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ConditioningStrength Training Fundamentals in GymnasticsConditioningJames J. MajorMotor Behavior LaboratoryDept. of Exercise and Sports ScienceUniversity of UtahSalt Lake City, UtahOften coaches must be a jack-of-all-trades, but masters of one. Gymnastics coaches areresponsible for not only skill training, routine composition, safety, education, and mentalhealth of their gymnasts, but also their conditioning. To help the coach with conditioning,there is a plethora of advice and equipment. However gymnastics coaches need fundamentalinformation to evaluate these products and suggestions; and yes, even see through thegrantsmanship of the sport scientists. Understanding basic principles, coaches can siftthrough the advice and choose the best conditioning for their gymnasts.To help coaches towards understanding basic principles of strength training, the U.S. EliteCoaches Association for Women's Gymnastics (USECA–W) has had translated an excellentarticle on strength training fundamentals (Bührle and Werner, 1984). The translation of"The Muscle Hypertrophy Training of the Body Builder" (Bührle and Werner, 1984) isavailable from the USECA.I want to explain how these fundamentals should be applied in gymnastics. Four basicprinciples that will help coaches to evaluate strength training are:zConsistent, special strength training is necessary for maximum performance ingymnastics;zTraining to increase muscle size and strength is important, but maximum strengthfrom minimum size is the most important training goal;zRest and recuperation are important aspects of strength training, also in gymnastics;zStrength training must be integrated with the skill training in gymnastics.Consistent, special strength training is necessary for the best possibleperformance in gymnastics.One of the most important insights of modern training is that a highly developed level ofstrength cannot be maintained even by intensive performance of the event itself (Bührle andWerner, 1984). This insight has proven to be true in such very different events asswimming, cross-country skiing, and gymnastics. Gymnastics alone will not develop noreven maintain an adequate level of strength for advanced gymnastics (Oppel, 1967). Specialconditioning must be performed, besides countless elements, combinations, parts, and fullroutines. Inconsistent strength training can explain the decline in performance, or at leastthe stagnation, of a number of athletes who had promising performances during thepreparatory season. Once those athletes started to compete, their results did not live up tothese expectations (Bührle and Werner, 1984). Gymnastics specialists have warned againstdecreasing strength training during the competition season (Borrmann, 1978: Hartig andBuchmann, 1988; Plotkin, Rubin and Arkaev, 1983; Ukran, 1969).

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