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become a pro

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dan129834

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hey, im 21 years old, started gymnastics a few months ago, and it seems i have pretty natural approach to gymnastics.
my biggest dream is to become an elite athlete. when i started gymnastics, it was the most fun and interesting sports i ever done, and i kinda reggret it that i didnt went to gymnastics class when i was younger. i need some advices, as a beginner, is it possible to become a pro starting at age 21(not neccesarily an olympic gymnast, but a competitive gymnast)?
and another thing, can yoga or pilates help me increase my flexibility in addition to the gymnastics class? and if so what would be better, yoga or pilates?
please be honest, and if you know someone who started lately in their life and became pros, i will thank you very much if you can tell me their own story, and how long did it took them to become pros? after all i have at least 15 years to catch up, even though i have a good strength basis.
 

Aussie_coach

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Have I ever heard of anyone starting gymnastics at 21 or later and become elite or internationally competitive? No, never.

Have I heard of anyone starting gymnastics at age 21 or later and become a competitive gymnast? Yes, multiple people.
 

dan129834

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thank you, its really encourage me, can you share with me some experience? how many hours a week i should train, how many years should it take me? and if yoga or pilates can help me with improving my flexibility, which one is better?
and if you have some advices for me about which exercises i can do in the gym to help me strenghten my power for gymnastics skills like muscle ups, planches, crosses etc.
sorry that im a bit annoying, im just very passionate about this sport, and im very interested in becoming good at it.
 

Aussie_coach

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Well the first part is finding a gym. I am from Australia so I don’t know what it is like Where you are from, but around here most gyms offer adult gymnastics classes. Usually once or twice a week for 1 1/2-2 hours. One of our local gymnastics clubs is an adults only club, so they do adults every night of the week. So a search of your local area for adult gymnastics classes is the first step.

As far as competition, it depends what you want to do. Around here we have what are called “masters competitions”. So they are gymnastics competitions for adults, some of the clubs with adult classes will have their gymnasts working towards these if they are keen to compete.

If you want to compete in the regular levels program, you will need to find a gym that is prepared to take an adult onto their regular training teams. Most will not do that, but again speaking for my area and experience some will do that it you are prepared to make the required commitment. It may take a long time to find the right place. Gymnastics teams usually train 4-5 days a week for 3-5 hours a day.
 

dan129834

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currently im training in an adult class, so the first step is done. about the others i'll talk to my coach.
last thing, could you tell me what will improve my flexibility more- yoga or pilates?
and if you can give me some exercises to develop strength for later and more advanced skills?(like planche, cross, press to handstand etc.)
 

Carabistouille

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Not necessarily the answer you are looking for, but I would be careful not to over-exercise on your own. Those strength moves you mention are pretty advanced and you could injure yourself training them unsupervised. Muscles should be developped in a balanced way (for instance if you want to build abs you also have to train your back muscles, otherwise your body will develop unevenly and you will surely enough injure yourself) and in a purposeful way (you want to muscle up but not become tight, to develop explosive power, to develop joins stability for landings...). Those are thing you cannot improvise.
Also, if you were not that much into sports before, be careful not to do too much too soon : training loads should go up gradually.
I honestly wouldn't do much except maybe some core work (basically planking - work abs and back, and be careful of holding hollow shape if your form is not good).
How many hours per week are you training at the moment ?

No idea about yoga and/or pilates, I don't know either well enough to answer.

I'm certainly not a pro but I strarted in my early 20s and became a competitive gymnast (around USAG level 7) so it's certainly possible. I'm female though.
 
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dan129834

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Hey thanks for your answer, actually its a great answer and probably one that i wanted to hear. Im training in gym for almost 5 years, so things like preventing injuries, always good to hear cause i never had one and i dont want to have one.
Im training almost 2 hours a week in gymnastics, and about 6 hours a week of weights in the gym(excluding cardio warm ups and stretching). My intention is to change my workouts in the gym to more gymnastics specific workouts, more bodyweight and explosive exercises, and weights exercises that are more required for gymnastics strength. My current routine and muscles are very balanced, actually that's my biggest strength.
What i was looking for are some exercises i can add to my workouts in the gym that can help me increase strength for these more advanced skills, from beginner to advanced. I have pretty good strength fundamentals, but in terms of gym(i can do 24 pull ups, and 16 perfect tchnique dips, but it doesnt help with gymnastics skills)
In short, im looking for drills and exercises to help me build strength for these skills from zero(skills like planche, press handstand, muscle ups, cross,)
Btw, although im training in gym for 5 years, im not as very as people might think, i weigh 69 kg, and my height is 1.72m.
 

Carabistouille

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It's a good thing you are used to exercising, as it means you are both in good shape and able to implement a balanced training program, at least to some extent.

I can't really help you with those ring elements because, being female, I never really trained them or coached them. The only one I really know something about is press handstand although I'm by no mean an expert (and I actually can't do them). Here are some tips/ideas :

- from what you said, there is a good chance you are already strong enough to do a press handstand,

- one of the most critical skill to achieve a press handstand is having good straddle flexibility (i.e. being able to keep your legs close to your torso in a straddle position). Are you able to do a good straddle L-sit ? Do your legs hit the floor when you initiate the pressing movement from L-sit ? I so, your flexibility is probably an issue.
You can work around the issue by doing them from an elevated surface like paralettes while working on your flexibility.

- another very common exercise for the end of the press handstand is the one presened at around 16:00 in this video. Notice the position of her toes, which are pointed : it should be done that way as it prevents you from cheating it.
Do not cheat it by jumping or by pushing with your toes, even if it's just a little bit. If it's too challenging for you, start with your feet higher up so that you can do it without cheating. The aim is to be able to do it with your feet on the floor.

- to do press handstands (and planche), you will need to lean forward with your shoulders in front of your wrists. This can be very hard on the wrists. Some people have naturally flexible wrist but most people don't (actually handstands can even be a problem for some people).
To avoid wrists issues, you should limit the number of repetition you do with your hands on the floor, maybe even avoid them altogether. Work them on paralletes as much as possible. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop doing what you are doing.


Here is another advice I wish ws given to me when I started gymnastics in my 20s.
Like you, gymnatics always came very easily to me, especially tumbling which felt very natural. During my first year of gymnastics, I did most of my skills on the first try (ro-back tuck, ro-back layout, front tuck, front layout), which of course felt great.
But because those relatively hard skills felt very easy, I never really worked on very basic skills. You teach young kids how to hurdle, how to run, but I was never taught because I didn't need it to do the skills I was doing (and also because there is this idea that adults are not really going anywhere with their gymnastics, so why bother fixing their hurdling technique if they are having fun doing back layouts into the pit ?). Now I'm working on ro- full twist and 1 1/2 and my (very bad) hurdle is holding me back because, for those harder skills, I need all the power I can get. Same with vault : I have a terrible run which was good enough for front handsprings but I struggle with tsuks because of it.
So my advice would be to be very careful with basic technique because even if it does not hold you back now, it probably will in the future.
 

dan129834

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Hey, thank you for your reply, i'l comment on each point you mentioned.

-First thing, you right about the flexibility, it is an issue, im not very tight, but still not flexible enough but i am improving from class to class.

-Although it seems like im strong enougth to perform press handstand, it still very difficult, i cant even raise my feet of the ground if im doing it from standing position. L-sit is another thing im still not quite able to do, maybe on paralletes, i didnt try yet, but straddle L is a bit easier and still i cant bring my legs backward to the beginning motion of the press handstand.

-I cant see the video you posted, can you send it again so i'll see what is the exercise you were talking about?

-About wrist flexibility its actually not a problem, im working on it even though im already quite flexible there.

Well this really helped me, i'll try next time to do some L-sit and straddle L-sits on paralletes, and i'll try to press it up to a handstand. Maybe if you know someone who can tell you how to train for these rings elements, or even build the strength fundamentals for these skills, cause its really different the power in gymnastics and in the gym, i can do 200 pull ups but not 1 muscle up.
Again, thank you very much for these advices, i will implement them to my training, and i'll work on my runnings and hurdles. I'll be really thankful if you would also be able to help me with these ring elements, currently im using the exercises presented in this video:
 

Carabistouille

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Sorry for the delay...

-Although it seems like im strong enougth to perform press handstand, it still very difficult, i cant even raise my feet of the ground if im doing it from standing position. L-sit is another thing im still not quite able to do, maybe on paralletes, i didnt try yet, but straddle L is a bit easier and still i cant bring my legs backward to the beginning motion of the press handstand.
It's quite normal that your straddle L sit is easier than pike L-sit.

I cant see the video you posted, can you send it again so i'll see what is the exercise you were talking about?
Sorry, I must have messed something up. Here is the video (around the 16:00 time stamp : Again, it's about finding the mat height that suits you : not too high (it should be challenging) but not too low (it should be achievable without cheating it). If it's too challenging, it's better to lift your feet off the mat and hold the straddle position for a few seconds than to cheat it to handstand.
Also, for the first part of the press handstand, could you have someone spot you (on parallettes) ? Do not bend your arms.

About wrist flexibility its actually not a problem, im working on it even though im already quite flexible there.
Good, but you should still use parallettes as much as possible.

Maybe if you know someone who can tell you how to train for these rings elements, or even build the strength fundamentals for these skills, cause its really different the power in gymnastics and in the gym, i can do 200 pull ups but not 1 muscle up.
I'll be really thankful if you would also be able to help me with these ring elements, currently im using the exercises presented in this video.
I really don't know a thing about rings sorry... Maybe make a post in the MAG forum ?
I mean what is said in the video kind of makes sense. Some of those skills might be more achievable than others : an iron cross, while obviously hard to do, is less advanced than a maltese.
I think most guys I train with don't necessarily do a lot of weight training, although they do a bit, but they train the skills with help (with a spot, with therabands, with this thing [sorry I don't know the name even in French, much less in English, ask your gym if they have one]).

Is there any possibility you could train one more weekly session in a gymnastics gym ? It might help a bit.
 

Cmumgym

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A little bit of advice with weights. When you use weights you gain bulk muscle. What you want to gain in gymnastics is fast muscle. It’s like in fighting when you see the big muscles go against a smaller physique the bigger guy has a huge hit but is slow on his feet and after one hit is puffed from having so much weight to carry. Gymnastics is about building each individual muscle instead of bulk gains that you gain with weights. Your better off using elastic straps and focusing on individualised muscles. With your straddle press you might have the strength to gain it but you also need flexibility. Research with your gym the skills needed for competition and work with them towards that.
 

dan129834

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Hey, i actually ordered paralletes, im just waiting for them to arrive so i will work on them and thank you for the video, i'll work on it.
I can have someone to spot me, i'll ask my coach. I also asked her about having more sessions through the week, and she said i can come if i want, i have 2 more optional days to come.
A little bit of advice with weights. When you use weights you gain bulk muscle. What you want to gain in gymnastics is fast muscle. It’s like in fighting when you see the big muscles go against a smaller physique the bigger guy has a huge hit but is slow on his feet and after one hit is puffed from having so much weight to carry. Gymnastics is about building each individual muscle instead of bulk gains that you gain with weights. Your better off using elastic straps and focusing on individualised muscles. With your straddle press you might have the strength to gain it but you also need flexibility. Research with your gym the skills needed for competition and work with them towards that.
About the gym, im making my training more gymastics and bodyweight trained, adding stretches to my routines to increase flexibility, and im starting to work on explosive strength. I've stopped all the bulking cycles that gym lifters do, and im working more on lossing weight and gaining strength, to help with gymnastics skills, so you can say im already trying to do what you're saying here. thanks a lot for the response, maybe you know some basic drills, exercises and skills for the rings?
 

dan129834

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Hey, sorry to bring the post up again, but i saw Iordan Iovtchev competed in the olympics when he was 39, so i thought to myself maybe even if i started late, i still have enough time to catch up if i'll train smart. i mean if you start at age 4 and start competting when your like 16 then its at least 12 years of training. Im pretty sure that he didnt start at 21 like me, but the fact that i have this 10 or even 15 years to train for competitions, and it still wouldnt be too old, just gave me motivation, so i thought i would share it.
with that being said, im keeping in my mind that probably for sure i wont be an olympian, but at least i would have fun doing my best shot.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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How broadly do you define "going pro?"

I've never heard of somebody starting at 21 and becoming a sponsored professional gymnast; however, I have met several who started that late and ended up doing something acrobatic for a living (circus shows and the like).

So if your goal is to go to the Olympics, you're probably out of luck.
But if your goal is to perform in Cirque du Soleil, go for it.
 

dan129834

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Well of course the olympics are the big dream, but being realistic, its not possible, and if i will do it i would probably be the first in the history.
So the olympics would stay in my dreams, but at least i dream big. My realistic goal is to compete in lower levels, maybe championships in my country and things like that, and even aim for a medal. at least i wanna feel that im doing my best. im also quiet heavy right now, and i plan to diet a little bit so i would be more light and i would be able to progress faster and better.
Bottom line, im doing my best, the fact i that started late shouldnt stop me from doing that :)
 
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