How to Increase Power in Gymnasts
Power is one of the most sought after athletic qualities in gymnastics. It’s for good reason too, as the ability to express more power helps gymnasts run faster for vault or tumbling, helps them tumble higher, and also allows them to tap harder for bigger bar or ring skills.
With that being said, there is a ton of confusion around how to approach power training in gymnastics, and it often leads to coaches feeling super frustrated when their athletes aren’t quick enough. I completely understand those feelings of frustration from being a younger coach. All I wanted was to get the gymnasts I worked with stronger and faster, so they could learn new skills or compete well.
Unfortunately, my approach of finding new plyometric or power drills had good intentions, but not the best results. I would find ‘power drills’ or other exercises online that showed gymnasts moving really fast.
I spent many practices doing endless panel mat plyo lines I saw from videos, making our gymnasts do ridiculously high box jumps with questionable form, or when all else failed and I was out of ideas we would do tons of sprints.
And the unfortunate reality is that we did not get the results we hoped for. Not only did the exercises not look close to what I saw online, they also seemed to lead to minimal increases in power or speed. Worst of all, most of the time all the plyo panel mat lines and running just lead to shin splints, cranky knees, and sore backs.
So, after learning these lessons the hard way I decide to dive into the strength and conditioning world to see how other sports trained for power, to talk with strength coaches about what they did for power/speed work. I read a ton of strength books, went to courses, and played with no ideas.
And what I realized is that I was making the biggest mistake of applying exercises, not principles. As with other areas of coaching, I did not have a system to follow that offered step by step focus points. By taking a step back and applying these concepts, I saw much better results over a few years. Not to mention the gymnasts were much happier because they were less sore, and were able to make progress with their skills.
So, I want to help out and make sure people have some of the ideas that I found really helpful. It turns out that a blended approach of gymnastics specific power training (stiffness drills, skill technique, bounding, etc) and general power training (strength blocks followed by specific velocity based training or rate of force development drills) can make a massive change in young gymnasts.
Last week I sat down with my good buddy Dan Lonsdale to cover this topic, who is also an expert strength and conditioning coach specializing in working with gymnasts. You can find tons more info from Dan on his website, and Instagram,
We talked for over and hour on
- The basics of power, and why building strength is an important first step
- Our favorite strength, power, and speed drills to use with gymnasts
- How to motivate gymnasts to work harder during strength and power training
- Why gymnastics technique and shaping is just as important as specific power training
- How physical preparation helps increase skills but also health and longevity in gymnastics
I’m happy to say the entire interview is now up for free, and I think people are really going to love it. Hope it helps!
Or, if you want to watch the entire interview you can find it here