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Proper Gymnastics Progressions

As we prepare for our Beginner Gymnastics Seminar to start this weekend, we wanted to spend the week reviewing the proper gymnastics progression. In the realm of CrossFit, we define gymnastics as the ability to control your body in space. Therefore, when we talk about gymnastics, we mean anything from an air squat or pushup, to a ring muscle up.

Our vision at Industrial Athletics is to build better individuals. To do this, we must emphasize proper progress development for our members. Without proper progressions, you increase your chances of injury.

So, What is the Proper Progression?

A progression is a multi-step process that requires the completion of the current step before “progressing” to the next step. Skipping a step will either prevent, or limit, you from becoming better.

When we are talking about gymnastics, the progression is a three-step process: Mobility, Strict, Dynamic.

For example, let’s look at a pullup. First, you must develop the mobility in your shoulders, upper back, and lats to hang from a bar and move through a hollow and arch position (a standard kip). Next, you must develop the strength to move from straight arms to pulling your chin over the bar while keeping your body rigid. Finally, you can blend the standard kip and the strict pullup together into a kipping (dynamic) pullup.

Starting with Mobility

Mobility is the ability to move a joint through a full range of motion. When we have poor mobility in a joint, one of two things will happens. Either our body will compensate by forcing mobility in another joint, or injury will occur when forcing a joint into a new position. Therefore, it is senseless to progress toward something like a pullup until we have proper mobility.

As the gymnastics movement increases in complexity, so does the demand on mobility. For example, the mobility demands on an air squat are less than the mobility demands on a pistol squat. As such, as we progress in gymnastics, the progression of mobility, strict, dynamic repeats itself again and again.

Assessing mobility, and forming a plan to address restrictions, takes a trained eye. We recommend you find a good coach to look at your movement. Our desire to do the “cool” things in gymnastics will push us to try something new However, we have to keep in mind that long term progress requires focusing today on the proper progression.