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tani

gymnastics strength vs gym strength.

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tani

I was wondering if I was to train for a couple of years in gymnastics training or just regular gym training which would build more strength?

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Mikkel Ravn

Welcome!

Within this forum, you're bound to get a pretty biased answer - The answer is of course gymnastics.

Joking aside, you should determine what your goals are. Do you want to lift heavy in deadlift, bench and squat? Go powerlifting. Do you want to do cool gymnastic strength elements like planche and levers? Go do the foundation series. There's been a lot of claims that gymnastics carry over to other types of strength training, while the reverse is not true. Most people here will subscribe to this belief, and there are good reasons to do so, yet the evidence of this being true is mostly anecdotal, as far as I'm aware.

Determine your goals first, then make an informed decision by choosing the strength training method that will take you there as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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Connor Davies

Presumably if you're training to 100% of your potential, you will develop the exact same amount of strength.  However, what you can do with that strength would be vastly different.

 

Personally I believe if you do Foundation 1, with all the mobility work, you'll be capable of expressing power in a larger variety of ways over more dimensions than if you just lifted weights.  There will also be a much lower rate of injury.

 

Something else to consider, is that just like weightlifting, not all gymnastics strength is created equal.  If you just try out random things with no idea what you're doing, in either sport, you're probably not going to be making very good progress.  There are a lot of good weightlifting programs out there, and it's easily measurable, so that appeals to some people.  But I would say the proprioceptive aspect of gymnastic training is totally left out of most weightlifting programs.

 

The real difference is learning to move yourself, or learning to move something else.  If being athletic appeals to you, learning to move yourself around is pretty damn useful.  If you'd rather just be able to think, "I want to move that," and then do it, probably weightlifting would benefit you more.

 

The general consensus is also that Gymnastic Strength Training™ is better for your upper body, whereas the olympic lifts are better for your lower body.  Without a great coach who knows everything and can teach you all the lifts and design you a personalised program then it can be really difficult to program it all together.

 

Remember, the closer you're trying to get to the sun, the more complicated everything becomes.  For the average person who just wants to get in shape, either one would be fine.

 

EDIT: I just noticed you said regular gym training, which I am assuming to be various isolation exercises on machines, maybe some bench pressing.  In which case, Gymnastic Strength Training™ would, without a shred of a doubt, make you far, far stronger. 

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Jono

Something that Coach said in his Side Lever Pulls article rings a bell here. As a gymnast, you need to be "bulletproof from all angles" to even be remotely successful at moderate levels of gymnastics.

 

When you compare that with a Powerlifter, who's only upper-body strength feat is being good at the bench press, and probably nothing much else.

 

It actually makes me laugh that most lifting programs treat the entire back muscles as "assistance work". How can anybody call themselves strong if they have a weak back?

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Karri Kytömaa

 

It actually makes me laugh that most lifting programs treat the entire back muscles as "assistance work". How can anybody call themselves strong if they have a weak back?

 

Brings to mind a part in Convict Conditioning where guys were doing pull ups just to build some muscle to the back so they are comfortable benching on rock hard prison benches.  :P

 

Like Ravn mentioned, it depends on goals. Strength is a skill and to become great at a skill, you must practice that specific skill a lot. Gymnastics, especially great program like F1 has huge advantages in strengthening also joints and tendons instead of just muscle.

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Mikkel Ravn

I've never been powerlifting much myself, but I don't think that a guy who can deadlift and squat +500 lbs has a weak back. Though I've been doing tons of SLS, I've got a pretty weak back squat - because the SLS doesn't develop the lower back. Unless we're talking out of real experience, we should be careful about digging trenches between the strength training schools. I think that most of us guys at this forum would fail miserably at powerlifting if we were one day to try it out - assuming that we'd just own it, would make asses of you and me. Right?

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emos

I was wondering if I was to train for a couple of years in gymnastics training or just regular gym training which would build more strength?

 

Define "strength". How would it be measured?

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Tyler Gibson

Like the others above me have said, it depends on your goals. If you train weightlifting for several years you will get stronger at lifting. Likewise for gymnastics. I disagree with the general consensus here that gymnastics has a good carryover to weightlifting. I agree that gymnastics is the superior method of training for the upper body, but I think that saying gymnastics strength will instantly carryover to weight lifting ignores the high degree of technique required for a successfully executed lift, and the years powerlifters spend preparing their bodies for insane feats of strength. It is true that those with a high level of gymnastics strength will be able to lift more than most non-powerlifters, but in a powerlifting meet most would not even place. One of the figures that gets thrown around a lot is the 400lbs deadlift that one of coaches gymnasts pulled on his first day of high school. While extremely impressive for a freshman in high school, a 400lbs deadlift wouldn't get first place in a powerlifting meet, even in the appropriate weight class. The world record for the 132lbs weight class is in fact 628lbs. I don't mean to get off topic, especially as this is a gymnastics forum, but I think some of us could due to show a little more respect to a sport where most of us would not even place in a competition.

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Joshua Slocum

Like the others above me have said, it depends on your goals. If you train weightlifting for several years you will get stronger at lifting. Likewise for gymnastics. I disagree with the general consensus here that gymnastics has a good carryover to weightlifting. I agree that gymnastics is the superior method of training for the upper body, but I think that saying gymnastics strength will instantly carryover to weight lifting ignores the high degree of technique required for a successfully executed lift, and the years powerlifters spend preparing their bodies for insane feats of strength. It is true that those with a high level of gymnastics strength will be able to lift more than most non-powerlifters, but in a powerlifting meet most would not even place. One of the figures that gets thrown around a lot is the 400lbs deadlift that one of coaches gymnasts pulled on his first day of high school. While extremely impressive for a freshman in high school, a 400lbs deadlift wouldn't get first place in a powerlifting meet, even in the appropriate weight class. The world record for the 132lbs weight class is in fact 628lbs. I don't mean to get off topic, especially as this is a gymnastics forum, but I think some of us could due to show a little more respect to a sport where most of us would not even place in a competition.

 

 

The results from the USA Powerlifting 2013 high school National championships would disagree with you. A 400# deadlift (181kg) would have gotten 2nd place in the 60kg/132lb weight class. Even in the next weight-class up, it would have been 8th place. I'd say that's a pretty good lift for a freshman's first try. 

 

Speaking from experience, the amount of technique required for a good lift is not high. If you've mastered a multitude of bodyweight movements, you'll be able to do a benchpress or deadlift with great technique on your first day (assuming you have someone to tell you the key points for good form; figuring it out on your own might take longer). Gymnastics strength does and will carry over to weightlifting, to a much greater degree than weightlifting carries over to gymnastics strength. All that said, powerlifters are still extremely strong individuals, and I have great respect for anyone who puts in enough work to e.g. join the 1k club. 

 

 

 

Now with regards to the OP's question, this doesn't necessarily mean that gymnastics is superior to weightlifting. As has already been mentioned, which one is best for you depends on your goals. 

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Tyler Gibson

@Hari_Seldon:

 

Yes in JJ's age group and weight class he would have done fairly well. I didn't mean to diminish his incredible strength. That said, most GB members are adults who are nowhere near JJ's level of strength. I wanted to make it clear that despite the incredible strength of elite gymnasts, they would not be able to compete with most elite level powerlifters without training specifically for that sport. I think we are more or less in agreement that both elite gymnasts and elite powerlifters are incredibly strong, and that the training modality depends on the goals, so I'll leave it at that.

 

Edit: Also, looking at those results a 181 would be 3rd place in either the Boys JV or Boys Varsity (not that it matters, obviously he would place well without specific training)

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Connor Davies

Speaking from experience, the amount of technique required for a good lift is not high. If you've mastered a multitude of bodyweight movements, you'll be able to do a benchpress or deadlift with great technique on your first day (assuming you have someone to tell you the key points for good form; figuring it out on your own might take longer). Gymnastics strength does and will carry over to weightlifting, to a much greater degree than weightlifting carries over to gymnastics strength. All that said, powerlifters are still extremely strong individuals, and I have great respect for anyone who puts in enough work to e.g. join the 1k club.

There is a fair amount of technique required for all the main lifts.  Remember, powerlifters spend years focusing on just three lifts, and someone can come along, address a flaw in technique they might not have noticed and suddenly they're adding weight again after a lengthy plateau.  The reason there is a one way street as far as carryover goes is that while there are 3 lifts for powerlifting, and only 2 (albeit much more complicated) lifts for olympic lifting, there are hundreds of Gymnastic Strength Training™ moves, If you count each separate progression as a whole new move.  Also, weightlifting is primarily dynamic bent arm training while Gymnastic Strength Training™ involves many static positions.

 

As an aside, I would love to join the 1k club someday.... sigh.... someday....

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Philip Chubb

The question is about gymnastic strength vs gym strength. So take power lifters. If you do gymnastic strength the way it's performed here, you will end up with a decent deadlift and a decent bench press. You can powerlift to a high level and you won't achieve a planche or press handstand. Maybe start off a little further in the front lever and l sit progressions. Maybe.

So basically, you get gymnastic strength and some decen powerlifting strength. Not enough to win competitions left and right. But definitely more transfer than the other way around. Your squat will probably still be low so adding that in is a good idea.

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Joshua Slocum

There is a fair amount of technique required for all the main lifts.  Remember, powerlifters spend years focusing on just three lifts, and someone can come along, address a flaw in technique they might not have noticed and suddenly they're adding weight again after a lengthy plateau.  The reason there is a one way street as far as carryover goes is that while there are 3 lifts for powerlifting, and only 2 (albeit much more complicated) lifts for olympic lifting, there are hundreds of Gymnastic Strength Training™ moves,

 

I did not mean to imply that the amount of technique in the main lifts is low. But it's low enough that someone who has achieved a high level of strength and proficiency in bodyweight strength will be able to pick any of the main lfts up with ease. This is precisely because part of bodyweight training is learning the form for many different movements, so your kinesthetic awareness becomes quite developed in comparison to a powerlifter's. 

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Joshua Naterman

The question is about gymnastic strength vs gym strength. So take power lifters. If you do gymnastic strength the way it's performed here, you will end up with a decent deadlift and a decent bench press. You can powerlift to a high level and you won't achieve a planche or press handstand. Maybe start off a little further in the front lever and l sit progressions. Maybe.

So basically, you get gymnastic strength and some decen powerlifting strength. Not enough to win competitions left and right. But definitely more transfer than the other way around. Your squat will probably still be low so adding that in is a good idea.

Beat me to it... Gymnastic strength, trained the way we do it HERE, will turn you into someone who is better than average in just about everything except, perhaps, a front or back squat (though I think we would be surprised at the results there as well), so adding in squats on leg days is really the only thing you need to do in order to truly build what is essentially the perfect athletic body. Why spend 5 years on something else when you could be practically perfect?

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Blairbob

 Many gymnasts can do fairly well on a bench or overhead press or deadlift their first time out. This is often seen in those who start up CrossFit.

 

 Thing is, very few of them (I've never seen it) will dominate with the squat their first time out. They might have a better chance at FrontSquat than BackSquat but you have to get used to holding a lot of weight on your back.

 

 With Front Squat, the rack isn't terribly hard to learn and strong abs, hip flexors and legs will help. However, putting a significant amount of weight on your back and squatting with it isn't something that is very natural.

 

 One thing to be noticed is a lot of ex female gymnasts are dominating in CrossFit right (in the US and worldwide) and there are a fair amount who are in the ranks of USA Olympic Lifters at Nationals. Some were national level gymnasts while some were just compulsory or optional level gymnasts.

 

 I haven't seen this yet with any males in the US, but I tend to believe this is because many of our best male gymnasts tend to still be in the sport in college vs being done with the sport in or before High School (or perhaps collegiate gymnastics for the gals).

 

 Given 3 years, whether you can get stronger via bodyweight or barbell will largely depend on your genetics, your height and limbs, and your nutrition and recovery. 
 

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Philip Chubb

Beat me to it... Gymnastic strength, trained the way we do it HERE, will turn you into someone who is better than average in just about everything except, perhaps, a front or back squat (though I think we would be surprised at the results there as well), so adding in squats on leg days is really the only thing you need to do in order to truly build what is essentially the perfect athletic body. Why spend 5 years on something else when you could be practically perfect?

This. There's not many areas where regular gym lifting beats gymnastics. General transferability? (is that a word?) Gymnastics. Complexity? Gymnastics. Variety to prevent plateaus and make for a wider training base? Gymnastics. The pure sexy wow factor? I have noticed the ladies are more impressed by a planche than your max bench. Haha!

 

I agree with you on squats. It's not even like gymnastics is totally dead in the leg department. You still have various squats, shrimps and stepups. If you cannot squat because you do not have a rack but still want something to challenge your legs, merely look up a triple jumper step up. The flexibility, if done right, will also provide some decent strength gains in ways most people aren't even used to. I use squats and close grip snatches as about 80 percent of my lower body training. Gymnastics covers the rest.

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seiyafan

My understanding is that gymnasts are busy with training technique related strength movements, such as perfecting the forms, this is because in competition judges take points off for improper forms. As for gym strength, the end is more important than the mean, so brute force dominates here. 

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Joshua Slocum

My understanding is that gymnasts are busy with training technique related strength movements, such as perfecting the forms, this is because in competition judges take points off for improper forms. As for gym strength, the end is more important than the mean, so brute force dominates here.

Perfect form is not just about aesthetics (except maybe having pointed toes). For pretty much every strength skill, perfect form is about demonstrating strength by performing the skill in a maximally difficult body position. A planch that's not level and has bent arms isn't just ugly: it's also way easier to hold than a planche with good form.

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Joshua Naterman

My understanding is that gymnasts are busy with training technique related strength movements, such as perfecting the forms, this is because in competition judges take points off for improper forms. As for gym strength, the end is more important than the mean, so brute force dominates here. 

You cannot achieve a good end with bad means.

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Blairbob

 

 If you cannot squat because you do not have a rack but still want something to challenge your legs,

 If you are in a gym you can find a low beam and squat it or a high beam. For a low beam, you can try to Zercher it up. Tough.

 

 Personally, the BW stuff does not equal barbell weight when it comes to squats. I think a lot of this has to do with back strength/endurance.

 

 I took about 3 months off in the fall of 2010 from heavy squatting and was absolutely crushed when I tried to BackSquat after doing so. I was still doing SLS and tumbling, sprints and sand running but I got destroyed on a high volume Back Squat CF WOD that I would have crushed before taking that time off heavy squatting.

 

 

 

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Tyler Gibson

In my opinion, absolutely nothing can load the posterior chain in the same manner as a heavy back squat. I have never seen someone with an impressive back squat that didn't earn it through years of heavy back squatting.

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Joshua Naterman

I definitely agree.

 

Something we don't always remember is that you will notice, in BtGB, that there are in fact loaded variations of leg training, and that this represents a level of leg strength in GB training that probably does go above and beyond the norm for gymnasts. This is why I think that we might be surprised at what some of Coach's guys might pull off with 8 weeks of squatting, compared to someone coming in off the street with little or no training.

 

Even so, I have always believed that there is a place for heavy squats on leg days, particularly if you're not a competitive gymnast. Something we often fail to think about is that bigger legs and bigger glutes make pommel horse and ring strength much more difficult, so in terms of specific sport demands it might be a mistake for a gymnast to do very much weighted squatting. The threshold from squats helping performance to squats hurting performance, in competitive gymnastics, will probably vary from athlete to athlete.

 

Of course, most of us don't care about being top 5 in the nation on the pommel horse, so... maybe you will like squat for a few sets after you do your F1 work once or twice a week.

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