core now.

What would you guys say is the closest equivalent to a dead lift body weight-wise?
And with squats, which exercise (jump squats/sprints/etc) would bring about the greatest GH release?

Blair Lowe
03-16-2010, 11:53 PM
Sprinting probably has no equal for BW exercise when it comes to the lower body besides the fact it taxes just about everything.

closest equivalent to a dead lift body weight-wise?

Maybe if you do a depth jump off something very high. 1.5-2x body height. Basically really big dismounts.

Perhaps some ring strength holds that are very trying at maximal states since you will squeeze everything so hard.

Steven Low
03-17-2010, 06:19 AM
btw you shouldn't do depth drops off anything above waist height... not worth it on the joints.

one leg RDL or something like that is probably the closest to bodyweight you will get but you still need weights.

Blair Lowe
03-17-2010, 10:42 PM
How then to prepare for double and triple back? Look at high you are releasing off a set of rings or high bar or vault.

I'm just responding to the closest equivalent to a DL. Standing back when it comes to BW.

Of course, you could start using ankle or vest weights with BW movements but then you are basically using weights, so it makes it moot since we were looking for BW only.

5' depth jumps aren't really that difficult or taxing. It can be more of an issue building something 5' feet high to jump off. It's actually easier to just pullover onto a HB, step on and jump off than build something 7.5 feet tall to jump off, much less that's stable enough to climb and jump off (besides a ladder).

Steven Low
03-18-2010, 03:11 AM
Onto a hard surface? No way.

Onto a spring floor maybe. But why? You get enough punishment on the joints just building up to those skills from all of the other techniques you're landing in the first place. Unless you have a specific weakness you don't need to take anymore huge impacts on the joints....