All posts by GymnasticBodies Team

One Arm Chinup Preparation

A One Arm Chin Up is Possible with Correct Training

A one arm chin up is an exercise that takes a great deal of strength in your biceps, shoulders and back muscles because it puts a great deal of stress on the shoulder girdle. This is not a move that individuals should rush in to. Instead, there are several steps to train for the ultimate goal of completing one arm chin ups.  But first, we must explain something. The chin up and pull up are two very similar moves – the only real difference is the way one’s grip is facing.

There are several pieces of equipment that one can use to complete a one arm chin up. Some who use one arm chin ups in their workout regimens like to use the bar, while others use the rings. Still, there are some who use porches or metal beams. Different trainers like to use different equipment, but the most popular choice is the bar, because it is most familiar to most individuals who use gymnastic exercises in their workouts.

Training Exercises for the One Arm Chin Up

There are several progressions that one must master before working toward being able to complete a one arm chin up. Individuals should work on each of these moves for a period of time before moving on to the next progression. Some of these moves are discussed below.

  • Master the rope climb, which begins with the no-leg climb – with the rope between your legs; pull yourself up reaching as high as you can.
  • Next, work on cirques – an advanced rope climbing technique that uses negative one arm chin ups on the descent. This move is difficult and Coach Summer suggests first trying this move from a space not far from the ground and keeping your non-gripping arm close to the rope in case your supporting arm fails.
  •  Once you’re comfortable with cirques and can do multiple cirques safely as you descend the rope, it’s time to try alternate arm chin ups.

When you’re comfortable with the alternate arm chin ups, it’s time to attempt the one arm chin up. The first time you try to do a one arm chin up, at GymnasticBodies, we suggest supporting your lifting arm with the other hand while you pull yourself up, then lower without the support from your second arm. Aim for minimal reps, then take a 3-5 minute rest before you do another set.

As a caution, one arm chin-up training can lead to severe tendinitis when the above progressions are skipped or when training volume is too high. Remember that you can always train more tomorrow, but an injury today can lead to weeks or months of setbacks.

bodyweight hamstring exercises

Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises: A Great Way to Build Lower Body Strength  

Many gymnastic exercises require an individual to have quite a bit of lower body strength. The hamstrings and legs can be used for explosive power movements when necessary, but more often than that, when strong, these muscles help an individual to remain stable and provide greater range of motion as they work through a gymnastic workout routine.

At GymnasticBodies, we suggest the following hamstring bodyweight exercises to build hamstring strength and range of motion:  two variations on the glute-ham raise (GHR) – the half GHR and the full GHR- as well as the natural leg lift.

Half GHR: This move begins as a leg curl with the feet secured by a partner. The individual should tilt the hips forward as far as they can while maintaining a straight body. While keeping the hips in the same position and the back completely flat, lean forward until the forehead reaches the floor. Then, using the hamstrings, push the body back to the kneeling position.  A partner can help to keep the positioning correct by placing an arm behind the active individual’s glutes so that they cannot push the hips backward during the descent or ascent.

Full GHR: The full GHR differs from the half in that the starting position is not kneeling. Start in the prone position with the feet secured behind the individual Settles o that the hips are on the edge of whatever support the individual has chosen – a GHR unit, a box, bench or even a vaulting table. Lean forward until the body is hanging upside down vertically. Use the muscles in the lower back, pushing the body until it is horizontal. This is where to start using the hamstrings, contracting the muscles as the body moves to vertical and continue until completely upright. Take a moment and then descend to the starting position for another repetition.

Natural Leg Curls:  This move starts with an individual in the kneeling position, with feet secured by a partner or by placing them under a mat or stall bar.  To properly perform this exercise, keep the hips flat as you lower the torso to the floor as slowly as possible. For those who cannot perform natural leg curls without assistance, it’s okay to use your fingertips to control your downward movement. The second step is to return to the kneeling position by pulling with the hamstrings.





GymnasticBodies Planche

The Gymnastics Planche: What is It – and How Can I Do It?

The Gymnastics Planche: What is It – and How Can I Do It?

The gymnastics planche. It’s more than an oddly spelled word. It’s a gymnastic element and body weight exercise where the individual holds their body parallel to the ground, feet raised in the air, body in a straight horizontal line using just their arms, which are straight, not bent.

There are several ways that athletes and individuals who use gymnastic workouts to gain muscle strength and endurance can perform the gymnastics planche; there are multiple pieces of equipment that can be used to perform this move:

  • the gymnastic rings;
  • the parallel bars; or
  • the parallettes.

It is an exercise that takes a large amount of skill, strength and balance. This move works multiple areas of the body – the abdominal muscles, arms, shoulders, back and chest muscles.

There are two variations on this move: the planche and the reverse planche. While the planche leaves the individual in a plank position without their feet touching the ground, the reverse planche requires starts with a handstand and the individual bends so that their legs are parallel to the ground, but behind them. In either variation, one’s arms should be straight, not bent.

Training to complete a gymnastic planche

 This is not a move that you should rush to complete. For most athletes and individuals who intend to do a planche or reverse planche as part of their workout, it takes months of working through the five progressions to gain the strength and flexibility to complete the move. There are five progressions.

  1. The Frog Stand
  2. The Tuck Planche
  3. Advanced Tuck Planche
  4. Straddle Planche
  5. Full Planche

Most trainers suggest that individuals move through the progressions slowly, building up endurance. Once you can hold each position for sixty seconds, it’s time to move to the next progression. The exception here is the straddle planche, which some say is best to hold for just 10-15 seconds before moving on, due to its difficulty.

A reverse planche begins from a handstand and then, with straight arms and minimal lower back arch, lowers the back to the floor using shoulder flexion strength. This move uses the limber progression and is essentially a static move held along that range of motion.

GymnasticBodies Rope Climb

A Guide to Gymnastic Rope Climbing

The rope climb. For many individuals, the phrase brings back memories (nightmares?) of physical education class and being forced to climb a rope. At GymnasticBodies, we know that for those who aren’t trained to do this move, it can be intimidating, but we assure you, it was meant for more than just scaring school children.

Gymnastic rope climbing is a great workout – it works your arms, upper back, grip, and strengthens the connective tissue around the elbows (which is essential for ring training later). Not only that, but it also builds muscular endurance and your cardiovascular system. Unlike rope climbing exercises in a physical education class, gymnastic rope climbing does not involve the legs – it focuses on the strength of upper body muscles.

A Bit of History on Gymnastic Rope Climbing

Rope climbing was once an Olympic event – from the 1860s into 1932. Even when it was removed as an Olympic competition, college athletes competed in rope climbing until the 1960s. About thirty years later, rope climbing once again became a popular sport, in the Czech Republic.

Steps to Learn Gymnastic Rope Climbing

The first step is to ensure that you can hold your bodyweight on the rope. Reach up as high as possible and pull your legs into a hanging tuck. Hold the movement for several seconds, and if that’s something you can manage, try extending your legs, one at a time.

Start the gymnastic rope climb with the no leg climb:  Sit on the floor with the rope between your legs, which are either bent or straight, depending on your confidence and comfort. Pull yourself up, hand over hand, reaching as high up as you can. Continue that motion, and when you’re ready, come down, using hand over hand placement to bring yourself down the rope.

Once you’ve mastered those steps, the gymnastic rope climb will be a piece of cake.

For more information on proper rope climbing progressions, see the GymnasticBodies Foundation Series, which includes a Czech series of progressions that are inspired by rope climbers in the Czech Republic.

Male Gymnast Physique

What Does it Take to Have the Look of a Male Gymnast Physique?

At GymnasticBodies, we know that training has a great deal to do with developing the muscular and lean physique of the male gymnast. When done correctly, gymnastic training requires the whole body to move as a single unit, in smooth, strong movements that engage the entire body, pushing the muscles and connective tissues that create the toned look and impressive functional strength that many men desire.

The best way to get that male gymnast physique is to start slowly. We do not suggest that anyone jump into an elite-level training program immediately. We know that training has a great deal to do with developing that look, but we know how important it is to build a foundation of strength and endurance.

We do not encourage individuals to train to the point of exhaustion. You won’t see improvement overnight, but don’t become frustrated. You would not poke a seed into the ground and then jump back waiting for the plant to explode out instantly. Physical conditioning requires patience as well. While you may become more skillful or feel more powerful while performing a new exercise relatively quickly, this is due to becoming more neurologically efficient (“greasing the grove”), rather than experiencing an absolute gain in strength. It takes approximately 6 weeks to establish the first concrete strength gains. To be successful and gain muscle strength and endurance without injury, one should seek consistent, incremental improvements – not rush in order to see results, which only leads to injury.

Exercises like those in the GymnasticBodies program work because of the muscle contraction required. These advanced bodyweight exercises challenge the entire body in such a way that strengthens the joints and connective tissues, aiding in one’s ability to develop strength. This type of workout does not focus solely on the muscles, but other parts of the body that help the muscles to work more efficiently and effectively.
These moves often require that the individual hold the body in a position that increases the weight of the body – to put it simply, exercises like the static hold require supporting a heavy weight in a locked static position, which strengthens the joints and connective tissue.

Don’t give up hope, and don’t rush through these exercises – with time and dedication, you’ll see the results you desire – you’ll develop a look like a male gymnast’s physique.