Strength Training and Conditioning for Mesomorph Gymnasts

Subject: Conditioning for Mesomorph

Sex: female
Age: 13
Gymnastics Level: 5

So I started gymnastics late and I am trying to get to a higher level, I am not trying to be an elite or anything like that but i would like to become a level 6, I realize to become a level 6 I need to become stronger I also would like to improve my endurance because by the end of a routine I am quite tired, I saw one of your early posts saying how Mesomorphs (I am pretty sure I am a Mesomorph because I weigh 100 pounds and I am 5’1 and have 45 pounds of muscle and have a muscular build and broad shoulders) shouldn’t do a lot of cardio. But if this is true how can I improve my cardio/endurance, also what conditioning can I do to become stronger? the things I struggle with most are push ups and james bond jumps (squat with arms out, jump to squat facing opposite direction) but I already have a no jump press handstand, chin-ups/chin-up pullovers are easy, and so are sit-ups.

My coach said that in order to really build muscle instead of just toning you have to do a lot at once and become fatigued (like not do them spread out through the day, do them all at once). Is this true?

Mesomorphs have an excellent body type for a powerful, explosive style of gymnastics. It sounds like you have your body type figured out. You also have identified the one event for gymnasts where endurance is a factor – floor exercise. It is a little difficult to really give the the ideal advice without seeing you and testing you on strength, but I will give you the best answer I can and give you some things you can do.

There are Many Types of Strength Training and Conditioning

There are many types and systems of training, but not all of them are suitable or ideal for gymnastics, in particular. In general, particularly for vault, bars, and tumbling, explosive strength and power are what is needed. Except to the degree you have already found for floor, endurance is not something that is particularly useful for gymnasts in competition. Because of that, gymnasts need a training system that will develop maximum power and strength and just enough endurance for floor.

You are an Interesting Mix

From the examples you gave, it is hard to see exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are, and exactly what type of training to recommend. You can do press handstands and chin-up and chin-up pull-overs are easy (Yeah!), but you have trouble with push-ups? So, in most senses, you have excellent upper body strength, but push-ups are an exception to your seemingly otherwise seemingly fine upper body strength. So it sounds like your pulling strength and your straight arm push strength (presses) is okay, but you need work on pulling strength.

Leg Strength?

Your leg strength is more of a question, because of your problem with squat jump exercises (and your floor endurance problem may be leg strength related as well). But in general, it seems clear that your strength is not to the level you want and need it to be.

Weight Train!

I am going to suggest and recommend that you do weight training. You are old enough to go to a health club (with an adult), that has weight machines. And many health clubs have or will offer inexpensive programs for young gymnasts. Weight lifting is efficient, in terms of time and it easy to track your progress. You can get a significant increase in strength lifting weights for as little as one hour per week. Health clubs also have aerobic equipment, if the weather where you are makes it difficult to run outside in the winter. Health clubs also often have specialized types of training equipment, that can be useful for you (like a chin-up machine with weights to offset some of your weight, for better and faster progress).

Aerobically Train for Competition

The most efficient way for you to train aerobically, so you have enough endurance to finish strong on floor, is to do set of short bursts (60 – 90 seconds) of really intense aerobics. Two (to three) times per week you want to do 5 – 9 sets of 60 seconds of all-out aerobics (running, treadmill, etc.). You will need to rest in between sets for up to four minutes so you can recover enough to go all out again. And you can do weightlifting in between sets to make your strength workout efficient. That’s only 9 – 12 minutes of actual aerobics, but with the rest and recovery time in between (weight training time), it will still end up being about an hour workout.

It is True

I am going to say your coach is correct, but I am going to put things just a little differently. To build maximum strength, you want to train “intensely” and to the point where your muscles just can’t do any more work (do a lot at once and become fatigued). You want to strength train for a short period of time, but train intensely.

Hope that helps and please write to me again if you have any more questions.

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