For Coaches Endurance running for gymnasts

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littlerock

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Our gym coaches/owners have gotten on this new kick that our 8 - 10 athletes need to endurance run. They feel this will lean them out and give them the endurance for floor. They are making our athletes run, at a full sprint most of the time, for 15 - 20 minutes. I have always believed that endurance running will decrease the fast twitch of an athlete and therfore they lose strength and power. Am I totally off base? For the coaches, how much do you make your atheltes run? My dd seems to be losing skills and not progressing since this routine has started. Is it just coincidence? BTW the owner is a marathon runner and does not have any experience with gymnastics.
 
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Aussie_coach

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Endurance is very important for floor routines, to get that last tumble pass looking fabulous while having enough energy to complete the whole routine. Many gymnasts do fall down when it comes to this situation and dont have the energy to perform all their skills to the best of their ability in a full routine.

Having said that it sounds like the gymnasts are being fatigued to the point that it may endanger them. If the kids are totally exhausted and then required to train skills they are at prime risk of an injury. Watch all the girls closely and look for signs of extreme fatigue, if you are seeing it definatly chat to the coaches.
 

gymdog

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Endurance is important to a point, but for gymnastics we are working for a different thing than a marathon runner. Gymnasts need the endurance to keep moving without rest for longer than their routine (so they aren't tired at the end) but not to run for 15 miles non-stop, and they need to activate their muscles for relatively short but high level "bursts" (don't really know all the proper terms here) after moving at a lower level for some time in between (dance, etc). That said I've been in training groups that ran for 15-20 minutes at a time each practice and I don't think it was enough to reprogram my fast twitch muscles (it was done in addition to plyometric type training too). But I'm not a muscular specialist so I can't really speak to what the average threshold would be. If they just started this regimen, as Aussie said, I would imagine they are probably fatigued and that could be associated with a loss of training ability. I run stairs for about 20 minutes with a couple girls I work out with, and we do it at the end because of that. It could be that they need time to adjust to this routine; did they work up to it at all or start full clip?
 

Gym-Nice-tics

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It could be that they need time to adjust to this routine; did they work up to it at all or start full clip?

That was something that crossed my mind. How long has this new running thing been going on? If it has only been a short time, their bodies are still adjusting.

My team girls, all levels, will often start practice with a "running warm up" That takes roughly ten minutes. But it's not full out sprinting. We do five laps of regular running, one of each of the following: backwards, high knees, butt kicks, striders, chasses in, chasses out, chasses alternating, high toe walks, heel walks, rebounds, single leg hops, lunges, "sumo" squats, duck walks, and frong jumps.

I feel like that warm up has helped us. I feel like running alone doesn't help a gymnast's endurance completely- they need more whole body endurance training. Or at least that is how I am. I can run for extended periods of time and still not make a floor routine. Lol.
 

lannamavity

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Our gym coaches/owners have gotten on this new kick that our 8 - 10 athletes need to endurance run. They feel this will lean them out and give them the endurance for floor. They are making our athletes run, at a full sprint most of the time, for 15 - 20 minutes. I have always believed that endurance running will decrease the fast twitch of an athlete and therfore they lose strength and power. Am I totally off base? For the coaches, how much do you make your atheltes run? My dd seems to be losing skills and not progressing since this routine has started. Is it just coincidence? BTW the owner is a marathon runner and does not have any experience with gymnastics.

There is no way that those kids are running at "full sprint" for 20 minutes. They are jogging. If they can sprint for 20 minutes, then they should be at Olympics for track and field in a month or so.

They could run for 20 minutes a day every day and it's still not going to effect their "fast twitch" muscle. It takes way more mileage to burn out fast twitch muscle.

Our kids run a mile and a half at least three days a week over the Summer. We taper off through the Fall when they are working on routines and the weather gets bad. Most of them can make it under 10 minutes. They are not good runners...in fact, some are horrible, but they know it is good for them.

We are actually considering having them run more often this year.

Sounds like the coaches are doing the right thing.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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The sort of endurance necessary for gymnastics is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the sort of endurance built from distance running.

Gymnastics routines last -- at the absolute most -- 90 seconds. Which means they require anaerobic endurance. Distance running builds up aerobic endurance.

These gymnasts would, in my opinion, be better served by sprinting all-out for 60 seconds or so than by jogging for 15-20 minutes.

EDIT: however, I should mention that while long-term endurance may not make a lick of difference in a competition setting (where a gymnast does 4 routines over the course of about three hours), it can make a big difference in a practice setting (where a gymnast is moving more-or-less nonstop for 3 hours). I personally would not make distance running a part of practice, but I can see why a coach might. IF I were to have my kids do something like this, it would be at the end of the workout.
 
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lannamavity

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The sort of endurance necessary for gymnastics is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the sort of endurance built from distance running.

Gymnastics routines last -- at the absolute most -- 90 seconds. Which means they require anaerobic endurance. Distance running builds up aerobic endurance.

These gymnasts would, in my opinion, be better served by sprinting all-out for 60 seconds or so than by jogging for 15-20 minutes.

EDIT: however, I should mention that while long-term endurance may not make a lick of difference in a competition setting (where a gymnast does 4 routines over the course of about three hours), it can make a big difference in a practice setting (where a gymnast is moving more=or-less nonstop for 3 hours). I personally would not make distance running a part of practice, but I can see why a coach might. IF I were to have my kids do something like this, it would be at the end of the workout.

In my experience, gymnasts (especially girls) in better cardiovascular shape are better all-around athletes. While many people try to draw a sharp line between anaerobic and aerobic fitness, there is no proof that aerobic training (like a 15 minute run) could ever decrease anaerobic performance, and I think a lot of coaches avoid running because gymnasts (with exceptions) are horrible runners... and then complain when their kids are "out of shape."

IMHO, the perfect running workout for a group of optional gymnasts is one that envolves both sprinting and short distance running (and a mile or two is "short distance").
 

JBS

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backwards, high knees, butt kicks, striders, chasses in, chasses out, chasses alternating, high toe walks, heel walks, rebounds, single leg hops, lunges, "sumo" squats, duck walks, and frog jumps.

My Level 6 girls do a 15-20 minute warm-up like the one above. About half of it is jogging.

There is no evidence that running for 20 minutes a day will do anything but make an individual much healthier.:yes: Running is great for gymnasts.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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In my experience, gymnasts (especially girls) in better cardiovascular shape are better all-around athletes. While many people try to draw a sharp line between anaerobic and aerobic fitness, there is no proof that aerobic training (like a 15 minute run) could ever decrease anaerobic performance, and I think a lot of coaches avoid running because gymnasts (with exceptions) are horrible runners... and then complain when their kids are "out of shape."

I certainly didn't mean to imply that it would HINDER their abilities; merely that I don't think it's the most efficient way of helping them.
 

lannamavity

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I certainly didn't mean to imply that it would HINDER their abilities; merely that I don't think it's the most efficient way of helping them.

I didn't get that from your post...I was referring more to the original post which suggested that short distance running could burn out "fast twitch" muscle...

Sorry if it appeared I was suggesting you said that.
 

gymdog

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I am a horrible runner! I have like 5 slow twitch muscles or something. I think it's going to take a lot more than 20 minutes of running to increase them :)

I was in the best shape as a gymnast all around when I was at a gym that did 15-20 minutes of running (with the current coaches, they run around the whole gym, which requires going through a couple different rooms, different surfaces, over the resis, etc - it's probably great for muscle building. I'm always exhausted after doing it, but it's at the end. And I'm not 10. lol) Of course that gym also has a very extensive conditioning program all around so there's something in that too, but yeah.
 
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BlairBob

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20 minutes of running around on floor. Ok, and I will admit I like a few laps and to do the chasses and the like. It's a good group building exercise but takes the edges of the gym floor which makes it more difficult for other groups to do passes of line drills. There is some danger in spraining ankles during the curve of the floor.

Gymnastics is all about the anaerobic. If you're anaerobic, you can be aerobic. If you're flabby, fat and out of shape; you will be poor at being anaerobic. Looking to proper nutrition and conditoning and recovery/sleep regimens is what will make those girls from flab to fit. If you want to simply state the nutrition needs to the gymnasts and parents or do it subtly is your prerogative. With females, I'd be very careful about this, especially toward pre-teen and teen years. To often those femmes are protein, calcium, and iron deficient to their preferred eating habits and diet.

The catch 22 about being anaerobic is you have to be aerobic in the first place. Their needs to be a set level of condition before you sprint and go 100%. However, 20 minutes of running around at a moderate pace is not going to get you anywhere.

It is impossible to " sprint " for 20 minutes. If you think it is, you're a fool who doesn't know jack about running sprints or long slow distance. A body's energy system will not run at peak for that long before transitioning into a whole different energy system.

Body fat composition is higher in long slow distance than sprinters. If you can run 3 miles in 20 minutes, you can probably sprint decently as well. If you only manage about 2, you're not running hard enough. Eventually the body becomes more efficient at doing things anyways like LSD.

Set up a huge circuit with a lot of compound movements for 20 minutes. You'll get a lot more bang for your buck practicing chasse's and those basic drills besides handstands, rolls and cartwheels ( I don't go beyond this as a warmup ) early on and you won't have to do them later. It's a warmup, not a Marine PFT.
Work on legs swings, developes, chasses, lunge walks, inchworms, etc. I wouldn't go straight into handstand walks by handstand forward rolls shouldn't tax the risk and will help warm them up early on.

You'd get a lot more out of these girls doing floor sprints with these girls for 20 minutes and be able to keep up that intensity than asking for them to do it. Know what happens when you redline an engine at Top RPM for 20 minutes. Things pop like pistons, rings, seals. In the human body it's called joints, tendon, and muscles.

Running for 20 minutes would be best at the end of your workouts ( like Geoffrey Taucer reccomended ) but girl's coaches always like to do conditioning first. It's easier to program and get them to do it and not skip it because you are getting carried with skills on events. It's easier to work numbers. Easier is for buttercups.

Too often gymnastics is buried in the Bodybuilding split methodology of working out. Good things like muscle rest and recovery come from BB, but this is one of those bad habits. You cannot train skills as efficiently post conditioning. If you think so, you're still a fool. It is useful to work specific conditioning or statics earlier on ( presses, crosses ) than later after 2-3 hours of workout ( also because of mental tiredness ).

I think these coaches are just looking for the next quick fix that is all too common in America when it comes to working out. However, getting conditioned and not being flabby isn't about short term but slow and long term development ( like stretching ).

Ahh, the owner is a marathon runner. Everybody likes to bring their background with them when coaching. However it is not always suitable. Sure, I'd like my girls and boys to Olympic lift but I don't see it happening. Nor do they need to be able to break bamboo poles with their legs and endure kicks, punches, slams in their training. They don't need to be able to swim like dolphins. They don't need to be able to know the gameplay scenerios and react to them of baseball or football or on the fly like hockey, soccer or basketball. Nor do they need to be able to tell me what exact angle is their cast or know how to spell every gymnastics term ( though they should be a virtual gymnastics glossary as I tell them so when I ask for a position, they hear it and show it ).

BTW, if they were truly sprinting, there would be girls getting knocked out of the way as the fasters ones lapped and passed them. During a race, the slow 5 minute milers would get lapped by the 4 minute+ milers. I know this all too well. Doesn't mean I still could dust them in a lap or half lap besides throwing myself over a pole or throwing a big heavy ball farther than them.
 
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littlerock

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Wow, ok maybe I was not very clear so let me explain and be clear that I am just a parent not a coach.

These girls are in no way flabby. They actually all did very well last season all making it to regionals and 2 to Nationals. (We have a small program that only has 12 Level 8 – 10 girls) The heavy conditioning and running started right after our 1st meet in November. This was an abrupt change to the previous conditioning and running they had been doing. Their difficulty in tumbling was definitely better in the summer months but over this season the majority have digressed and lost the skills that they had learned. This year only 4 girls qualified to Regionals. Someone mentioned to me that this could be because they were endurance running and that can change fast twitch to slow twitch and it can also decrease strength. I have no idea if this information is correct that is why I decided to ask the question. Do I think that they are all out sprinting the entire 15 - 20 minutes…..NO. My dd is great at sprinting but can’t run for long periods of time to save her life, so to her anything over a jog probably feels like sprinting. The coaches do put the girl who has the most endurance and speed to lead the running and she is not allowed to pass the end of the line. When she does catch up the end of the line girls are told they need to speed up. (We are only allowed in the gym twice a month so this is hard to monitor) BTW – Every one of our level 8 – 10 girls has been injured since all of this started in November and have had to miss at least 1 meet or more this season. The majority of these girls are not whiners they do understand the need to condition in order to perform their best. With that said they are all miserable with the change in the coach’s attitudes towards them and the amount of running and conditioning that they are doing. They are all thinking about quitting and that is no exageration, it is just a very sad situation to see thier love of the sport fading away. And yes we will, as a group, be speaking to the coaches about this situation.
 

gymdog

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It sounds like their training isn't being managed that well right now. Don't be insulted by us or anything, I don't think anyone meant anything personally :) People are just feeding off the information and offering insight generally or to other coaches who might want the info, too.

I hope your meeting goes well! Please let us know how it goes. I don't want to go into a ton of details but I've been in a very similar situation. I regret the choice I made but whatever, water under the bridge or something like that. I would recommend that you also ask to meet with the coach individually, by phone, face to face, wherever you all are comfortable with discussing your specific concerns. This is important, for everyone involved, to be able to hear both sides of the story specifically. Otherwise it turns into a rumor mill and the truth will be obscured. This can very easily get away from everyone and leave everyone worse off. Write down all your concerns beforehand, otherwise there is a chance you will be talking and things will kind of get blown off and you'll be left with an unsatisfactory resolution. If you feel the situation is satisfactory for your DD and she agrees, then I would set a timeline. i.e. we will continue here for the summer, and we need to see measurable improvement in the situation by August. If you have been happy with this gym before and your daughter has generally responded to the way things are done, I wouldn't make any rash decisions as part of a group. There's a tendency there for everyone to kind of go along with it thinking everyone is really convinced when no one is really convinced, you know?

Good luck. It's a sticky situation to be in when you are dealing with such tremendous commitments and long time friends. I don't envy you at all and the deep disappointment when a formerly positive situation goes south is really hard to deal with. I hope you guys get some answers.
 
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gracefulone

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This had been such an interesting topic for me to read through. I am a level 7 gymnast, but I also do highschool track and field. I'm not at gymnastics much during track season, but when I come back, I definitely notice a difference. At track, I pole vault and do jumps, but we always do really nice sprint workouts. They are things like doing sprint ladders-50m, 150m, 250m, then back down; 6-8 200m at a 35 second pace, 200m full out, wait 10 seconds, then a 100m full out, which we'd do 6 times. We also had a 10minute wokrout that I thought was really good. You sprint 100m, then jog back. You have one minute to do so. Then when the minute is up, you go and do it again fo 10 sets. The faster you run, the more rest you have. For me,these workouts really seem to help me with my floor routine and being able to really make the last pass.
 
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KBT

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My team girls, all levels, will often start practice with a "running warm up" That takes roughly ten minutes. But it's not full out sprinting. We do five laps of regular running, one of each of the following: backwards, high knees, butt kicks, striders, chasses in, chasses out, chasses alternating, high toe walks, heel walks, rebounds, single leg hops, lunges, "sumo" squats, duck walks, and frong jumps.

I like this workout. You get your cardio and some strength in at the same time plus it simulates a floor routine better than straight running. I often did circuits as conditioning with my girls: their hardest tumbling pass on the TT, jump over the low beam 10 times, get on the high beam and do their leap pass, 10 V-ups, run up and down the stairs, bear crawl down the tumbling strip, back extension roll down the hill, 10 tricep dips. Repeat 8-10 times. This is an exhausting workout, but it also requires the girls to tumble when they're tired, to do their leaps when they're tired. I'd sometimes do sprints with my girls, too.

As far as warmups, we did a bit of cardio, but mostly just to get the body warmed up. 300 jump ropes, or 10 stairs or a 10 minute jog. I've always felt conflicted as a coach about running; it seems like a really good thing, but I don't have any evidence one way or the other. Plus running ability doesn't correlate with gymnastics ability.

As far as the injuries go, the body gets worn down during the season. When I was in high school I believed we were conditioning too hard (and this wasn't just me wanting to get out of conditioning!) Everyone was exhausted. And we had a lot of injuries because of it. I have no problems with lots of conditioning in the beginning of the season, but that should taper down to strength maintenance later in the season and more full routines.
 
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BlairBob

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Yep, jumping rope for 20 minutes would be better. As much as I like jumping jacks as an all body warmup, they are impossible to do for 20 minutes and consider a warmup versus a workout. Too much on the calves. Personally tramp or tumbl-trak circuits with dynamic stretching in between is a great warmup. I hesistate to do sprints in a warmup because I consider them an intense activity on the body's energy system as well as the joints and connective tissues.

My apologies for perhaps coming off on a high horse. I could get into body fat testing but I agreed with another friend and female coach, that delving into body fat and eating issues is extremely sensitive with pre-teen and teen gymnasts. However, even if the ones we consider fit were to do a BFT, they would come a bit on the high end though seeming like machines. BFT is really cruel that way and I've see in shape and out of shape college aged female athletes freak and cry at it.

Sprint ladders are awesome for building aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Best of both worlds really considering time invested versus long slow distance. Time is so precious and I think as coaches we feel we never have enough though there are some days it goes by too slow.
 

ACoach78

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In my experience, gymnasts (especially girls) in better cardiovascular shape are better all-around athletes. While many people try to draw a sharp line between anaerobic and aerobic fitness, there is no proof that aerobic training (like a 15 minute run) could ever decrease anaerobic performance, and I think a lot of coaches avoid running because gymnasts (with exceptions) are horrible runners... and then complain when their kids are "out of shape."

IMHO, the perfect running workout for a group of optional gymnasts is one that envolves both sprinting and short distance running (and a mile or two is "short distance").


I don't have time to go dig out all of the research, but here's an abstract of a published literature review on the effects of endurance training on power.

Last time I checked, power was a very desired quality in gymnasts. Do you think Shawn Johnson is doing 20 minutes of endurance training everyday? Doubtful.


Elliott, MC, Wagner, PP, & Chiu, L.
Power athletes and distance training: physiological and biomechanical rationale for change. Sports Med. 2007;37(1):47-57. Review.

Here's the abstract:

The development of power lies at the foundation of all movement, especially athletic performance. Unfortunately, training programmes of athletes often seek to improve cardiovascular endurance through activities such as distance training that are detrimental for the performance of power athletes, rather than using other means of exercise. Performance decrements from continuous aerobic training can be a result of inappropriate neuromuscular adaptations, a catabolic hormonal profile, an increased risk for overtraining and an ineffective motor learning environment. However, long, sustained exercise continues to be employed at all levels of competition to obtain benefits that could be achieved more effectively through other forms of conditioning. While some advantageous effects of endurance training may occur, there are unequivocal drawbacks to distance training in the power athlete. There are many other types of conditioning that are more relevant to all anaerobic sports and will also avoid the negative consequences associated with distance training.


**************************


Gymnasts need to develop overall anaerobic endurance and more specifically, power endurance. A good cardiovascular base is certainly a good thing, but it can be obtained by more specific means. With that said, I have no problem with gymnasts doing some very low intensity endurance training a couple times a week during one or two cycles in the off-season for the purpose of enhancing their recovery mechanisms. But, even that is debatable.

Personally, I have run very little in the past 6-8 months (< 10 times). But, I strength train like crazy and I do a lot of high intensity lifting. My aerobic endurance has not suffered at all. I can still run the same 1-2-3 mile time I could before. Have I improved dramatically? No...but, I don't need to. That's not what I'm training for, specifically. My HR is still in the low 50's consistently. And, I'm still sporting a six-pack. Plus, when I roll in jiu jitsu for 7 or 8 minutes straight at a high intensity, I'm not even close to being gassed.

You've only got to be able to last 1:30 for a floor routine. You need about 45 seconds for a bar set. You need 10 s for a vault and a minute or so for a beam routine.

So, why do you need to spend your time training for endurance? What benefit are you gaining from training the Type IIa (Fast-Twitch Intermediate) fibers to be more aerobic in function?
 

lannamavity

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Sep 13, 2007
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I don't have time to go dig out all of the research, but here's an abstract of a published literature review on the effects of endurance training on power.

Last time I checked, power was a very desired quality in gymnasts. Do you think Shawn Johnson is doing 20 minutes of endurance training everyday? Doubtful.


Elliott, MC, Wagner, PP, & Chiu, L. Power athletes and distance training: physiological and biomechanical rationale for change. Sports Med. 2007;37(1):47-57. Review.

Here's the abstract:

The development of power lies at the foundation of all movement, especially athletic performance. Unfortunately, training programmes of athletes often seek to improve cardiovascular endurance through activities such as distance training that are detrimental for the performance of power athletes, rather than using other means of exercise. Performance decrements from continuous aerobic training can be a result of inappropriate neuromuscular adaptations, a catabolic hormonal profile, an increased risk for overtraining and an ineffective motor learning environment. However, long, sustained exercise continues to be employed at all levels of competition to obtain benefits that could be achieved more effectively through other forms of conditioning. While some advantageous effects of endurance training may occur, there are unequivocal drawbacks to distance training in the power athlete. There are many other types of conditioning that are more relevant to all anaerobic sports and will also avoid the negative consequences associated with distance training.


**************************


Gymnasts need to develop overall anaerobic endurance and more specifically, power endurance. A good cardiovascular base is certainly a good thing, but it can be obtained by more specific means. With that said, I have no problem with gymnasts doing some very low intensity endurance training a couple times a week during one or two cycles in the off-season for the purpose of enhancing their recovery mechanisms. But, even that is debatable.

Personally, I have run very little in the past 6-8 months (< 10 times). But, I strength train like crazy and I do a lot of high intensity lifting. My aerobic endurance has not suffered at all. I can still run the same 1-2-3 mile time I could before. Have I improved dramatically? No...but, I don't need to. That's not what I'm training for, specifically. My HR is still in the low 50's consistently. And, I'm still sporting a six-pack. Plus, when I roll in jiu jitsu for 7 or 8 minutes straight at a high intensity, I'm not even close to being gassed.

You've only got to be able to last 1:30 for a floor routine. You need about 45 seconds for a bar set. You need 10 s for a vault and a minute or so for a beam routine.

So, why do you need to spend your time training for endurance? What benefit are you gaining from training the Type IIa (Fast-Twitch Intermediate) fibers to be more aerobic in function?


As I said before...the point is that a 20 minute run (I'm assuming these girls ran maybe a mile and a half at most) is not going to lead to a significant decline in performance, which is in answer to the question in the original post. A mile run is not "distance training". It's about as close to distance training as doing 20 minutes of chasses around the floor.

The very information you have posted is the same information that many people use to justify why they don't run even short distances, which is their choice. I agree that gymnasts don't build power or speed by running...but that isn't the point. We do tons of anaerobic training during floor rotations and conditioning circuits to build speed and power. The girls do a variety of movements as well as specific plyometric exercises. It's part of an overall program.
 

lannamavity

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"Last time I checked, power was a very desired quality in gymnasts. Do you think Shawn Johnson is doing 20 minutes of endurance training everyday? Doubtful."



I don't think she trains at the gym we are talking about.

In fact, she may be training rowing for the next week or so...
 
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