Why are gymnasts built like MONSTERS?


If you’ve seen the male gymnasts that specialise on the rings or parallel bars you’ve seen it…..absolutely huge pecs, arms and shoulders and expert style and grace.


How the hell are they built like that when all they do is bodyweight exercises?


I love the powerlifts, and I will always recommend them to other athletes, I use them myself and I coach them inside Raw Strength, but learning new assistance exercises to build strength for the powerlifts is always an interesting topic….


I’ve recently been experimenting with using gymnastic exercises in my own training and for a few of my clients. The aim was to see if we could build some muscle and strength just like these gymnastic supermen, these are my thoughts so far:


  • Training dips, press-ups and other variations on the rings is just damn hard.


This is due to the wobbly and unstable nature of the rings themselves. Training the muscles to be more stable will improve performance on standard barbell lifts and thus help build more muscle.


  • Holding various static positions for time burns like hell.


Again, the body’s constant need for stability is tested during static holds and as the holds are usually in the strongest position AKA the lockout, we can lift a lot of weight and stimulate strength gains in the BIG muscle groups. Handstand holds, dip lockouts and other simple but hard static holds work really well, but they burn!


  • They are safer


A barbell doesn’t move, so sometimes when your shoulders or hips want to twist and turn (as they are naturally designed to do) the bar will lock you in and can cause overuse injuries.


Gymnastic movements are very safe and easy on the shoulders because they allow more ‘freedom’ for your body, basically your arms aren’t locked into one place but are free to move through space. Much healthier!


  • The simpler movements are easy to load


You probably ain’t a gymnast, so don’t try to progress to crazy gymnastic movements like a triple upside down piked handstand press-up. Whilst that would help build muscle and strength for sure, the 10 years of constant technique training and practice may not be doable! Just add weight rather than learning new variations….


Press-ups, pull-ups and other movements on gymnastic rings can be made much more difficult with weighted vests, weight belts etc. thus making these simple exercises TEN times more effective for strength and muscle gains. Takes 2 minutes to learn technique then you can progressively add weight until you are huuugggeee!

Before you ask, no I do not advocate the elimination of standard exercises like the bench press and deadlift. Get strong using the basics but add in some simple gymnastic movements, progress by adding some weight and enjoy the progress!


Any thoughts/questions/comments just drop em below!

Now go and train!

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