Currently posted at the gymnastics venue here at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Very much amazed with these athletes. Here are my thoughts from today.
Foam Rollers – There are none. Not one. Obviously I use them in practice but watching gymnasts prep for training and competition is making me think that such devices could be used less with proper preparation.
Warm Up – These gymnasts meticulously mobilize each and every joint in their body dynamically. They spend the time starting from distal to proximal, from specific to general, and in all planes and directions. We might be shortchanging our athletes without this attention to detail.
Stretching – There’s no shortage of it here. Warm up here comes first then stretching. Warm up aside, stretching went from static to dynamic and is in general, mini-ballistic.
Focus – Little chatting. Deathly stares. And full concentration. Period.
Crunches – Lots of v-sits, and lumbar flexion warm up exercises as well. I don’t think it’s a green light for all gymnasts, but it would be hard for me to flip on the red for half of them. I see integration of all joint and myofascial segments and load sharing from head to toe. Even see the joint by joint respected (think sternum crunch in a dead bug position). In this case, I think its ok. In the normal population, I’ll still set up a road block. Remember, it was warm up, not training and definitely not volume.
Bands – Plenty of resistance here during the warm up. Band pullaparts, straight arm pulldowns, etc. Great progressions.
Amazing feats of strength, mobility, and stability - Here’s an example of a commonly performed movement seen today. This video is obviously not by the gymnasts themselves as filming them warm up is not only prohibited but creepy. Naturally, the girls were much more precise than this video but he did a great job nonetheless. Note, the girls did multiple continuous reps.
All in all, watch some of the top athletes in the world and you’ll quickly see that generalizing rules of the human body to all populations is guessing at best.