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Daniel Jorgensen

Ring strength/skills vs. height of individual

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Joshua Chan
My point is that you must decide which is your true priority, accept that you are sacrificing some performance in other areas, and do your best to keep the other areas/events as strong as you can. You can see the difference between a true rings specialist like Van Gelder or Rodrigues and a more all-around athlete like Yibing or Yovchev who specializes on the rings, but there is still a clear disparity between their rings ability and ability in other events.

You are comparing specialist in different apparatus, of course they are in disadvantage to each other. If you have ever done gymnastics, all six events, I'm sure you know it's probably the most difficult sport in the world. Chen Yibing has a great all around, just being among the 200 best gymnast in China makes him a great all arounder. China probably has around 400 elite gymnasts, never mind the others. The same goes for Jovtchev and Chechi. Yang Wei is not the only one, what about Hiroyuki Tomita.

And what do you mean by "you can see the difference between a true ring specialist like Van Gelder or Rodrigues and a more all-around athlete like Yibing or Jovtchev"??

I would not say there is a clear disparity between their rings ability and ability in other events. Take Vitaly Scherbo 1992 Olympics. Gold medalist all around, parallel bars, RINGS, pommel horse, vault, team final.

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Joshua Naterman

Vitaly is... incredible. There are always going to be some people who are outside these rules, and it is very hard to say whether it is personal anatomy and inherent talent or a radically different training scheme that produced this incredible athlete. However, watch his 1992 SR routine. It is VERY dynamic and not heavily based on maximal strength. He can't even hold a flat full lay planche and doesn't even attempt a maltese, though his IC is pretty sweet. He played on HIS strengths, and he wasn't about to try and match Li Xiaoshuang or Li Jing's strength. It turns out that the strap crossing trick that he did was more highly valued than multiple crosses and a perfect planche with a slightly unstable handstand(Xiaoshuang). Even with Vitaly, you can see the difference in strength between him and the ring specialists like Van Gelder, Rodriguez, Yovchev, etc. The guys who are stronger just seem to lack a little of that extra explosion and/or technical proficiency that a lot of the more dynamic guys seem to have. It is a small difference, but on the world scene those little differences matter. A lot of the time that extra strength has a small price in flexibility, which is going to affect the performance of athletes as well.

You're right though, they are different events, and how you divide your time is definitely going to make a difference in how you perform in each. Personally, because of the specificity of movements that are involved, I think that the gymnastic events have a fairly low level of interference between maximal strength and maximal dynamic ability. Rings are really the maximal strength of gymnastics, and the hardest positions are not really positions that are used for explosive moves in other events, so I don't think there would be much interference between the dynamic movements of the other events and the strength skills of the rings. This is a stark contrast to olympic lifting versus powerlifting, where extremely similar movements are being used for maximal explosive strength and stretch reflex in Olympic Lifting and for slow, grinding strength in powerlifting. This contrast within a similar movement (squat and deadlift) is what keeps O-lifters from being the top Powerlifters and powerlifters from being the top O-lifters. This is yet another reason that I love gymnastics! You can be so good at so much!

There is always more to these stories than JUST the medals, though 6 golds in one Olympics is pretty wild!

I totally agree that these guys are all excellent, but I'm not talking about being very good, I am talking about being THE BEST. Number 1. Not # 11, which is still very good when we are talking about world or even national rankings. Gregor can tell us what the difference is between the top 5 and the 11-20 category much better than I can, but I would be surprised if he didn't feel like there was something of a strength gap.

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Daniel Jorgensen
It is not only height and weight that must be evaluted; but also limb length ratios, body type, connective tissue attachments, metabolism, degree of fast twitch etc. A very fine line must be walked with each individual athlete; too little muscle mass reduces strength, too much muscle mass may reduce explosiveness or compromise ROM.

For his height, Shatilov's weight is fine as evidenced by his already high level of performance at a world class level. To lose weight at this stage in his career would almost certainly negatively effect his ring strength. If anything, by my evaluation of his physique, he may benefit from additional muscle mass, not less. However attempting such a gain in lean muscle mass may have a detrimental effect on his other events while only providing a marginal increase in his ring strength.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Thank you

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Joshua Naterman

Yep. Thanks for the quote Doc!

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Coach Sommer
... Although I can't say that I agree with slizzardman's suggestion that maximal strength work interferes with speed work ...

If carried to an extreme, maximal strength will absolutely interfere with speed work. If you have not yet experienced this, your maximal strength has not yet developed to that extreme level.

I have personally experienced this with one of my advanced athletes. When he was younger my emphasis was on continually increasing his maximal strength; at that point in his development this had no negative effects on his performance. Rather the stronger he got, the better he seemed to perform. However eventually he got so strong that it did indeed lower his ability to perform explosively.

During one National Team Camp at the Olympic Training Center, I noticed how much slower his rope climbs were than before, especially when compared to some of his peers; even though he was physically much stronger than them. Upon returning home, I restructured his conditioning program. The lesson of the training camp was clear; he was more than strong enough, it was now time to focus on translating that raw power into dynamic strength. The result? A re-emergence of his explosive power and speed and a National Championship to go along with it.

To reiterate, once a sufficient level of maximal strength has been obtained; to continue to pursue maximal strength past a level of optimal surplus will negatively effect athletic performance.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Coach Sommer
... And what do you mean by "you can see the difference between a true ring specialist like Van Gelder or Rodrigues and a more all-around athlete like Yibing or Jovtchev"?? ...

Slizzardman has chosen inappropriate examples of great all arounders who were also great ring men, however his basic premise is correct; many extremely strong ring specialists are athletically ineffective on the other events due to a failure to correctly balance all of the necessary training components. This is an oft observed fact and is quite similar to the fact that many elite level powerlifters have purposely chosen to be athletically ineffective outside their particular narrow speciality in order to maximize their pure strength potential.

Remember that the primary focus of Gymnastic Strength Training™ is to become the strongest "spring" possible; a result which is only possible if a perfect balance between all of the training components is maintained. For example, too much flexibility and the spring is too weak; unable to generate sufficient force. Too much rigidity (maximal strength) and the spring is stiff and brittle; unable to react explosively. A fine line must be walked in regards to the integrative deveopment of all the training components to ensure that optimum athletic expression is possible.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

p.s. To use Vitaly Scherbo as an example of a great all arounder who was also very strong on the rings is incorrect. Vitaly was great on rings because during the late 1980s/early 1990s swinging elements were more valued than strength parts. Vitaly will be the first to tell you that if he could change one thing about himself, he would have wanted to be much stronger on the rings.

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Joshua Naterman

Oops... :oops:

I certainly didn't mean to take away from their greatness, as both Yovchev and Yibing are indeed exceptional. A question: What do you think makes the difference between these two and the all-around performance of Yang Wei, which is considerably better in terms of placement in Olympic competition? Clearly, anyone who is even considered to be in the world top 100 is extremely good, but I am curious about your thoughts regarding the differences in final standings, because Yang Wei is also very strong on rings, yet his finishes seem to be consistently much better than Yovchev and Chen Yibing. Is it just an issue of body type? Do you think that too much strength training is affecting the others slightly? Not to be fishing, this is something I'm curious about. I don't know enough about what inherent characteristics affect performance on the various apparatus.

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Joshua Chan

Hello,

I see your point Coach, you're absolutely right. And yes, Vitaly Sherbo is a pretty poor example. I was wondering if the old codes could be downloaded from somewhere, It would be very interesting to take a look at them.

Slizzardman, I think we can conclude that a choice must be made whether to be exceptionally strong or exceptionally fast. Although, which was my point from the beginning, doesn't mean that you have to be slow in order to be strong. You just won't max out on it. It's very interesting what you say about Yang Wei, he has an outstanding physiology.

Coach, I have a question regarding Allan. Did he have to lose some of that maximal strength in order to recover his explosiveness?

Thank you!!

P.S. Who do you think will come on top at the rings event final??

-Joshua

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AlexX
... And what do you mean by "you can see the difference between a true ring specialist like Van Gelder or Rodrigues and a more all-around athlete like Yibing or Jovtchev"?? ...

...This is an oft observed fact and is quite similar to the fact that many elite level powerlifters have purposely chosen to be athletically ineffective outside their particular narrow speciality in order to maximize their pure strength potential....

If anyone wants to see an example of this check out Ryan Kennelly. His benchpress is over a 1000 (shirted). He has amazing flexibility/mobility in his thoracic spine (its pretty insane especially for a guy his size and it shortens the range of motion on the bench) but I'd be surprised if the guy can successfully lift his arms in a lockout position overhead without a massive arch in his back. EDIT: Also notice the significant amount of shoulder internal rotation and flexion in his posture (without the bench shirt).

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Coach Sommer
Oops... :oops:

Not at all, my friend. Your basic premise was still correct.

As to why Yang Wei should be so much better than the Chin Yibing and Jotchev on the other events; it may simply be a case of him winning the genetic lottery. It should be noted that all of the athletes at this level are incredibly gifted.

The Chinese however are definitely onto something with their approach to ring strength training. At the current ongoing 2010 World Championships they made quite an impression; having both the highest and second highest scoring qualifiers into the Still Rings event finals. Although interestingly their pommel horse performance this year was subpar by Chinese standards. A coincidence or correlation?

Below is a video of World & Olympic Champion Chen Yibing's ring routine during the team qualification round on October 20, 2010. He is the highest qualifier, with the other great Chinese ring man Yan Mingyong, currently the second highest qualifier going into finals several days from now.

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A video collage of photos from the Chinese Mens Team podium training

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Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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AlexX

My knowledge of gymnastic higher level training is non-existent so I am struggling with the question of leg development from ring specialists. Do the ring specialists still perform some leg training or some leg events like tumbling without competing in them? The reason I ask is because the two ring specialist I have seen still have legs to match. They are far from looking like no work is performed by them as I have seen in some climbers, climbers refer to them as the legs of a starved chicken. Chin Yibing's leg development seems like it's just as muscular as his upperbody and Van Gelder's certainly don't look like he doesn't train them. If they don't train them do they get their leg development from just doing landings? :shock: which would make them pretty genetically gifted people since I was under the impression that they didn't train the dismounts that hard.

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Coach Sommer
... Chin Yibing's leg development seems like it's just as muscular as his upperbody and Van Gelder's certainly don't look like he doesn't train them ...

Actually this incorrect. While his legs are not stick thin, Chin Yibing's legs are far from being as muscular as his upper body. This is not however always the case. Please browse through the photo collage of the second video clip posted above and you will confirm this for yourself.

There are many ring men who do possess a short stocky build throughout their entire body; although the proportionate heaviness of their legs does not allow them to quite reach the exquisite level of ring strength which Chin Yibing possesses. This stocky phenotype generally does very well on floor and vault as well as on rings. One of my assistant coaches, Jeff, is a perfect example of this.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Gregor
This stocky phenotype generally does very well on floor and vault as well as on rings. One of my assistant coaches, Jeff, is a perfect example of this.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

This is great example:

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-HHIBRK8A6E

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Philip Chubb

Very interesting! So it is impossible to excel in both yet still possible to have a high degree in each. How would you know when to switch over to a more dynamic focus? Is it as soon as you see a need or if the athlete begins to display dimished results from the strength training? Also, how are you able to tell who has won this genetic lottery? Is it the body type or the muscle fibers?

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Joshua Naterman

As far as winning the genetic lottery, sSome things you can tell and some you can't. You can't exactly see the attachment points on the bone, and even if you could (by using hgh tech tissue scans) you'd be doing some pretty serious math to figure out exactly how these leverage points would interact to create external motion and how advantageous it would be compared to other athletes with different attachment points. You would have to use that along with each individual lever point, and THEN you would have to have some sort of way to compare how strong each athlete's nervous system is compared to each other, and combine all that into a performance score pertaining to a particular sport. I suppose you'd have to throw fiber type in there, but that changes a lot over extended periods of training time so fiber types are going to be similar amongst high level competitors in any given sport.

What you CAN do is measure lever lengths both relative to the other levers involved and as absolute measurements. This will give you the basic physics powering an athlete, and whether we like it or not this really does make a difference.

Figuring out the maximal strength issue isn't as complicated as it may seem. When you stop seeing performance gains and/or you notice that you are losing some explosiveness or speed despite continued strength gains it is time to move to maintenance mode on strength and put the emphasis on stretch reflex, explosive ability, progressive acceleration and speed.

For most athletes it will be a loooooooong time before they hit that point.

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Philip Chubb

Thank you! That answered everything. I would imagine that not many people really hit the point where they start to get slow then since it is so far for the everyday person.

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gymdadUK

I posted the following as a reply to a different thread but maybe more relevant here? How the state of the art has progressed!

When i was a kid I remember watching Alexander Dityatin. Was he the tallest ever world champion on rings 1979, 1981, and olympics gold in 1980. He was also all around champion too. How tall was he? He looks about 5foot 10inches in the clip from the link below (sorry not embedded in my reply wasn't sure how). Interested to hear from you experts if we'll ever have an all around champion this tall again? Obviously a lot less difficulty in his routine than now but it was 30y ago!

http://www.vtap.com/video/Aleksandr+Dit ... aW46MX5xOm

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gymdadUK

My apologies that link doesn't work. Hopefully you can link to this old clip of Dityatin. I know its long time ago and the moves are way below the current state of the art, but clearly he must have been around the best of the time at rings and and much taller than the 5'3'' or so of Jovtchev, van Gelder et al. Were there no ring specialists then?

http://www.veveo.net/video/Aleksandr+Di ... aW46MX5xOm

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