Olympic Gymnasts: 8 Exercises You Can Do, Too

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Do you want to train like among the world's top athletes? If you used the spring and summer shutdowns to focus on fitness, you might feel ready for an intense workout. Why not train as an Olympic gymnast?

You don't have to invest in a set of parallel bars or perhaps a balance beam. The following moves will push you past previous limits. Listed here are eight Olympic gymnast exercises to add to your routine today. 

1. Good, Old-Fashioned Pull-Ups 

Before you can swing around the parallel bar like a spinning top, you first need to obtain yourself up there. Doing so requires considerable torso strength, but you don't need any weights to build it. 

The only requirement is really a pull-up bar – you can find inexpensive models that affix to standard doorways. Once you install yours, experiment with different variations on the classic move to sculpt your upper body without lifting just one dumbbell. If you can do a single-armed version, you win the gold. 


While you marvel at their sculpted muscles, Olympic gymnasts also need an impressive cardiovascular capacity to manage their feats. How will you get your heart pumping?

Good news – it's not necessary to spend hours on a treadmill. Why not try high-intensity interval training (HIIT)? Research shows that performing this workout style 3 times a week improves your cardiovascular fitness as effectively as hitting the elliptical for 60 minutes, five days weekly.

3. V-Ups 

Olympic gymnasts have impressive abdominal muscles – why not train your core as they do? If you are a yoga practitioner, no doubt you've done paripurna navasana, or boat pose. This exercise utilizes a similar technique, and holding it is one variation you can try. 

Additional techniques include bending your legs to make the move less stressful on your back. Those with severe distress can keep their feet on the ground, knees bent, and start by leaning their torso back slightly. 

As your core strength builds, you can try more advanced methods, such as incorporating a twist to operate your oblique muscles. You can also add weights into the mix –  hold a dumbbell at chest level or strap on some ankle bands. 

4. Scap Shrugs

Do you know those big, triangular-shaped bones in your upper back? Ideally, you should be able to get them to touch in the middle. However, if you sit hunched over a computer all day long, your response to this information might be, “Yeah, right.” 

Fortunately, you can increase your lumbar flexibility, improve your posture and ease pain, with one movement. To perform a scap shrug, stand tall – you might want to use a wall if you have poor posture. Then, pull your shoulder blades together as much as you can. Hold for a few seconds, and then release and repeat. 

5. Side Planks 

Your transverse abdominis muscles would be the deepest layer around your waist, plus they act like Mother Nature's girdle. However, to allow them to do their job, you need to train them.

One of the best methods is through a series of plank exercises. To perform a side variation, begin in the standard push-up position. Turn your body to the side, supporting yourself on your extended right arm and leg. You need to immediately feel your core engaging to keep your hips lifted off the floor. 

Eventually, you want to keep both legs straight or perhaps lift the top one in a starfish variation. However, to start, feel free to keep your bottom knee on the ground. As you advance, do so by spreading your feet slightly to help with balance, then eventually stacking your shoes along with each other as you get stronger. 

6. Single-Leg Balance Work 

Can you transition between natarajasana and vrikshasana without tumbling down? If you train like an Olympic gymnast, you'll end up the knack. In case your Sanskrit is rusty, the above means flowing from dancer pose to tree pose in yoga. 

Single-leg balance exercises are incredible for building calf and core strength. For those who have a neurological condition which makes balance a challenge, such movements can help you regain functionality when practiced safely. Be sure you have a wall or a sturdy, braced chair – you don't want it to slide – when you practice. You'll feel much more confident attempting the moves, and finally, you will improve. 

7. Spinal Flexion and Extension 

Are you one of roughly 65 million Americans suffering from chronic low-back pain? If so, performing moves that improve hip and hamstring flexibility, for example uttanasana, or standing forward bends, can alleviate your ache. 

Think of your hips as the grand junction of your body. There's a ton of meridians where your connective tissues can build adhesions, which make movement painful. If you are in reasonable shape, try giving a hardcore Ashtanga yoga class a try. Many of the moves, like backbends, require some gymnastic skills, and you'll leave feeling both well-exercised and delightfully stretchy. 

8. Deep Yoga Stretches 

Flexibility is really a critical component of Olympic training. In case your muscles and connective tissues are as hard as frozen rubber bands, one yank or twist within the wrong direction will lead to injury. 

Fortunately, you don't have to be in terrific shape to try yoga. Many chronic pain patients also find the practice works wonders on their behalf. If you are relatively new to the fitness scene, consider using a gentle yin yoga class after a challenging run or weight workout. Also known as restorative yoga, this style focuses on holding stretches for three to five minutes, and many professional athletes utilize it in their recovery. 

Try These 8 Exercises in your own home to Train Like an Olympic Gymnast 

If you want to train as an Olympic gymnast, the eight exercises above belong inside your fitness routine. Take your workouts to new heights and enjoy improved strength and flexibility. 

Author Byline: 

Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with a strong interest in fitness and nutrition. She's also the Editor in Chief at

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