5 Fundamental Truths About Building a Gymnastics Strength Program

Ever since I wrote a portion of strength section in the Instructor Training Program (ITP) for the Gymnastics Association of Texas (GAT) I have been asked the simple question, “what do you do for compulsory strength programs?” Nothing wrong with my original work, it just was not specifically written for nor does it contain much in the way of helping with the beginner or “compulsory” athlete. Now my work was specific to the Men’s program, however in answering the question at hand, you could actually use the same methodology I share here, maybe even some of the exercises, for the Women’s compulsory athletes too.
gatstrength4Many times our compulsory coaches don’t have the longevity in the coaching field that some of us may. So as they are growing and refining their coaching skills it is easy to get caught up in what I am many others have defined as the “compulsory Olympic program”. This program isn’t unique, it is common among younger coaches that take compulsory coaching to an entirely new level of training, expectation of athlete and of course coaching ego. I want to encourage those coaches to not only read, but to apply what I am outlining here as a solid fundamental methodology to producing very well rounded, very strong and confident young athletes. I know a few of you are not going to be able to help yourselves and I will get emails and or direct messages about how you have taken this information and tweeked it so that you are now getting X and your compulsory Olympians are now able to do Y and in record time… That’s cool, but hopefully you will take some of my advice here and not totally kill your athletes with an overload in your amped up strength program.
With all of that said, what makes a great Strength program for your compulsory athletes? Tough question, right? The answer lies with what is the vision for your entire program… ie. what end result are you trying to reach at the end of your athletes journey with you? Let’s face it, we are all “developmental” coaches, some of us have had upper level Elite athletes, but for the most part we are in the trenches developing raw talent into art and performance in the sport. Most of us have or oversee a decent size compulsory program and this question is hard because it truly is a balancing act of keeping gym fun and getting results. I am I right?strength9
The “business” side dictates we maintain a specific number in our compulsory groups so we can continually feed the top end and keep our coaching staff in place. Due to this, it is completely necessary that you pay attention to the methodology used here so that you can keep that “balance” between fun and results in check so you retain athletes and continue to grow your boys program.
Here are the 5 Fundamental Truths about Building a Gymnastic Strength Program –
  • Keep it simple, make it fun!
  • It must keep them moving without ridiculous numbers or number of sets
  • Stick to “mass” movements, don’t worry about isolating areas with compulsory athletes
  • It must complement specific skills in the JO compulsory routines
  • You absolutely must be resolved to the fact that most are not truly going to do all of the exercises correct or complete all of the assigned numbers. These are compulsory athletes, take the time to teach them, not crush them!
Most Importantly – You must design it so that the majority of the entire group at a given level can actually complete the assignment in the given amount of strength time.
You can have and have designed the greatest, most badass strength program ever known to gymnastics, but if the athlete can not finish 90-95% in a given strength training segment of practice, your program is worthless! It only works if they can do the work… Agreed?
Be on the look out for Part 2 “Putting the Exercises into the Program”, where I will give two complete sample strength programs specifically designed for this quadrennium’s compulsory routines.
I am Bryan Kiser, I live BOLD using my expertise and experience to help as many people as I can to be better now than they were a minute ago and even better tomorrow than they are today. I hear the surf is up, I grabbin’ a board and paddling out… later!

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