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Strength. Is it genetic?

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Gymettemom

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My 11 yo DD competed level 5 last year and is desperately trying to be level 7 this season. However, it seems that is just not going to happen became of bars. Namely, Giants and cast to HS. DD just doesn't have the strength needed for the upper level skills. She tumbles well and excels on beam. However, without strength, she struggles on bars.
My question(s) is, how can a group of Girls all do the same exact conditioning, but some get muscular and strong and some don't?
Is muscularity generic? Is it diet related? Can it be overcome?
 

Seeker

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There is most definitely a genetic component, although I'm no geneticist! Just speaking from personal experience, I am very naturally strong -- I don't do anything particular to maintain it, I just am. Been this was since I was a kid. My Dad was the same way and so is one of my sisters, so it seems genetic to me.

As for your dd, if she's lacking upper body strength needed for bars, I would talk with her coach about building out some specific conditioning for her to address her deficits or potentially work with a trainer to build up the strength that she is lacking.
 

Sasha

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Most definitely. Some people build muscle more quickly and easily, and others don't (like pretty much anything else).

Recently there was a migration of about 10 gymnasts to our gym from a nearby one that closed. Their program was 'pretty good', and there were some good gymnasts with lovely form, but it was excruciatingly obvious once they started in our program alongside our girls that nearly every one of them lacked strength, tone, and endurance (comparatively). You could tell both by watching them struggle in conditioning and drills, and by simply looking at their 'softness' compared to the other girls. Their gym did not do nearly as much conditioning, and the girls were unable to keep pace - EXCEPT for 2 girls who obviously had natural strength above and beyond the typical gymnast. Even though their cardio conditioning and some endurance was still behind our more-conditioned girls, their muscle definition and size was visibly apparent, and not-coincidentally, these were the 2 top-scoring, most advanced girls from their team. Though they didn't do any more conditioning, they had built significantly more strength (from getting to know them and their parents, they did not play other sports or take extra conditioning).

My son is also like this. Bulging, defined muscles before he ever stepped in a gym or played a sport. His team-mates with stick arms do the exact same conditioning. It is an early advantage to skill acquisition. He works hard, but is genetically lucky also.

Your daughter probably has other strengths, but perhaps natural muscle-building is one she will have to work harder on. A good coach should give her specific exercises to work on her weaker areas.

Just my anecdotes, but that's the opinion I have formed as a non-expert observer :) I wish your daughter the best of success! I have no doubt she can accomplish anything she wishes with the right strength exercises for her. Plenty of wonderful gymnasts started out without the gift of natural strength (many more flexible instead). It can be done for sure!
 
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gymjunkie

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Yes, genes do matter. But, when kids don't get stronger from conditioning it's often a form issue (poor form used when they are conditioning). Is the conditioning highly supervised with form being continuously corrected?
 

vagymmomma

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Agree with Gymjunkie that even though genetics matters, so does the right form AND the right exercises.

As an aside, I have worked with a genetics company (animals) for many years (I am an adviser on the business side). Believe it or not, even something like fat marbling is a heritable trait and is used as a selection criteria. The other thing the geneticists have learned though is that even the finest physical specimen from a lab standard does not necessarily perform well in a more stressful environment. They evaluate performance from many perspectives. It's a fascinating business. I think similar analogies can be made to gymnastics though. Feed matters. Healthcare. Housing. And sometimes it's the intangibles that make a big difference.

Sorry OP - kind of off topic! Just saying genetics are just one piece of gymnastics.
 

Gymettemom

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DD's conditioning is definitely well supervised and corrected if form is bad. Our gym does a lot more conditioning than many gyms in our area. They are excellent gymnasts and won level 5 states last year for our region. DD is also a great gymnast, but just cannot build upper body strength.
DD has very cut, defined legs and a 6 pack, but her arms are just little sticks.
HC did tell her she needs to be doing press handstands at home, but DD cannot do them and so gets very frustrated with herself.
Sometimes I don't know if it's worth tears to make her workout at home when she is already in the gym 16h/week.
 

wallinbl

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Yes, genes do matter. But, when kids don't get stronger from conditioning it's often a form issue (poor form used when they are conditioning). Is the conditioning highly supervised with form being continuously corrected?
Obviously you can't control genetics, but you can control form, effort, and diet. Work harder and eat better than everyone else, and you'll know you've done your best. When you're beat by a Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, or Michael Phelps, acknowledge their greatness, and be satisfied that you know you gave it your best.
 
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gasrgoose

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Obviously you can't control genetics, but you can control form, effort, and diet. Work harder and eat better than everyone else, and you'll know you've done your best. When you're beat by a Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, or Michael Phelps, acknowledge their greatness, and be satisfied that you know you gave it your best.
In addition, the girls who are already stronger are casting higher, swinging more giants, doing more skills during the same practice time. Because of their strength advantage they are able to do more and get stronger. It's difficult to catch up with out extra conditioning. Obviously, she won't catch up to the genetically stronger girls (Example, Kyla Ross will never catch Simone on strength and power), but she can improve her strength following what wallinbl described above
 

gymjunkie

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HC did tell her she needs to be doing press handstands at home, but DD cannot do them and so gets very frustrated with herself.
Sometimes I don't know if it's worth tears to make her workout at home when she is already in the gym 16h/week.
I wouldn't make her do extra conditioning at home, it needs to be what she wants to do for it to be effective. She can build upper body strength, but she needs more help than being told to do something at home that she can't even do at the gym.
 

sce

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HC did tell her she needs to be doing press handstands at home, but DD cannot do them and so gets very frustrated with herself.
Sometimes I don't know if it's worth tears to make her workout at home when she is already in the gym 16h/week.
This is hard. That is a lot of gym time. But sometimes extra conditioning at home can make a difference. Press handstands take a lot of practice. Even making it part way is a good step - without jumping just pressing. Does she try them against the wall? This can help when they can't do them yet.

Though I don't see how that is going to help arm strength (shoulder some yes, but it involves back and abs a lot too.) Push ups, pull-ups and handstand push-ups will build arm strength. (handstand push-ups are also done against the wall.)
 
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2girls_gymmomma

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Similar struggle here! My older girl is incredibly flexible, but strength is a challenge. We keep trying to increase her protein intake and encourage her to do the press handstands. Patience with this is not easy, but as the season progresses, she has done well. We will see for this year as well!
 

lovemygymnast

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Genes, definitely!! My dd had muscle definition as a toddler. She's just strong! Her brother had a 6 pack too!! He wasn't doing anything major to maintain that as a 5 year old until now age 11! So, while all the conditioning helps to make everyone stronger, some develop more muscle depending on genetics & metabolism. Which I guess is the same for my dd not being as flexible as some of her teammates. She has her splits but not over splits like some teammates. A very experienced coach once told me that there are strong gymnasts and there are flexible gymnasts but it's rare to get both.
 
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Gymettemom

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Genes, definitely!! My dd had muscle definition as a toddler. She's just strong! Her brother had a 6 pack too!! He wasn't doing anything major to maintain that as a 5 year old until now age 11! So, while all the conditioning helps to make everyone stronger, some develop more muscle depending on genetics & metabolism. Which I guess is the same for my dd not being as flexible as some of her teammates. She has her splits but not over splits like some teammates. A very experienced coach once told me that there are strong gymnasts and there are flexible gymnasts but it's rare to get both.
Well, DD is indeed very flexible. She has insane over splits and beautiful jumps. I guess we cant ask to have it all and have to work with what we've got.
It's just so hard to see her struggle.
 

Muddlethru

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There are certainly many attributes bestowed upon us at birth, genetic maximum potential or strenght is one of them. So while some kids are genetically stronger, a good diet, rest, proper coaching/training and strenght building can make a less strong athlete hit their maximum potential better than one with even the highest potential.

There is a thread here about ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs. It is a description of ones metabolic bodytype that has been used not only in analyzing your metabolism, but also for making the right training & dietary changes and dunno has categorized the strenghts of each bodytype in relation to gymnastics.
 

Muddlethru

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How can I find that thread ? Search endomorphs?
I am trying to search it right now. Dunno has posted a lot of random information on these bodytypes but there is one particular thread that he really goes into which bodytype excels in which apparatus. I think it is good to know what we have to work with, our limitations and also how to capitalize on our strengths. I'll keep searching but you can certainly search as well. I am searching all dunno's posts with the words, ectomorph, endomorph and meso
 

Muddlethru

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Here's a little something from dunno I copied and pasted.

Ectomorph - thin, linear appearance- great bar workers-not as strong/power as the 2 below. great flexibility.
Endomorph - big bones, round face, large trunk and thighs-great all-arounders-good strength and power-less flexibility than ectomorph.
Mesomorph - broad shoulders, narrow waist, naturally large muscles and fast metabolism-great tumblers and vaulters. awesome power & strength. even less flexibility.

and keep in mind that all things being equal, either fast or slow muscle twitch can affect the physical performance outcome within all 3 groups.:) and for gymnasts the code of points finds the athletes excelling in all 3 groups due to the wide variety of skills that can be performed that have equal difficulty values. but as i've posted before, the ability to do certain skills because of the body type is where the elite/olympic level will find certain skills absent in some and present in others and overall becomes more daunting and challenging at the same time.

ooops. i can't edit. lost track of my order. another case of my fingers moving faster than my brain. change that to:

mesomorph- great all-arounders-good strength and power-less flexibility than ectomorph & more than endomorph.

endomorph- great tumblers and vaulters. awesome power & strength. even less flexibility than ecto's & meso's.

sorry about that. maybe 1 of the moderators can put these in there place above?:)
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
[/FONT]
 

lovemygymnast

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Well, DD is indeed very flexible. She has insane over splits and beautiful jumps. I guess we cant ask to have it all and have to work with what we've got.
It's just so hard to see her struggle.
I get what you mean! My dd doesn't typically struggle except on what your dd finds easy & does beautifully! Lol. Frustrating! She begs me to help her stretch daily. She's very dedicated to becoming more flexible but I doubt she's ever going to get much more!
 

lovemygymnast

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Here's a little something from dunno I copied and pasted.

Ectomorph - thin, linear appearance- great bar workers-not as strong/power as the 2 below. great flexibility.
Endomorph - big bones, round face, large trunk and thighs-great all-arounders-good strength and power-less flexibility than ectomorph.
Mesomorph - broad shoulders, narrow waist, naturally large muscles and fast metabolism-great tumblers and vaulters. awesome power & strength. even less flexibility.

and keep in mind that all things being equal, either fast or slow muscle twitch can affect the physical performance outcome within all 3 groups.:) and for gymnasts the code of points finds the athletes excelling in all 3 groups due to the wide variety of skills that can be performed that have equal difficulty values. but as i've posted before, the ability to do certain skills because of the body type is where the elite/olympic level will find certain skills absent in some and present in others and overall becomes more daunting and challenging at the same time.

ooops. i can't edit. lost track of my order. another case of my fingers moving faster than my brain. change that to:

mesomorph- great all-arounders-good strength and power-less flexibility than ectomorph & more than endomorph.

endomorph- great tumblers and vaulters. awesome power & strength. even less flexibility than ecto's & meso's.

sorry about that. maybe 1 of the moderators can put these in there place above?:)
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
[/FONT]
Okay, so I don't know where my dd would fall. By the description, I'd say ectomorph but she's not flexible, she is very linear though. Definitely not endomorph. But she's equally good at all events, floor probably is her lowest scored and I think it's flexibility and the fact she's so tiny, makes for smaller leaps,
 

gymjunkie

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Well, DD is indeed very flexible. She has insane over splits and beautiful jumps. I guess we cant ask to have it all and have to work with what we've got.
It's just so hard to see her struggle.
She should be able to do well in bars then. Bars is not as much about strength as it is about timing shaping and swing. The really strong girls who try to muscle their way through a bar routine are the actually the ones who struggle on bars.
 
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