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Muscular bodies

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Lilou

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I have loved watching gymnastics and cheering on Team USA. I'm new to gymnastics, even as a spectator. Has anyone noticed that it's mostly the US girls who have extremely little body fat and have super strong visible muscle compared to others? The gymnasts from other countries are no doubt extremely strong, but their physique isn't as muscularly defined at the American ladies. Why do you think this is? Do you think the US ladies are training more hours, or doing different kinds of training?
Do you think it's needed? Other countries gymnasts are on top too. I am not making any judgement here just curious what others think as I'm not sure what to think really. And even if it matters as long as the gymnastics is good.
 

Iwannabemargo

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I don't think at that level its they have more muscles through training, I think it may be down to genetics and body type. If you were to measure the bodyfat of any of those girls at that final I think they would all be about the same.

There are genetic differences, so some genetics allow you to "bulk up" some give you long and lean.

Look at Sprinters at the olympics vs the 10,000m runners. Its no coincidence that the genetic advantages mean that all the top distance runners come from east african/maghrebine decent.
 
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gymisforeveryone

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This is little off topic, but am I the only one who has heard from non-gymnastics people comments like "it's not possible for women to become as muscular as Simon Biles without using some kind of hormons and doping, it's just biology and it's not possible".... Comments like that irritate me soooo much. I think the gymnasts are the least likely athletes to use any kind of doping. And you can just go and watch pictures of Simon Biles as a child. Look at her calf muscles. She certainly wasn't doping at age 10.
 

cadybearsmommy

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I think there are a lot of reasons. For one, the new rules and difficulty of gymnastics do cater to the stronger more powerful gymnasts. So since difficulty and power is what is scoring well those gymnasts are the ones that seem to be more likely to make it to the Olympics, etc in the US bc the talent pool is so deep. We do have more petite gymnasts in the US as well just look at Ragan who was an alternate. There are a lot of up and coming juniors who have the more petite build as well.

Another reason is that older girls are staying in the sport. It used to be rare to see many 19-20 year olds in gymnastics. Now we have gymnasts who are in their 20's and in some countries even older. Understandably with age comes a different body type.

I also think gymnasts especially in the US are eating better. Not all that long ago it was common for gymnasts to restrict calories in order to stay small. To build the kind of muscle the girls of today have you have to properly nourish your body. I've heard that high protein diets are more common among gymnasts of today. Also carbs aren't deemed as evil anymore either bc healthy carbs give you energy to get the through the grueling workouts.

It really bothers me when people say that gymnasts like Simone must be using steroids. These girls are tested on a regular basis and there has never been any reason to suspect that they have been using something illegal. They work very hard to stay strong and healthy.
 

GymmieC

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I also think gymnasts especially in the US are eating better. Not all that long ago it was common for gymnasts to restrict calories in order to stay small. To build the kind of muscle the girls of today have you have to properly nourish your body. I've heard that high protein diets are more common among gymnasts of today. Also carbs aren't deemed as evil anymore either bc healthy carbs give you energy to get the through the grueling workouts
I Love this! Thank goodness the tiny, little sprite isn't the go-to kind anymore. I watched the Chinese athletes in the Olympics, and I am sorry but I had to comment-"Wow are they small!" No wonder they do not have the power the US girls have. This is definitely a component of the new age USA gymnastics that I am loving!
 

Terry

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With each quad the COP favors power more and more. So there is a natural selection process favoring certain genetics and body types, plus the intense training these girls do. I just love it.
 
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cadybearsmommy

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I Love this! Thank goodness the tiny, little sprite isn't the go-to kind anymore. I watched the Chinese athletes in the Olympics, and I am sorry but I had to comment-"Wow are they small!" No wonder they do not have the power the US girls have. This is definitely a component of the new age USA gymnastics that I am loving!
It's amazing isn't it? And to think these same girls that are dominating now may have very well been told 20 years ago that they didn't have the "right" body type for gymnastics. It blows my mind to sometimes read on here that there are still coaches out there that will tell young kids and their parents this?
 

Dahlia

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I Love this! Thank goodness the tiny, little sprite isn't the go-to kind anymore. I watched the Chinese athletes in the Olympics, and I am sorry but I had to comment-"Wow are they small!" No wonder they do not have the power the US girls have. This is definitely a component of the new age USA gymnastics that I am loving!
I think this is largely why China is not dominant anymore. I suspect their national program still dies restricted diets and such to keep girls small and it's backfiring under the new scoring.
 

gymdog

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This is little off topic, but am I the only one who has heard from non-gymnastics people comments like "it's not possible for women to become as muscular as Simon Biles without using some kind of hormons and doping, it's just biology and it's not possible".... Comments like that irritate me soooo much. I think the gymnasts are the least likely athletes to use any kind of doping. And you can just go and watch pictures of Simon Biles as a child. Look at her calf muscles. She certainly wasn't doping at age 10.
People really think that? I think Simone is a not a very compelling example, go look at any body building competition and you'll see women who are much more cut than her. Simone is very strong and powerful of course in terms of sheer muscle activation, but her physique to me is very female. Even in gymnastics we have girls that look more muscular than Simone to me.

But the bottom line is half of Simone's ability simply comes from a greater awareness of how to do gymnastics and confidence that she can make these skills. This is a gymnast who as a 6 year old child watched a group of cheerleaders do standing back tucks, said she could too, and did it, and THEN DID IT ON A BEAM when jokingly challenged. She had just started gymnastics. She was naturally strong and her fast twitch muscle is incredible, but part of it is just naturally understanding how to gymnastics ("I can do that").

So yeah, just doping would not create a Simone Biles, not even close.
 

ldw4mlo

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I think they do a ton of conditioning and weight work over and above their gymnastic training. And a lot of it is genetics.

When I quit smoking oh about 18 yrs ago, I joined a gym and hired at trainer. Changed my body completely. I was "cut". I was single, no kids, and had hours to spend in the gym. Yet I didn't have the "6 pack of some" close but not there. And I would be working out with my trainer and pointing out all the 6 packs I wished for. I was like, "How do I get her 6 pack.????????????? And he would say you would have to be her sister.
 

txgymfan

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I know people say Simone is built but I saw some pictures of Aly at practice. Wow! Madison is strong, no doubt, but in street clothes, you would have no idea how strong she is.
 
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Terry

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Elite gymnasts pretty much never work out with weights. Its all using body weight.
 

kecks

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acutually taking steroids would be extremly helpful for a gymnast. they need to be strong and fast and they need to train a lot. steroids do just that: they allow you do train more by making your recovery times much shorter which means you can grow more muscle mass while staying extremly lean and also get stronger and faster and more explosive. steroids are just thankfully not part of the gymnastics culture. they would be very useful. (and illegal and very dangerous and unhealthy, too.)
 

gymdog

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Define "weights" - some of them definitely use weights. Maybe not necessarily focusing on Olympic lifts.
 
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ayyyrial

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I've heard that steroid use doesn't help gymnastics much at all because so much of it is about the complex way you use the muscle, not just having the physique and the power. Not sure if it's true.

Also gotta say that elite gymnasts the world over, USA included, are on restricted diets. So many modern-era gymnasts like Shawn Johnson and McKayla Maroney have talked about it that we can't point to other countries exclusively for that. I think the body type differences are mostly due to the selection process - especially the emphasis through TOPS is so heavily on strength testing. Also in the US, it is just possible for more girls to do high-level gymnastics with good coaches and good facilities than in other countries. Giving more kids a chance to try helps the best rise to the top.
 
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Dahlia

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I believe the "restricted" diets in the US today are more about specific healthy foods rather than the reduced calorie diets such as Moceanu was subhect to, which in all likelihood stunted her growth by being malnourished.
 
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