During this time of the year, most gymnastics teams are in full swing starting competition season. This brings with it lots of routines, cardio focus, and power based strength work to maximize meet performance.

Our gym is in the same boat, and we have been doing a ton of physical preparation work alongside routines to maintain the last 6 months worth of progress. I wanted to share two of my go-to more power based exercises I have been putting in a lot of our cardio circuits. They are standing rope slams, and standing med ball slams.

I will say that a few of these gymnasts are still learning the technique to do these correctly, and under fatigued conditioned like above started to lose their full overhead hip and tight arch extensions. Despite not being exactly gymnastics specific, these exercises have very beneficial components like

  • Teaching full overhead shoulder eccentric control, and force coupling to shoulder extension seen in many common gymnastics skills
  • Teaching how to transfer force from the ground, through the hips and core, into the shoulders
  • Integrating whole body metabolic workouts
  • Teaching hip and shoulder based power creation and squat deceleration to reduce lower back stress
  • Being very easily scalable to all athletes (lighter ropes, foam cubes instead of medicine balls for younger athletes, etc)

Ideally, the gymnast should

  • Start with the rope or medicine ball at waist heigh, and by using their hips and shoulders with a very engaged core, forcefully bring the rope/medicine ball into a fully extended overhead position
  • While rapidly changing shape, the gymnast then will pull the rope/medicine ball down with as much force as possible. I often use the cue of “trying to put a hole in the floor with the medicine ball” or  “making the biggest wave you can with the rope”.
  • The forceful down motion should be controlled with by transferring force through a squat based position, not by bending over at the waist.
  • Once the pattern is learned, gymnasts can go faster and with more emphasis on extension and slamming force

Want to Learn More?

If you find this information helpful, and want to learn all my thoughts on Gymnastics energy systems, be sure to download my free e-book, the “Gymnastics Cardio Guide” here,

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  • Outlines the why and how for training cardio in gymnastics
  • Explains the basic energy systems, how to train them, and why it's crucial to prepare gymnasts for routines
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One of the reasons that I use these all the time is for their ability to teach the basics of shape changing, overhead control, and hip dominant power production. When done correctly, they can help build proper tight arch (when ropes or med balls are in full overhead extension) into rapid force production, followed by a squat based deceleration position (thinking dismount or tumbling landings). There are some other variations built off these basics that can be used, but I find myself going to these often. Give them a shot, and hope these videos helped!

Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS

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