Some gymnasts seem to be able to show up at gym and just excel from the beginning. That has not been my gymnasts. They have to put in extra work for the gains they make. Read my post here about why there are better things than first place. So here is my list of the best equipment to help your gymnast at home with limited space. If you have space for a more complete set up, check out my post here on favorite gymnastics equipment that comes in handy for our ADHD kiddo.
Build strength safely
There are a lot of recent changes in the sport towards ensuring safe practices for the developing bodies of young athletes. Resistance training with weights should be used with caution to avoid putting undue strain on developing joints. Use of strength training as a consequence is identified by safesport as an inappropriate practice. Coaches must balance the importance of building strength, within a physically, mentally, and emotionally safe environment.
For any additional strength exercises at home, ensure you are either following coach recommendations, or other up to date resources to ensure safety. Shift movement is a great resource for safe, up to date information.
Equipment to help your gymnast using body weight to build strength
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One of my favorite space saving strength tools for home has been this chin up bar. Besides the basic chin ups for arm strength, my girls use it for multiple leg lifting core strength moves too. V-ups have been a staple exercise for years. Both can help with the strength needed, particularly for bar exercises at all levels. From the basic chin up pullover needed for early levels, up to higher level skills, core and arm strength is vital.
The chin up bar can also be combined with this great yoga swing. It’s a great tool for creative flexibility and additional body weight conditioning. Read here about how we used in when Biggs needed to stay off of her feet to heal after an injury. The yoga swing is an excellent tool for both strength and flexibility. The multi level handles allow for lots of versatility.
Flexibility equipment to help your gymnast
Flexibility is something that does not come easily to either of my girls. And lacking instruction in the early years have added to the challenges for Biggs. Besides the yoga swing, this stretch strap has been an added tool. And these yoga blocks are great for things such as positioning splits with square hips when a full split cannot yet be achieved. They help support and position in a variety of stretches. They also double as a great object to target or lift over with other exercises.
Tools for active flexibility and why it’s different
Even after my gymnasts achieved their splits on the floor, they have both still struggled with achieving the expected split angle for skills such as leaps and jumps. Gymnasts that have experienced training practices that are no longer considered safe of forcing them painfully into their splits often also struggle with this. Splits on the floor use the resistance of the floor for passive flexibility. However, for leaps and jumps, muscles have to be engaged to acquire the desired position. This has required a lot of extra work for Biggs.
We love this resistance band to work on active flexibility. She loves the multiple loops that can be hooked between toes that prevent the band from constantly rolling out of position with movement. Consistently doing extra kicks, seated leg lifts over the yoga blocks, and even focusing on her split angle in a handstand with this band has made a huge difference.
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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.