As I’ve talked about many times, the fears and misunderstandings about using external loading in gymnastics continues to be an uphill battle. The reality of the situation is that when the correct choice of exercises are properly taught, implemented, and programmed, there are enormous benefits for gymnasts. One of the exercises I feel falls into a this category as having multiple benefits is a dumbbell push press.
There are many benefits to using a push press including
- Helps teach force transfer and absorption between the entire kinetic chain, teaching leg/hip drive that moves through the core and finishes through the upper body/arms.
- Helps teach each arm to work under load by itself, to help develop dynamic stability for a handstand but in a very different manner that can transfer to many skills
- Teaches the athlete core control and spinal position under load, which is seen daily during tumbling, landings, and other dismounts. This is essential to optimal performance and reducing lower back overload during skills
- Engages the 1/4 to 1/2 squat pattern that is used for all landings and non – bounding tumbling passes
- Helps progressively adapt the upper body for weight bearing in a controlled environment. Many younger athletes often are overloaded in their elbows and wrists with heavy impact, leading to “gymnast wrist”, OCD lesions of the elbow, and inability to tolerate impact during skills
A few tips about the push press
- It must be taught by someone knowledgable in the exercise, sports medical providers, strength coaches, or knowledgable strength coaches should be sought out
- Gymnasts must understand dumbbell front rack position to spare shoulder / wrist stress and also encourage vertical power driving
- The dip for the press must have core engagement and neutral spine, as well as a proper descent pattern that allows good knee and hip tracking
- Weight should be none to very minimal to start until the athlete can demonstrate perfect mechanics. Over multiple weeks or programming they can increase the weight, and they must know what to do if the reps begin to fall apart
This is just one example of some great progressive loading exercises gymnasts can use. This video was from our summer strength program. I encourage readers to seek out those people who can help educate their gymnasts if they wish to use it. However, once the athletes understand and properly use it, the benefits can be far reaching.
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All for now, take care!
Dave Tilley DPT, SCS