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Troy Kerr 01-20-2010 04:08 PM

Weightlifting as a substitute
I was browsing around on the crossfit.com archives awhile back and managed to find several pictures where dumbbells are being used to mimic positions such as the planche, and iron cross. Just wondering if there is any real carry over between these movements.

Steven Low 01-20-2010 05:49 PM

Iron cross doesn't work unless you're upside down.

Planche, maltese, etc. yes do work.

However, based on my experience it's superior to move your BODY through space even with assisted exercises rather than moving weights through space. No study to confirm this but it's basically like saying pullups are better than lat pulldowns. We all know what is superior.

Troy Kerr 01-20-2010 05:56 PM

Yeah I totally agree. I also recognize the difference between an assistance movement and a core movement. The one for the planche has a man laying down with his arms extended and the dumbbells over his waist, so basically an upside down planche. The one for the iron cross has the arms extended at the sides with the palms facing the ceiling.

Donald Lee 01-20-2010 07:37 PM

I think the usefulness of dumbbells for assistance exercises depends on the individual gymnast.

A weak gymnast who can't even do the basic progressions could use dumbbells for assistance exercises, but he'd probably be better served by doing dynamic strength work.

Dumbbells obviously can be used to scale as well, if spotters or other scaling devices are unavailable.

In my uneducated opinion, dumbbells are most useful for intermediate-advanced gymnasts who can already do the static holds, but need the extra work either to develop the muscles or to sustain the muscles in the necessary joint angles and in the transitions between holds. I reckon getting on the rings and training can be extremely stressful on the body, so it may be wise to utilize dumbbells during certain periods of some gymnasts' training cycle.

Of course, more advanced gymnasts already have core strength and body control, while beginner-intermediate gymnasts may not. That needs to be kept in mind in deciding whether to implements dumbbells or implement scaling.

If I'm off-base, Steven or Blair can correct me.

Steven Low 01-20-2010 08:15 PM

I agree with Donald here.

Basically, you use DBs/barbells like you would curls for high level athletes or BBers -- to bring up weak links or something specific like that.

Otherwise, you're better off practicing movements that are more similar to the movements you are trying to accomplish. Aka bodyweight work.

If you don't have access to rings or something then sure go for it. Something that is a decent substitute will be effective and may even let you progress some without having access to the proper equipment.

Blair Lowe 01-20-2010 10:55 PM


I've never tried the DB exercises that simulate cross, planche, or maltese; but I did use a cable pulley machine to work MU and crosses.

Unfortunately, none of these simulate the instability of the rings which is why spotting or assisted spotting (harness and pulleys/dream machine, trainers, block/bands) are probably superior to the DB exercises alone.

Grissim Connery 01-21-2010 08:47 AM

one benefit i noticed with using DB in this manner was to feel out shoulder position. since i still feel a good deal of elbow pressure when doing a supinated german hang (maybe its pronated cause the palms are actually facing the floor in this case hah), my shoulders tend to move in bad ways to compensate. this is partially what led to me having shoulder troubles and having to do rehab. i will do the DB holds occasionally because i can focus on keeping my shoulders in proper positions and work on increasing my bicep flexibility.

also after i finished shoulder rehab and eventually came back to muscle ups, even a kipping muscle up was too difficult. hanging upside down from a bar and using DB to simulate a muscle up helped a lot mainly because i could do it extremely slowly. otherwise it was just too hard to simulate the tension of the transition. also i played around with narrow and wide muscle up motions.

Blair Lowe 01-21-2010 10:45 PM

Cable pulley machine or those Total gyms can be pretty handy in that case, Grissim.

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