Developing cardio systems in gymnasts is beyond important, for both performance and safety.
On the performance side, better endurance allows gymnasts to make it through full routines that have high-level skills. It also is what allows them to make it through an entire meet or practice without burnout out. Thinking beyond this, having a good “engine” as it’s commonly referred to, allows gymnasts to get through entire training weeks.
From the safety point of view, poor endurance makes it extremely risky to perform routines and full practices. As fatigue sets in, dismounts and final tumbling passes become super dangerous. Power production, cognition, and our bodies sense of spatial awareness decline with increasing fatigue levels. Trying to finish a long practice or heavy training week also becomes riskier when gymnasts accumulate fatigue throughout the training week.
One of the best ways I have found to not only stay safe, increase routine performance, and also get more out of gymnasts at training, is by completely overhauling the way I approach cardio training. Growing up competing and as a younger coach, it was just building up routines to eventually doing back to back sets, and in the summer doing a lot of outdoor running or sprints.
My coach was doing the best he could, and I do think that various pieces of gymnastics specific endurance are still super valuable to learn. However, there are absolutely better ways to approach cardio training than routines and long runs.
In the last 5 years, I have learned a significant amount about energy systems training, and how gymnastics could do a better job preparing athletes for the demands of competition.
One person who I am very lucky to have learned from is aerobic capacity expert Chris Hinshaw. He has completed over 10 Ironmans as an athlete and has worked with hundreds of elite level individuals across many sports as a coach.
He is one of the most sought after endurance coaches in the world, and I was lucky to chat with him recently about how he thinks the sport of gymnastics could approach metabolic training better. On the newest episode of The SHIFT Show, he shares his thoughts on
- Why gymnasts need aerobic training, not just sprint work
- How gymnasts can recover faster between events at meets
- Ways coaches can help reduce fatigue build up with specific workouts
- Ways that he would try to help gymnasts build up their ability to get through long training sessions
You can listen to our episode through podcast providers, or what the interview below! So much incredibly helpful information came out from Chris, and I can’t thank him enough.
Gymnastics Energy System Essentials with Chris Hinshaw