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Troy Kerr 10-02-2009 08:43 PM

Gymnastic Routine Update
I developed my own gymnastics routine and have been following it strictly for the past month. It had some positive points about it, and some other parts of it were questionable. I would like some input on the routine to help improve upon it. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for how to improve it for my next 4 weeks that would be great.

In this program that I designed I was attempting to create a gymnastic/weightlifting hybrid, geared towards developing gymnastic skills. In it I work monday, tuesday, thursday, and friday. The goal of the program was to help develop my back lever, elbow lever, and handstand.
While following this program I was able to progress in my back lever fairly well. I can lower myself into the lever position while in a tuck, then extend into a lever for 8-10 seconds.
I can get into an elbow lever position for 2-3 seconds fully extended. However I am fairly gased after 10-20 seconds of work on this skill. My elbow lever seemed to develop with my dips and back lever.
I can stay with a 5x5 HSPU well. However the last 2 sets are a struggle. I can also hold a handstand off the wall for 2-3 seconds depending on my energy and focus.

-Back Lever Progression: Tucked lever, 60 seconds of work.
-Pull-ups 3x of as many as possible, or no pull-ups at all.
-Dips- 5x3
- Possibly another pushing movement such as bench

- Handstand Push-up: 5x As many as possible
- Overhead Press: 3x5 or 3x3
-Squat: 5x5 or 5x3
- Maybe lunges 5x5 depending on energy.

Wednesday: Rest

-Elbow lever- Elbow lever x 60 seconds
- Maybe bench press- 4x5
- Weighted pull-up: 4x5 or 4x3
- Bent over row: 4x5 or 4x3
- skin the cat- 4x3

Deadlift: 5x3
Headstand to press: 10x1
Push-press: 5x5

Saturday & Sunday : Rest

My questions for this routine is as follows:
Regarding volume, sets, and rest, for assistance and primary movements, how does it look?
Opinions on my movement selection?
The levers:
-Should I only work back and elbow levers once a week?
- For the days I am alternating which lever I am emphasizing, am I following the right amount of assistance exercises? What about their volume?
Handstand Push-up:
- Is working the HSPU twice a week sufficient enough work to develop a free standing handstand?
- By throwing in assistance movements such as a press, that require one to execute a full ROM, is this full ROM necessary?
- Will throwing in headstands, and headstand to press, have a sufficient carry-over to the HSPU?
My goal is to progress to a pistol squat. However my current squat needs work, primarily flexibility strength in the bottom position. Is there anything more I could be doing besides squats, and deadlifts?

While following this routines recovery was not that big of an issue. I was sore some days but nothing unbearable. I ate a 16 block paleo-zone diet. I am 5"9, 178-180, and I would guess around 12-13% body-fat, possibly less.

I appreciate everyones time and effort while answering this, hopefully I can get some answers.

Blair Lowe 10-03-2009 02:48 AM

the only way to improve your free standing handstand is to work the free standing handstand. some supplementary exercises are the wall HS and wall runs/hand shifting. other than that it's pretty much kicking up to HS and feeling it out.

headstands teach the proper body position for the handstand and basic coordination and awareness. they do build very rudimentary upper body strength but nothing grand at your level. Doing headstand to handstand is of course a great tool for press strength, especially free from the bottom and connected (which require a free HS).

elbow lever? i don't get it. it's cool to show off but why not work the planche for any gains. elbow lever to handstand or back is good for upper body strength. elbow lever requires the midline strength of the BL and enough upper body bent arm strength to hold (just like shoulderstand on rings or PB require some bent arm strength unlike the headstand). it does exert bent arm strength but, well I just dunno. it can turn into a lot of neat tricks and holds in breakerdom and capoeira

I am very defensive about the back lever, i believe it's one of the basic things you need to train like L-sits. when you have mastered it, perhaps you can train it seldom just to maintain, 1x a week and perhaps once in a ring series. it's not a huge deal if you can't train it because of equipment but it is very useful for a lot of reasons people skip. honestly though, I don't really train L-sits except as a start position for skill work or transitory position. also it tends to be more painful to train than front lever.

the pistol or SLS is a skill, imo. It isn't so strength related as it is necessary to build the coordination and flexibility. I have had very weak gymnasts and I'm not talking about just the weakest team kids but young recreational or beginning gymnasts get the SLS with a very small amount of leg strength. However, they had the basic flexibility with just enough strength and coordination and balance.

Troy Kerr 10-03-2009 12:58 PM

I that the BL and EL would be a great choice for to obtain basic gymnastic strength. So based on what you said, what would you recommend in a training routine? I have my own set of rings, and a spot to mount them so equipment is not really an issue.

Steven Low 10-03-2009 02:39 PM


1. You need to be working your handstands everyday. At least put 5-10 minutes into it. Get a perfect handstand and you will be surpirsed how fast your skills will come along. You can put this before your workout routines because it's skill work.

HSPUs will not develop a freestanding handstand, although correct handstand and handstand press work may develop you a freestanding HSPU.

2. Base your reps on how hard exercises are. Don't make them "set in stone" before you're going in unless you know you can only push out that many reps. Try to stay 1 rep short of failure, especially earlier in the routine.

3. like Blair said... drop the elbow lever for planche. Practice your elbow lever after your workout if you want or at other times during the day.

4. errr, go with what Blair said for everything else.

Aim for 1-2 push, 1-2 pull, and 1-2 leg exercises each day besides the handstands

Neill Smith 10-04-2009 10:53 AM


Originally Posted by Steven Low (Post 63519)

1. You need to be working your handstands everyday. At least put 5-10 minutes into it.

What would 5-10 minutes of daily handstand work look like?

Troy Kerr 10-04-2009 12:21 PM

Neill- Probably something along the lines of hold a handstand as long as you can, then rest.

Steven & Blair- I appreciate your input considerably. With this information, would you suggest still following a mon,tues,thur, friday work week. If so, how would you recommend going about the exercise split?

Steven Low 10-04-2009 12:59 PM

No, you only hold your handstands until your form deteriorates. Don't hold them after it starts getting broken. Avoid the bad habits.

When you first start you may only get ~5-10s each time you do it. Accrue as much time as you can in that 5-10 minutes. BUT only with good form. Usually rest a minute between sets. As you get better, you can go longer and take shorter rests.

Technique = Stomach facing the wall, hands as close ot the wall as possible, shoulders all the way open, slightly hollow position with only toes touching the wall.


As I suggested aim for:

1-2 push, 1-2 pull, and 1-2 leg exercises each day besides the handstands

M,tu,th,f works to start.

Blair Lowe 10-11-2009 05:53 PM

This is more of a guide than a routine. http://gymnasticbodies.com/forum/vie...hp?f=18&t=1794

It sort of depends where you are.

Currently, for my beginning boys they are working something like this:

1 Tuck planche attempt. Planche lean on single rail or parallettes for 10s or with spot. Some sort of pushing element. Sometimes basic pushups on floor if need be or handstand pushup progression or ring pushup or some dip progression. Sometimes planche walk ( lean in planche position till they fall on chest, push back and try again 10x or 20 feet ). Sometimes L-sit instead of planche lean or both.

1 Negative BL or BL progression for 10s. Some boys cannot hold it horizontally so they work 1 where they go "slow-mo". Usually this is followed with skin the cats or rope climb.

1 Body lever for 10s. Most of the boys at this stage cannot hold or do a negative FL of any kind. Typically they'll work leg lifts of some kind or floor wipers, hollow to arch rocks -basically core/midline conditioning.

Dynamic/Isokinetic/FBE is generally around 10 reps.

HS work after WU is something like this. Come to think about it, I think I will add wall HS or wall runs from now on.

Bridge rocks or one legged bridge bridge leg swings. 2 sets of 5

(Split)Handstand to bridge and kickover back to lunge-5x. A split HS is a one legged front split HS.

Handstand to bridge (ideally stand up). Since they can't stand up, they work 5 good bridge wall walks. Sometimes it takes many attempts (20).

Perhaps back bends to bridge and kickover. Only if they can do bridge kickover on floor.

Headstand or press to headstand. 2-5x, maybe 10. Fewer reps for those who are very good at it.

Headstand to bridge. I don't use this one a lot but I should.

Donkey kicks 10x. I don't care whether it's tuck, pike, or straddle. Just try and get to handstand with straight arms. Sometimes I let them try on the trampoline.

Jump press from kneeling on floor to HS. Sometimes I allow them to jump from a straddle stand. Only worth doing if they can donkey kick decently.

Handstand press downs against wall 3-10 varying

3-5 HS presses. Sometimes a few spotted on parallel bars. They are not ready for it on rings, but I work them myself.

5-10 kick to HS and hold(walking ok).

40 feet of forward HS walking. Right now 20 feet of backwards and sideways HS on both sides. If they cannot do any of this, they work on wall runs or wallruns "free".

Sometimes, we do forward roll, jump press to HS on floor in WU. Sometimes in our HS work.

At the end of this, typically HS pirouette work. Pointless if they don't have a decent HS. I don't spot this really because if they can't do a decent HS, they just be on the wall doing a wall HS or wall runs.

Typically we will do graduated pistols or SLS on a block followed by glute bridges or floor glute ham. Sometimes we do bulgarian split lunges instead. I use weight and sometimes they do as well. However some are uncoordinated so they don't.

We also do depth jump and rebound or bounding series or sprints if we can. Most of the time we can't set up the later 2 because of space issues in gym.

2 days a week I do leg workouts for strength and the other 2 for power.

I like MTuThF. However my boys are in the gym only 2d a week so they do 2 days focusing on strength, 1 focusing on power.

Steve is of the opinion that beginners should work on more isokinetic/FBE/dynamic exercises than statics but I still want my boys to work the statics to some degree.

Typically beginners still have L-sit and straddle L-sit work at the end of the day to finish up besides any joint prevention and stretching. I'm bad about this myself sometimes, especially if running out of energy.

Troy Kerr 10-14-2009 02:29 PM

Blair- Thanks a lot for taking the time to post that routine. What I gathered from it was basically a lot of emphasis on handstand work? Currently I can lower into a back-lever while tucked, and only extend into the full lever after reaching horizontal. As far as my planche goes, I can get into a tuck planche for a 5-6 seconds at a time. I know you said that is a guideline that is based around where one is at. Taking my current levels though, what would you recommend as far daily routine? Would you recommend my keeping more of an emphasis on the handstand drills and only give partial time to the Planche and back-lever progressions?

Steven Low 10-14-2009 06:06 PM

Handstand helps EVERYTHING.. especially all pressing movements including planche. Developing a proper straight arm press handstand and free standing 30-60s perfect form handstand is critical to strength development. At least, fast strength development.

Handstand work everyday
warm up with basic skills
then isometrics integrated with push/pull/1-2 legs each.
Then active flexibility work

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