Inspired by the Santa Monica Rings, I decided to immerse myself into learning all about gymnastics. In the beginning I thought it was mostly about strength, but no! It’s all about strength, balance, flexibility and your overall grace. To say it’s fun to learn these things would be understatement!
This article is structured into four parts. This will get someone prepared to be a level 1 gymnast which is your foundation for anything else you want to learn on top of it.
- Gymnastics primers/basics
- Floor exercises
I am not including things involving the vault, beams, uneven bars because these are things I personally do not have access to and have not researched enough.
First of all, here’s how you’re supposed to grip bars and rings:
Hollow Body Position Part 1
Being able to hold the hollow-body position is key in gymnastics whether you’re in a handstand, on the rings/parallel bars or doing your jumps! Basically your shoulders are forward and your back is rounded. Watch this video about it to learn the importance of it!
Hollow Body Position Part 2
If you ever get a rip…
As we discussed in the other article about how to use the traveling rings, the skin on your hand will have to go through a thickening process to be able to withstand the pressure. The heavier you are, the worst the pressure and friction of the skin against the rings of bars. If you ever get a rip and want to continue training… Here’s how to tape your hands properly! By the way, to get athletic tape, it’s just paper/cloth tape, and you could find it at any drug store where the bandages are. Gathering from all the stuff I’ve read on forums, apparently the Johnson & Johnson Coach Sports Tape is the best.
How to make prewrap:
Next, let’s learn the importance of putting your shoulders to ears so that you could act as one solid unit:
How to do a tap swing:
The tap-swing is this move that is used as a foundation for gaining momentum for MANY moves (high bars, rings, trapeze, etc). It is a compulsory routine you gotta learn and it makes everything way more FUN! It consists of going from a hollow body to arch to hollow body. The arch position is the opposite of the hollow body position. This video below shows drills for getting more strong in the hollow body position and the arch position. Then around 2:40 it starts to put the hollow-arch-holl0w together to start showing the formation of the tap-swing.
Warning: If you accidentally “peel off” (meaning, you involuntarily lose your grip) while doing the tap-swing, you may get badly injured. Notice in the video there are mats on the floor! If there are no mats where you are and are practicing the tap-swing, have a spotter standing right next to you so that in case you fly off they can slow you down to break your fall. They don’t have to catch you, just slow you down to break your fall.
Ring Basics, Part 1:
Ring Basics, Part 2:
Front Lever Tutorial:
Back Lever Tutorial:
The dislocate on rings is one of the first epic skills you could learn on the rings and master over your life. Very important to keep the arms straight.
Learn how to do a Muscle Up:
How to do a Forward Roll
There are a variety of rolls that beginner gymnasts can do on the floor. The forward roll is the most basic of these. The backward roll is simply the opposite and is slightly more difficult but still doable. You don’t have to do it fast. Try it slowly so you have a good foundation.
Clarification: Be aware of the difference between the traditional gymnastics roll and the forward roll described for parkour and martial arts. The intention of the traditional roll is to remain symmetrical throughout, contacting the ground along the length of your spine. In parkour and martial arts, the roll described is asymmetrical, where contact with the ground starts from one shoulder, diagonally to the opposite hip minimizing the contact with the spine as much as possible. This style of rolling is much more practical due to its safety (it’s even called a safety roll) and it can be done to land safely from high jumps onto hard surfaces. As opposed to the traditional gymnastics roll which should be done on soft surfaces only and is for scoring points for symmetry.
How to do a Backward Roll
How to to do a Straddle Forward Roll
How to do a Handstand:
Being able to do handstands is essential for beginner gymnasts. Other movements may suffer if you do not master this skill.
Can you already do handstands? Learn Handstand Pushups and MORE!
How to do a perfect cartwheel:
Drills emphasizing candlestick position:
How to do a Round Off:
How to do a Planche:
How to do a Backbend:
You must work consistently on improving your flexibility.
Here’s a great video showing a series of flexibility exercises everyone must work on:
Here’s how to improve flexibility to do the splits:
Learn the importance of working out your abs and knowing the difference between working out your lower abs and hip flexors: