The main focus of today’s session was intermediate core conditioning exercises. The workout targeted strength, dynamic and static holds. We started with mobility drills to open my shoulders, chest and back, which are essential for building a baseline from headstand to handstand, as today there was some headstand practice (good strengthening for core muscles). Core is a great way to provide stability, support and also transfers support from your lower body to your upper body, that is good for gymnastics.
We started with the elbow bridge, which is great exercise for building back mobility. It is similar to the bridge exercise, except that we use the elbows instead of the arms being straight (the elbows and forearms bear the brunt of the weight). The elbow bridge is a great progression to build up the bridge, this can be performed by lifting your hips and feet together, lifting yourself up until the head is off the ground. In this exercise, the chest is pressed forward and legs remain straight, keeping both feet together and your hands placed on the floor, as it is shown in the first picture below (this is a hard version). There is an easier version where you can place your feet apart, as it is shown in the second picture below.
Next one was table rock hold for 1 minute, followed by the table inside out. You can perform the table rock by extending your hips upwards all the way to shoulder height (as in the first picture below) – do not allow the chest to cave in during extension! The third drill was table inside and out, it is very similar to the table rock except that you alternate from side to side, making sure your legs remain locked in position, keeping that table top position into scorpion, as I am demonstrating in the pictures below.
Then, we went straight into core conditioning routine. As I specified earlier, core is important during gymnastics training, as the body must be able to adapt in any body position repeatedly in order to protect back and prevent extremities injuries, so it is essential. Core strength is monitored through progressions: starting out with basic stabilisation and moving to more advanced sports specific movements.
The first core exercise was hollow body straddle hold using a stick and open legs. Keep your core engaged all the time, pointing your toes and keeping your legs straight. Put a pad behind your back and make sure you don’t touch it. This improves body awareness and increases the gross leaver from tuck to straddle.
Next one was hollow body rock, it is the same position as hollow body hold, but instead of keeping steady, you keep moving forward and backwards, rolling in your back near the sacrum. Don’t use the pad for this one.
Next, we did some hanging knee raises, which is another great exercise to make your core strong, as it challenges you in the dynamic movement. We did two combinations of this exercise: first one, it was knee up and down and the seconds one it was knees up and L sit – both for 1 minute each. Remember to keep your core engaged all the time and you should not bouncing in this exercise, your back needs to be always straight (use a bar in your lower back, it will help to keep steady).
We moved straight to the unstable apparatus practicing ring elements, which is a great way to test stability in the shoulder girdle, strength and core. I did some foundation moves which I’ve learnt in my previous sessions, I found the skin the cat position very difficult to hold for long, but it is an amazing way to build your core endurance.
We finished the session with headstand practice and today, for the first time I managed to open my legs when I was in headstand position, it felt easy to be honest! Got very happy about this, as headstand is becoming more manageable, I am very excited about my progressions and looking forwards to the next session.
Elbow bridge 1 minute
Table rock 1 minute
Table inside out 1 minute 30 seconds
Hollow body hold with stick 1 minute
Hollow body rock 1 minute
Hanging knee raises 1 minute
Hanging knee to L sit 1 minute