It feels like an age since any of us last set foot in the gym, but the good news (all being well when the government reviews the roadmap) is that adults can now return to individual training/open sessions, with group sessions hopefully allowed to commence from 17th May. So, if you’ve not been particularly motivated, haven’t done much training at home over these past months, it’s probably a good time to start getting yourself ready to return to the gym.
A highlight for me recently was the opportunity to participate in a virtual competition where I had to perform an adapted floor routine. The competition was very well set up, accommodating people’s living space requirements e.g. if you need to take extra steps in between to ensure safety, that was fine. I chose to include some of the upgrades I’d been working towards, such as my horizontal spin, switch leap and split jump half. Whilst there were definitely things to work on, I was really pleased I did these in a competition, and I ended up winning a silver medal! Thanks Victoria for organising this.
I’ve spoken to a few coaches to get their top tips for this blog. A huge thanks to Jessica Hill, Becky Howe and Victoria Mitchell for all of their input!
Preparing yourself to return to training:
The coaches all stressed the importance of stretching and conditioning, to regain strength and flexibility, especially if you have been unable to do much exercise at home. Building back strength will help prevent injuries (and let’s face it we don’t want to be side-lined again) and help our body get back into the swing of things. The suggestions below are definitely things you can start work on before returning back to the gym, even if you have limited space and equipment. Working on things like lunges and working towards splits is important, likewise stretching out your back and working on bridges will help too. It’s also worth working on other shaping skills such as dishes and arches which not only are good for core but will also help with your skills. Coaches also suggested conditioning sets such as tricep dips (a stable chair can be used for this), press-ups, burpees, and front support conditioning.
One of the things I’ve also been doing in preparation for my return to training has been visualisation techniques. This has been to help me picture doing the skills I’ve been doing on the floor, and visualise them on the apparatus back in the gym, such as on the high beam or remembering how it feels to vault. I definitely recommend trying this as it will help shake off the cobwebs when you’re back in the gym and help to work through those mental blocks – something I’m sure is playing on a few people’s minds right now.
When you get back in the gym:
“I'd just say to take it easy and let your body get use to returning slowly. Your skills will be in your muscle memory and will come flying back. If you put too much pressure on your body too early there’s a higher chance of injury” (Victoria).
“I think the most import a think I'll be telling all my gymnasts and especially adults is 'Take. Your. Time'. set easy goals and don't expect to be where you were within a matter of weeks, set realistic timelines. Talk to your coaches and we can help set realistic goals and tasks to achieve them, that's what we're there for (but please remember this is new to us too!) gymnasts would never normally have this many interruptions to training. Our body and mind have been under unprecedented stress over the last 12 months, be kind to yourself!” (Becky)
Below are a few key points that Jessica has kindly put together to help for your first couple of weeks back into training:
- Warm up for longer – The first few sessions should be spent doing a longer warm up of the muscles and a good stretch.
- Do not attempt big skills – Keep to basics and do lots of repetitions for the first few weeks/month
- Incorporate conditioning on to each apparatus – This will help build up your muscles for more advanced skill work once you are feeling stronger
- Prep, prep, prep – Start off with low impact preparation stations on each piece you do within the session. This will reduce the stress on the body and better prepare yourself for the next few months
- Allocate time for decent warm down – It is vital that you warm down your muscles efficiently as you will be extremely stiff the next few days after your first few sessions back
For those that are newer to the sport and unsure of where to start, I would advise talking to the coaches available around you. They will be able to give you some basics that you can do on the apparatus and potential stations to set up. I would recommend doing lots of repetitions and keep to these basics before you move on to learning new skills, regardless of your ability.
Everyone’s opinion on what ‘basics’ are will vary based on your ability, therefore you need to go with what you are comfortable with. Every level should start with a lot of strength and conditioning first before attempting skills and those who are more advanced should go to their most basic skills first with the strength and conditioning before moving on.
Below is a helpful return to training plan, which I’m sure many will find helpful.
|Warm up||Apparatus (pick two/ three pieces within one session)||Cool down / conditioning|
5 minutes - cardio
15 minutes - stretch
5 minutes - basic in lines on floor
|Bars - Shaping stations, basic skills based on your ability, small conditioning circuits
Beam – Walking, jumps, holds etc. basic skills if confident
Vault – Stations of jumps, landings, preparations towards skills, power conditioning
Parallel bars – Stations of holds, swings, weight transfer and conditioning
10 minutes - Circuit which includes some basic conditioning as well as some flexibility stations.
Either within the session or at home an additional stretch and if you can foam roll your muscles it is advisable
I hope this has been useful for everyone and remember to check out the adult gymnastics Facebook page as there’s plenty of advice on there too.