The AGG revolution has started.
Coaches and parents have woken up. The doubters remain in denial, while strength training is spreading quicker than the Macarena.
The stigma surrounding gymnastics and weight training is alive and well. We are all humans, and common sense is not very common, so education is the key.
Attitude Sports understood long ago that there is a better way, as this was the sole reason for its creation. In an ever changing world, not taking risks is risky. Minorit is the revolution inside the revolution, and they have made a safe bet.
I am going to take care of their physical development, and here’s how I’m going about it:
Children need a moderate amount of stress on their skeleton to build bone density. Jumps are one part of it, weight lifting with perfect form is another. Doing too much can be a bad thing, but gymnastics without a base of strength is trouble guaranteed. The dose makes the poison, but such thing as a healthy, competitive gymnast can exist if treated with care.
Weight lifting is safe: I have only had two athletes hurt in 10 years of trainings, in both cases due to inadequate training equipment. Lesson learned, and next decade I’m lowering that track record from two to zero.
MAKE THE BASICS GREAT AGAIN
You’ve seen articles pop up in the news about this: Finnish kids are fatter and more sedentary than ever. The children from the 1970’s supposedly moved very well. While I wasn’t there to confirm this, it’s true that Millennials can’t even get into a deep squat position without falling.
With Minorit, I am not going to let that happen: Starting with learning how to pick up a weight off the floor with a flat back, to mastering lunges and hip hinge variations, good movement will be the only movement allowed. Sounds easy, but no one does it.
Below are a few videos from our first ever training session. While there are a dozen things to work on, long-term view prevails.
TRAINING LIKE IT’S 2017
AGG is a traditional sport, and there’s a lot of imitation. Surprisingly, tradition in gymnastics doesn’t include learning the basic movement skills. While experience is invaluable and what works should not be changed, there’s a place for improvement.
The Russian training model is great if you have 100000 gymnasts to choose from, but a science-based approach is more appropriate for the Finnish context. People saying “It has always been done this way” have done more damage throughout history than those embracing change.
A PLAN THAT WORKS FOR YOU
I run away from glorified textbooks that suggest a standardized plan for youth sports. They look good in PowerPoint presentations, but each gymnast is different and chronological age is not the same as biological.
Luckily, training in small groups will allow me to adjust load and intensity individually instead of having everyone doing the same.
Cookie-cutter approaches are a curse for the sport and should be a thing of the past. Money is always an issue, but investing in the best training is cheaper than the worst doctor.
MORE THAN GYMNASTICS
The benefits of having a positive early experience with strength training go far beyond gymnastics. Most coaches are failed athletes, and we all have an ego: I am selfishly proud of how Gloria Nova increased their jump height 20% in 5 months.
However, as I get older, I realize that the potential advantage of acquiring a taste for general exercise is bigger than medals. The competitive life of a gymnast lasts the blink of an eye, and you want to keep on working out after that.
When gymnastics ends, many girls can’t find joy in regular exercise, struggling with problems to manage their health because of lack of habit or no interest.
A UNIQUE CASE
You won’t find a lot of AGG teams doing strength training, especially not the right kind. Minorit is the exception: For the first time, a team is starting early enough (12-13 years old) to reap the full benefits of postural control, power development, and foundational movements.
Slow progress is a must, but we can’t just do pushups and planks and expect a gymnast’s body to handle thousands of jumps a week without stress fractures.
Regarding performance, strength won’t magically make a champion, but it will allow those that are good to express their skills better. We should think of A.G.G as a puzzle, where if one piece is not in place, you never get to enjoy the full picture that makes a good gymnast.
The strength piece is typically missing, but Minorit is about to glue it together.
Here are Vilina and Iris, who recently joined the squad:
If you would like to see stronger healthier gymnasts, please share this post so others may benefit.
Sergio Navadijo is a physical preparation expert and owner of Entrena. He has a university background in Sports Science and a proven track record of success with athletes over the last decade. He works with gymnasts of all levels that want to get stronger and stay away from injuries. Contact him to get help achieving your goals.