Recently in Gymnastics/Tumbling Category

In my last article (CrossFit Journal 67, March 2008), I talked about ways to scale down CrossFit workouts for beginners by using rings. This month we will be scaling up the difficulty of workouts for advanced athletes. There is absolutely no limit to how hard things can get on the rings. (There are a few moves in the Olympic gymnastics repertoire that even the best ringmen in the world cannot do.) So there are plenty of ring exercises available to endlessly challenge the non-specialists as well. Here are a few ideas on how you can scale up workouts by using rings.

1.Improve your technique.

Just doing the "most correct" version of even the basic ring exercises can boost the difficulty quotient considerably. If you are riding the straps on your ring dips and muscle-ups, then you are not getting the full benefit, or challenge, of the rings. The whole point of ring training is to work in a frictionless plane. If your arms are braced against the straps, then you are introducing friction and support. Using proper technique and keeping your arms off the straps instantly makes these exercises about 20 percent harder--and more beneficial.

2. Try ring push-ups.

In any workout that calls for regular push-ups, try substituting ring push-ups instead. Lower your rings to just above the floor and do push-ups while gripping the rings, with your toes on the floor. (Or, elevate your feet up to the level of the rings on a box, stack of mats, or what-have-you. Rings increase the depth you can get in the bottom of the push-up, just as parallettes do, but the instability factor makes them even harder. As mentioned above, don't ride the straps!

Gymnastics, as Coach Glassman says, "has no peer among training modalities" for developing the four neurological components of the ten physical skills that comprise real fitness--coordination, accuracy agility, and balance. These skills and the basic body control and complex movement patterns that gymnastics requires and develops are a critical part of full CrossFit programming, but they can seem intimidating or mysterious to those of us without a gymnastics background or specialized equipment. But it doesn't have to be that way: the basic moves are accessible to everyone on even basic equipment, with a bit of instruction, and are well worth learning (and learning to teach to your athletes, if you are a trainer or coach).

This video article, the second in a series of CrossFit oriented basic gymnastics drills on the pull-up bar with Jeff Tucker and Jason Malutich from GSX Athletics, gives hands-on demonstration of some progressions and drills almost anyone can use to work toward front and back levers. Coach Tucker works with some regular CrossFitters (even some big guys--to make the point that the benefits of gymnastics work aren't limited to small body types), starting with beginning inversion on the bar and progressing closer and closer to a full lever. Our coaches give lots of expert information in this video on safety and spotting techniques in as well.

Another fascinating and unique gymnastics resource from is the physical training manual Gymnastics and Tumbling, a fabulous reference book originally published by the U.S. Navy in 1944, available in its entirety here.

Gymnastics coach Jeff Tucker and assistant Jason Malutich take us through the intricacies of the L-pull-up and progressions for developing the strength and skill to execute it. They go over partials, assisted moves, spotting, negatives, and other incremental steps. They also scale it the other direction, showing progressively more difficult variations such as V-ups and weighted versions, for those who have already mastered the basic L.

Jeff Tucker (just "Tucker" to most folks) is a retired 20-year member of the Fort Worth Fire Department, where he served as a firefighter and arson/bomb investigator. He was head coach and director of Texas Christian University's gymnastics/cheerleading programs from 2001 to 2006, and he holds a multitude of degrees and certifications. He currently owns and operates GSX Athletics in Fort Worth, Texas, which specializes in Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, CrossFit, and private athletic instruction.

Gymnastics is one of the most the most versatile and potent tools for developing strength and fitness. But its vastness and complexity have left its value almost entirely untapped by most of the fitness community. With CrossFit, however, we have a unique framework for exploiting its fitness potential for non-specialists. Rings are the apparatus that develops the most strength, with the least technical learning curve (and with low equipment requirements). A beginner can easily and safely learn a number of moves on his first day. Most CrossFitters are familiar with ring dips and muscleups, but that is just scratching the surface.

In this article, we will look at ways you can scale workouts to make them more accessible for beginners by using the rings. Other reasons to substitute ring exercises for different moves include the portability and versatility of rings. You can develop as much upper-body strength with a set of rings as you can with dumbbells or even a barbell, and the whole set fits in a small backpack and can weigh as little as three pounds.

This article is all about making changes to CrossFit workouts, so I should mention a few things about programming first. When you are modifying a workout, the main goal should be to preserve the stimulus of the workout. Substitute apples for apples. If heavy squats are called for, then running ten miles is not a good substitution. If no weights or other heavy objects are available, then single-leg squats, jumping exercises, or even sprinting are closer approximations and better temporary substitutes for squats. Secondly, when you are scaling down a workout, the goal is to eventually do the whole thing as prescribed. So the substitutions here are also designed to reinforce basic skills that are vital to success later on.

The front lever is one of the basic strength holds on rings that is most attainable by a non-gymnast. It is an excellent exercise for developing a strong core and powerful pulling muscles. The front lever is also a good example of how gymnasts develop their impressive levels of strength without lifting weights (and it's very popular with rock climbers, as well). Instead of lifting progressively heavier weights to increase their strength, gymnasts work through progressions where they manipulate 1) leverage, 2) range of motion, or 3) momentum. The manipulation of leverage is a pretty well-known kind of progression; the other two are a bit less commonly known but still very useful.

The front lever involves holding your body in a rigid plank in a horizontal position under the rings, with straight arms and your body perfectly parallel to the ground. To "hit" the move in competition, gymnasts are required to hold it for a minimum of two seconds. Deductions are taken if there is any bend in the arms, if the body is not level to the ground, or if the line of the body is not straight. In gymnastics, all moves are assigned a grade from A to F in terms of difficulty. The muscle-up used to be an A-level skill, but it was recently demoted to zero value. The iron cross is a B-level skill. As difficult as it is, the front lever is only an A-level skill. Don't pass up the front lever because of its "easy" rating though.

Bucket Circles

| No Comments

The bucket and rope is, without a doubt, one of the best overall core-strength builders that I use. A basic principle that I always try to implement with my athletes is something I call strength with movement.

Working bucket circles properly, helps teach athletes to maximize their strength from the hips to the shoulders. You'll feel a complete workout in the abdominal area and entire trunk, deltoids, latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, pectorals, and rhomboids.

Remember, in order to properly execute a bucket circles, you have to work the exact muscle groups necessary to maintain the correct body "shape" required to successfully execute these circles. Not only are you trying to coordinate several circles, you're trying not to fall down.

You're essentially balanced on two arms (and briefly on one arm) while circling your entire body around your hands. This, in itself, requires a lot of strength and muscular stamina. This strength with movement exercise is great for total body strength coordination.

By this I mean, you're coordinating the large muscle groups (lats, pecs, traps, delts, "core," etc.) with the hundreds of smaller, even more important, muscles that exist that wouldn't otherwise be used by conventional strength exercises.

In my last article (issue 58), I discussed the ring row. It is an excellent horizontal pulling exercise and great for correcting muscle imbalances common in a lot of lifters. This month, I have some fun variations on the ring row for you. They incorporate variations on the basic movement pattern, and some also require more stabilization across the body and rotational strength.

Reverse row

This variation on the row targets an unusual movement pattern. In this variation, you will start in the usual position at an angle under the rings, with your arms fully extended, your heels on the ground, and your body held in a tight plank. Row the rings back behind your head with your palms facing your head. The movement pattern is similar to throwing a ball backwards.

Extended reverse row

The extended reverse row is similar to the regular reverse row, except you perform it with your arms kept straight throughout the movement. It is a good assistance exercise for learning how to swing on rings. It also taxes the posterior chain from top to bottom and can help to improve overhead stability in overhead squats. Most people are by far the weakest pressing backwards in the overhead position.

The ring row is known by many names, including body row, horizontal row, and reverse push-up. It is a valuable movement to have in your toolbox, as it provides a functional and effective horizontal pulling motion that is hard to duplicate. Its applicability to sports such as rock climbing and wrestling is fairly obvious. Its value extends to other sports as well, as a means of correcting muscle imbalances, improving midline stabilization, and training it provides an early stepping stone toward harder skills. Bulgarian gymnast Jordan Jovtchev describes it as a good movement for "creating the muscles for the front lever."

It is also a great movement for developing the strength required to do a pull-up. It is a good complement to working assisted pull-ups with a stretch band or assisted pull-up machine. It is also helpful for people who can do kipping pull-ups but struggle with strict ones. If a workout calls for pull-ups, you can scale it for non-pull-uppers by simply plugging in the ring row. For some trainees, a 1:1 substitution might be difficult, because no kipping is involved here. Start at a 1:2 or 2:3 ratio of ring rows to pull-ups, and see how it modifies the character of the workout for a given trainee, and adjust accordingly.

Last month I covered the support position on rings in significant detail. This month, we're going to build on that foundation and look at applications of the support position and variations on it that can add challenge to your training. We will also go into detail on an exercise that regularly appears in CrossFit workouts, the ring dip.

First though, let's talk about setting up your rings. I recommend spacing them 50 centimeters apart, which is the official distance. Personally, I don't measure out 50 centimeters every time I hook up my rings. Gymnasts have a clever tool for measuring out the right distance. They call it "your arm"--specifically the length of your forearm from the back of the elbow to the tips of your fingers. This distance tends to work well for most people. I usually add another inch or two, but you will figure out on your own what you like best. In any case, it's likely to be a width that puts the rings just outside your shoulder.

This article is the first in a series that will cover the fundamentals of gymnastics ring training in fine detail. We will begin with what is the foundation of ring work, the support. Although it may seem a straightforward and simple move (especially to those of you who have never had occasion to try rings yet), understanding the theoretical and practical details of the support will give you a deeper understanding of the potency of ring training in general.

The simplest description of a support is to hold your body above the rings with straight arms. Most people's first experience with ring training is entering the support position and shaking like a madman. This brings up a common misconception about the rings: that they are unstable. However, the rings have a fixed point of equilibrium. Push the rings and they will always, eventually, come back to where they started. So, if the instability you feel doesn't come from the rings, where does it come from? Your brain and central nervous system. Your brain is sending a signal to your arms to hold the rings still. Noise within the signal, like static on the radio, is what causes the shakes. As your signal to noise ratio improves, so does the stability of your support. The performance benefit here is that you are teaching your body to apply force more productively. Ring training is very effective at inducing this noise because the rings move in frictionless plane. The slightest change in muscular tension will cause movement in the rings because there is no friction to hold them in place.

The Front Handspring

| No Comments

A front handspring is a common gymnastics skill that is often demonstrated outside competitive gymnastics as well. There is an appeal to being able to run forward, kick through a handstand and spring back to your feet. It has also found application in the upper levels of other sports such as a handspring throw-in on the soccer field. While less intimidating and safer to learn than a back handspring, a front handspring is far more difficult to perform correctly.

Performing a correct front handspring requires you to override several natural reactions during the course of the skill. It also requires a strong kick accompanied by a strong push with the opposite leg. Good shoulder flexibility is necessary to optimize push off the floor and allow for efficient positioning.

There are two prerequisites to a front handspring. You must be able to do both a decent hurdle and a solid kick to handstand. The kick to handstand should go straight to the handstand with proper shoulder extension.

Gymnastics Hurdle

| No Comments

In gymnastics, a hurdle is the final preparatory step before performing a skill from a run. The purpose of the hurdle is to properly position yourself for the takeoff while maintaining and/or building momentum.

In most cases, a hurdle should be low and long. This will maintain forward momentum and allow sufficient time for preparatory positioning. There are a few exceptions, such as a hurdle on a diving board, where little forward momentum is available and the jumping surface is highly flexible, in which case a high hurdle is optimal.

Even if you have no plans to perform gymnastics or acrobatic movements from a hurdle, practicing a hurdle will have transferable benefit. It will improve footwork in any athletic endeavor where step adjustment is necessary, and it will improve your ability to navigate uneven surfaces rapidly and without injury.

You must know how to skip in order to have an effective hurdle. If you have not skipped since you were young, or have never skipped before, now is the time to begin practicing.

In last month's swing article, I discussed the basic principles behind the swing and detailed the mechanics of three different swings. This article will examine several other swings. But, first, let's review the four fundamental factors involved in generating and maximizing swing:

-Maximizing momentum in the downward phase of the swing
-Maintaining momentum throughout the swing
-Maximizing the application of force against gravity on the upward phase of the swing
-Minimizing loss of speed in the upward phase of the swing

The basket swing
A basket swing is any swing in which your shoulders and body are piked so that your center of gravity lies between your shoulders and the anchor point of the swing. This swing is difficult to develop. It has a very short swing cycle, and a small deficiency in the mechanics can have a dramatic dampening effect on the swing. This swing can be performed either straddled or piked, but will be discussed primarily as piked in this article.

The Swing

| No Comments

Generating and maximizing swing has application in a wide variety of activities and sports. From a gymnastics perspective, swing generally means swinging your body on an apparatus, but the principles and techniques apply to swinging objects with your body as well.

There are four fundamental factors involved with maximizing swing: maximizing momentum in the downward phase, maintaining momentum throughout the swing, maximizing the application of force against gravity in the upward phase, and minimizing loss of speed in the upward phase. All four factors are affected dramatically by body mechanics. Proper mechanics can make an enormous swing effortless, and improper mechanics will reduce a potential swing to a wiggle.

Maximizing momentum in the downward phase of the swing involves keeping your center of mass as far as possible from your anchor point (your hands). Moving your center of gravity an inch or two away from the anchor point can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the swing. Maintaining momentum throughout the swing is all about proper mechanics.

The Back Handspring


If you ask beginner gymnasts what skill they most want to learn, the most common answer is “a back handspring.” It is a visually impressive skill and is frequently used in performance arts and in movies. It is a functionally powerful movement and helps develop strength, power, and agility. Learning to do a back handspring properly and safely also requires individuals to overcome fear and override many reflexive instincts. Overcoming these obstacles is a valuable skill in itself—one that carries into other aspects of training—and life.

Fear is a significant factor in learning a back handspring. The fear response is a good thing. Executed improperly or without appropriate progressions, an attempted back handspring can lead to serious injury. Follow all steps correctly and thoroughly. Ensure that you have the right equipment (including mats and pads) and spotting for each of the stages.

The first step in learning a back handspring is learning how to sit back properly. The main direction of the back handspring is backward, not upward. This is somewhat counterintuitive, and you must learn how to sit back properly so your jump travels backward. Find a stack of mats that is just below hip height. Stand facing away from the mats with your heels about two feet away from them. From this position, sit back and jump backward onto the mats. You should try to travel as far across the mat as possible leading with your hands. During the sit, your torso and lower leg should remain vertical. You must bend at the hip and the knee so that your hips track well behind your knees, and your knees stay directly above, or just behind your feet.

Performing handstand push-ups (HSPUs) without the support of a wall or spotter dramatically increases the demands of the movement. The stabilization required during the movement provides a stimulus that is simply not present when the HSPU is assisted. Regularly performing freestanding HSPUs will dramatically improve any overhead lifting or throwing activities. The following article provides a progression for developing the ability to do a freestanding HSPU, starting with no handstand experience whatsoever.
This process may take years for many people.

Beginning handstands

Many people will be intimidated simply by the concept of doing a handstand. Fears of falling and/or not being able to support themselves with their arms will be the primary hindrances early on. Proper positioning and a gradual progression will take trainees through this process safely and quickly.

The first step to a handstand is simply to learn how to be comfortable in a hand support. A vertical handstand is not necessary to start this process. Start with a folded panel mat, plyo box, or other stable raised surface. Stand in a shallow lunge in front of the object with arms overhead.

Got Rings? Now What?

| No Comments

Because of constant pestering from the CrossFit community, you have now acquired a pair of rings. So, now what? You know what a muscle-up is, maybe you can do some dips on the things, but there's got to be more, right? Absolutely! A pair of rings has limitless possibilities for training. Common exercises take on a whole new dimension when performed on the rings, and many ring exercises can be performed nowhere else.

Ring rows

A ring row is an excellent beginner drill to progress an individual toward pull-ups. Start with the rings at just above shoulder height. Grab the rings and lean back until your arms are straight, to place tension on the straps. Keep your body straight and tight and pull your shoulders to the rings. As strength increases, simply lower the rings so that your body is closer to being horizontal when you lean back.

Hang pull-through to skin the cat pull-out

A hang pull-through to skin the cat pull-out is a sequence of movements that works basically every muscle group from the mid-thigh up, while providing an excellent shoulder stretch as well. Starting in a hang and keeping your arms and legs straight, lift your toes up and back overhead, through a piked inverted hang. Then, continue to lower your toes slowly toward the floor behind you. This hanging position is called a skin the cat.

The press to handstand is an incredible tool for developing strength in the shoulders and upper back. It is also an impressive feat in its own right. While a press to handstand is not terribly difficult to execute once learned, it can take a while to develop the required strength, flexibility, and understanding of the technique. Once learned, it can be modified continually to progressive increase the demands of the skill.

Some flexibility is essential to execute a press handstand with correct technique. The ability to do a decent "pancake" (a forward bend with straight back from a seated straddle or pike on the floor, so that your chest contacts the floor or your legs) will help maximize efficiency of the movement. (See issue 41 of the CrossFit Journal for tips on improving flexibility.)

Most of the following handstand drills can be performed either on the floor or on parallettes. In general, working the drills on parallettes will make the movements easier. The parallettes create a more stable base for the handstand as well as providing more clearance for presses from the L or straddle L. If you use parallettes, start with your feet on a mat or other raised surface so your feet are level with your hands to start. Once you begin to develop some proficiency with the move, you can lower or remove the mats.

Parallettes are an indispensable piece of training equipment. Fortunately, they are inexpensive, easy to make, light, and portable. With bodyweight exercises alone, incredible strength can be developed simply by selecting positions that will increase muscle loading. The range of exercises they can introduce to a training program is enormous. If you have not already purchased or made a set of parallettes, do so.

Static Holds

Practicing isometric contractions under load has been proven to be very effective in strength development. Some studies have shown dramatic strength increases with nothing but isometric contraction exercises. These static holds can be introduced into your training program in a variety of ways:

1. Include them in conditioning circuits as fixed holds. E.g., hold an L-sit for 30 seconds.

2. Accumulate holds up to a certain total time. E.g., do handstands until you have 60 cumulative seconds of holding time; try to minimize the number of attempts.

3. Perform a larger number of shorter holds. E.g., do ten sets of 5-second ball planches.

Gaining flexibility is primarily about discipline. It requires neither great pain nor specialized knowledge of particular tricks. The primary key to gaining flexibility is simply to stretch often. If you do not stretch, or do so only sporadically, your gains in flexibility will be limited. To improve your flexibility, you should stretch at least once a day, and, if possible, multiple times per day. Short, repeated exposure to stretching is more productive than a single intense or long bout of stretching. For example, it is far better to stretch ten minutes per day, every day, than to stretch 70 minutes once a week. Stretching is also a long-term commitment and must be continued indefinitely to maintain and/or increase flexibility.

Flexibility is not something that automatically comes with strength training. On the contrary, strength training without stretching can lead to dramatic reduction in flexibility. In many cases, when taken to the extreme, such a lack of flexibility will result in loss of "normal" function, not to mention loss of high-performance function so important to athletes.

Making significant increases in flexibility will bring marked improvement in performance.

The cartwheel is a foundational movement critical for gymnastics development. For non-gymnasts as well, practicing cartwheels develops kinesthetic awareness and flexibility, as well as strength and stability in hand support. Learning a cartwheel can be difficult for some, but the progressions below can be used by anyone, including the young and the not so young, to work toward a cartwheel.


A "right" cartwheel begins with the right leg forward, with the right hand the first to contact the ground. A "left" cartwheel leads with left the foot, with the left hand contacting the ground first. (Note that a "right" cartwheel is a left-twisting skill. A left twist is one in which the left shoulder travels backward relative to the body in motion.)

First Drill

This drill teaches the basic movement of a cartwheel and helps mitigate many common beginners' mistakes. Place a folded panel mat or other stable object in the tumbling area. Stand in a straddle at the end of the panel mat and place both hands on the panel mat. Jump from one foot to the other, keeping weight on your hands. As you feel more comfortable, kick the jump higher and pass through a straddled handstand. Ensure that your shoulders remain open and your head stays neutral throughout this exercise.

Backward Roll Drills

| No Comments

Initial Drill: "Pizza Rocks" Hold your hands, palms up, out to your sides at shoulder height, as if you're holding a pizza in each. Your fingertips should be pointed back and elbows pointed forward. Sit and roll back, keeping your eyes on your toes, to candlestick and "squash the pizzas" on the floor behind you. While pressing your palms into the floor by your ears, roll forward to stand. As you get more comfortable with the drill, you can push and begin to lift yourself a little off the floor.

Tucked Backward Roll: Start this skill standing stretched with arms straight up overhead, not allowing them to drop forward. Then sit and lift your feet to roll onto your back. As you rock onto your shoulders, "squash the pizzas." Keep driving your toes over your head in the direction you are rolling. Push on the floor with your hands as you roll over and stand up. Drive the roll by lifting your toes over your head, not by throwing your head or shoulders back. Keep your feet and knees together, and keep watching your toes throughout the motion. Do not allow your knees to land on the ground as you roll over.

The Forward Roll

| No Comments

The forward roll has a tremendous number of applications outside the gym. In a forward fall, most people will sprawl. Practicing and getting completely comfortable with a forward roll will change this reaction. In a forward fall, rolling out will greatly reduce impact and allow for a continuation of movement that gets you to your feet with little or no interruption. Just performing the forward roll improves kinesthetic awareness and engages a large number of muscle groups.

Initial Drill

Candlestick roll to stand: Start in a stand, squat down, roll into a tucked candlestick (http://www.drillsandskills. com/images/display?path=candlestick.jpg) position, and roll back up to standing without using your hands. Repeat this drill with extending to a full candlestick before rolling up to a stand.

Tucked Forward Roll

Start in a squat on the balls of your feet with knees together. Place your hands flat on the floor with spread hands. While maintaining pressure on your hands, tuck your head and place the back of your head between your hands while pushing with your legs to roll over forward. Maintain a rounded back by contracting your abs, and keep looking at your knees. As you roll forward, try to maintain momentum to roll up onto your feet and stand up without pushing off the floor with your hands. Your arms should just reach forward at the end of the roll.

Everyman's Gymnastics

| No Comments

Competitive Gymnastics in the Media

When the term "gymnastics" is used in the United States, most people immediately visualize only what is available on television. TV coverage of gymnastics is generally limited to the World Championships, the Olympics, or some other international meet showing the general public the true elites of the sport. These elite, however, include a staggeringly small portion of the individuals involved in some form of gymnastics. Most athletes in the sport never compete at all, much less at the level that is seen by the general public. So why participate in gymnastics if not to compete?

Gymnastics as Foundational Fitness

Gymnastics training is tremendously effective as a foundational fitness program for any physical activity. This specific training develops strength, flexibility, body awareness, and agility that cross over extremely well to other physical activities. The degree of control and body awareness cultivated in gymnastics training is unrivaled. Gymnastics develops functional movements that are often otherwise neglected but are extremely useful in other sports and in everyday activities. The kids in any schoolyard that consistently outperform their peers in fitness tests (frequently by large margins) are usually gymnasts.

Gymnastics & Tumbling


This month we review a small yet dense out-of-print book titled Gymnastics and Tumbling. First published by the U.S. Navy in 1944, Gymnastics and Tumbling is today an obscure reference in danger of extinction. We believe it is an indispensable resource for CrossFitters and intend to keep it alive.

Shortly after the United States' entrance into World War II, the United States Navy implemented a physical training program for future pilots based on training and practicing various sports: "Successful coaches were commissioned so that the Navy might have the best instruction available." The successes, methods, and refinements of these coaches-turned-officers culminated in the issuance of the Naval Aviation Physical Training Manuals by the U.S. Navy in 1944.

The manuals were prepared by and for the newly commissioned officers from their experiences in teaching thousands of aviation cadets.

"With enough rubberbands anyone can do gymnastics." Our often-repeated claim that CrossFit is "designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience" finds its greatest challenge with bodyweight exercises - the stuff we call "gymnastics." By contrast, weight training and weightlifting exercises scale readily, if not obviously, by simply reducing loads.

With training bars and training plates we've been able to introduce the major lifts like squats, deadlifts, presses and jerks, cleans, and the snatch to all comers, including seniors, regardless of ability. This approach is not novel; many of the most successful and sophisticated weightlifting programs start everyone out with PVC pipe or wooden dowel systems of negligible weight and only increase loads in tiny increments when execution is good.

But bodyweight exercises create a special dilemma. Most women, seniors, and larger men are typically challenged to complete a single rep of even the most rudimentary bodyweight movements. This is most true of basic upper body exercises like the pull-up, push-up, or dip.

For years assisted pull-up and dip machines like the Stairmaster Gravitron have been our staple for introducing, training, and developing bodyweight exercises.

Ring Strength

| 1 Comment

The exact time and place where rings first appeared is unknown but it is widely accepted that they evolved from a trapeze-like device that by 1816 featured loops fashioned from knotted rope.

What is more certain but poorly understood is that for nearly 150 years the men that worked the rings were in possession of an upper body strength that finds no equal in weightlifting or other calisthenics. The ringman, pound for pound, presents more upper body strength, along more lines of action, than any other athlete.

The fitness that CrossFitters demonstrate cannot be found without ring training. Gymnastics rings occupy a place in our training that only the barbell can match. Kettlebells and dumbbells, medicine balls and stretch bands, while essential to our practice, are second tier tools to the rings.

The Handstand

| No Comments

Handstands, hand walking, and pressing to the handstand are critical exercises to developing your athletic potential and essential components to becoming "CrossFit."

Historically, these exercises have been collectively referred to as "hand balancing" and have been an integral part of strength and health culture since antiquity, yet today hand balancing seems to have followed the passenger pigeon to extinction.

Examining the twin questions "what has been lost by this extinction?" and "what does hand balancing offer that makes it essential?" is the aim of this month's Journal. The answers to these questions motivate a challenge for our readers for the New Year.

The quick and obvious analysis as to hand balancing's benefits would include improved balance and increased shoulder strength, and though accurate, ending the analysis here doesn't speak to the singularly unique advantages to this training.

There are countless successful protocols for increasing shoulder strength and balance, but training the handstand and presses to the handstand improves proprioception and core strength in ways that other protocols cannot. Let's examine this claim more closely.

Being upside down exposes the athlete to, what is for many, a brand new world.


Powered by Movable Type 4.2-en

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Gymnastics/Tumbling category.

ExPhysiology is the previous category.

Kettlebells is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.