Why Are Gymnasts So Ripped?
In case you haven’t noticed, the Olympics are on every single TV channel. Each night, my girlfriend, my roommate, and myself all chill out and watch the coverage for a few hours. Coverage in Canada is a lot different than other countries. Obviously, the events where Canadians are doing well will have top priority. Besides that, the events that get covered are ones that have great stories. For example, every Michael Phelps event will be shown (22 Olympic medals all time is more medals than Canada will get in this year’s summer Olympics). After that, you will have your premiere events like the 100m sprint and a bunch of gymnastics.
Which leaves me to the question: why are gymnasts so freakin’ ripped? They only ever workout with their bodyweight, but in turn, they are jacked as hell. Seriously, just Google Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti and you’ll see. These guys are ripped.
If you check out any gymnastics highlights, it’s pretty evident that these athletes have some pretty incredible strength, stability, and mobility (iron cross anyone?). With this strength, comes hypertrophy. Now, obviously they weren’t always this strong. Gymnastics is a sport that people start to take part in at a super young age. I’ve seen gymnastics classes for 3 year olds. These Olympians are no exception.
According to Dan John, “Once you’ve decided to specialize you have 8 years. If you aren’t Elite or World class in 8 years you aren’t good enough.” Most of these gymnasts are pretty much elite by the time they are 11 or 12 years old. By this time, they know that they have a chance to compete as an elite athlete and their training will reflect that. This means they will start training 2-6 hours per day at their sport. That’s upwards of 36 hours per week. Do you think that if you worked out for 36 hours per week you would be jacked too? Something tells me, hellz yes.
Now, I’m not saying that you, yourself, can’t get pretty jacked from just using bodyweight exercises. I think bodyweight exercises are some of the most underutilized exercises for building lean mass, strength, and burning fat. The real reason that no one does them is because they are tough. Tough work breeds results my friends.
If you were just starting out with bodyweight exercises, you wouldn’t jump up on the rings, do a few muscle ups and then finish off with an iron cross. That would be ridiculous. You’d want to start with basic exercises like strict pullups, strict dips (no kips), handstand holds against the wall, L-sits, regressed planches, and front levers. Once you master these exercises, you can move on to harder progressions.
In the past 6 months, I’ve been playing around with gymnastics bodyweight exercises and have noticed a huge carryover in strength with weights, as well as more upper body definition.
Here are some Youtube videos of the exercises I described above.
Try out these movements in your next workouts. Always try to do 1 more rep or hold the movement for 1 more second each workout. In time, you will become bigger and stronger, and might actually become almost as ripped as a gymnast.
Bodyweight Exercise Challenge
Try front lever pullups. I still can’t do these, but I know I will be able to one day.
Try out the exercises above. If you love them, then bodyweight training might be for you. A lot of people have been asking me for a bodyweight program that will build muscle. Luckily, I have a few great resources for you.
If you are interested in pure gymnastics (rings, parallel bars, etc) then check out Chris Sommer’s Building the Gymnastic Body.
If you’re looking for a pure bodyweight program for building lean mass, then I can’t speak more highly for Zach Even Esh’s Bodyweight Bodybuilding Secrets. The program is seriously awesome and it’s one of the few bodyweight programs that I actually support. You can check it out by clicking here.
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