Do you dream of having the beyond-buff physique of a male gymnast? With a little training, the male gymnast body can be in your grasp.
If you’d like to flip through the air with reckless abandon, soar to new heights, or hold yourself up on a set of hanging rings with sheer force, determination, and a lot of muscle without looking like you’re working too hard, we’ve got you covered.
Find out more about how you can tailor your workout and dial in your diet to get strong and flexible and work towards a male gymnast body.
What Does a Male Gymnast Body Look Like?
First off, male gymnasts have physiques that combine strength, power, flexibility, and agility. Studies illustrate that male gymnasts are known for being shorter than most of the male population, standing at about 5’3 to 5’7 on average.
Most of this differential comes from shorter leg length.
Male gymnasts often carry a lot of power in their arms, legs, and core. Although they might be shorter in height, a male gymnast’s body is generally very balanced.
These athletes need a good equilibrium between upper body strength and lower body strength. This helps male gymnasts perform magnificent moves that capture crowds’ attention at sporting events.
Generally, along with being proportionate, male gymnasts are overall very healthy. In fact, scientifically, gymnastics may even have positive effects on bone accrual and improving bone health.
Are you a short king?
Why do most male gymnasts tend to be extraordinarily short? Gymnasts overall tend to sit below global height averages. Just think about the world’s most famous female gymnast Simone Biles. She stands at only 4’8.
Some older studies allege that gymnastics stunts your growth. However, these have been debunked. Most current research now says that shorter people are simply more inclined to choose gymnastics and pursue it at a higher level.
This study found that there was no significant compromise to a person’s adult height if they trained intensely in gymnastics in their youth. Rather, short gymnasts tend to have short parents and come by it naturally.
Most athletes who succeed in the sport have tended to be short, too, so shorter young people now disproportionately gravitate towards it versus taller people.
But the shorter height is not just an aesthetic choice. Male gymnasts’ lower height is highly functional when it comes to their sport.
Shorter people are more compact than taller people. When it comes to doing challenging moves like backflips in the air or springboarding off a trampoline to flip your body around, every move has to be timed perfectly.
Essentially, to execute tricks like flips, gymnasts need to be able to pull all their limbs in tight very quickly.
Firstly, in gymnastics, men perform in six categories professionally:
- Floor work
- Pommel horse
- Parallel bars
- Horizontal bar
Most of these moves are arm-dominant. Compare this to women’s gymnastics which include the balance beam. Women have more opportunities to jump and push off their legs compared to male gymnasts.
Because of this, men need to carry more strength in their upper bodies. this works in their favor genetically, considering men do have a higher center of mass than women.
However, it works against them for the viral center of gravity challenge on TikTok.
On the contrary, in the upper-body strength department, men gain an edge for having higher centers of gravity.
Gymnasts focus on strengthening the shoulders, the pectoral muscles, the arms, and the abs.
That being said, leg strength is important too! Think about how much power it takes to push, press, and drive out of the vault to explode into the air as a gymnast often doing multiple flips.
This is an indicator of impressive leg strength along with healthy joints.
Next, gymnasts need to have exceptionally flexible joints to be able to perform moves on the floor, the rings, balance beams, parallel bars and more.
They need optimal joint health to be able to bend and stretch in many directions to perform complicated sequences of movement. Better flexibility also helps prevent injuries when working at an increased range of motion.
Studies show that competitive male gymnasts face a fairly significant injury risk. This can be mitigated by incorporating flexibility training and joint mobility exercises into your workout routine.
How Can You Train Like a Male Gymnast?
To start, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. male gymnasts have gotten bigger overall than the athletes who performed in the sport in the 20th century.
Take the 2016 men’s Olympic team. If you put a picture of past men’s Olympic teams next to the team from 2016, you’ll notice that there’s a significant difference in size.
Many of these guys look like they could be gearing up for an MMA fight. But alas, they’re not here to destroy people in the ring but on the hanging rings.
Most of this change in body composition has come because the sport itself has changed. There’s a lot more focus on upper-body dominant moves, hanging and ring moves, and parallel bars.
Dedicated Olympic athletes have committed to navigating these changes by actually adapting their bodies.
Modern male gymnasts are increasingly training resistance exercises on top of their body weight workout routines.
Next up, gymnasts are known for having a remarkable ability to do a lot with a little. In terms of equipment, they’re not just hitting the weight bench.
To get fit for their sport, male gymnasts focus a lot on calisthenic workouts and exercises where they support their body weight.
Finally, although male gymnasts have noticeable muscle, many of them are extremely lean. Not only do they devote immense amounts of focused time to training, but they make sure to keep their diets clean.
A healthy diet rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats is essential, especially when gymnasts are gearing up for major events. Focus on balancing these macronutrients in your diet. although you don’t have to track your calories or macronutrients, it can be good to know a baseline amount of what you eat per day.
This way, if you’re losing or gaining too much weight for your liking, you can scale your calories up or down as needed. And if you’re feeling too lazy to work out or sluggish, getting up close and personal with what you’re putting into your body can help you make more informed decisions.
Understanding how to balance your diet will let you eat for maximum energy.
In conclusion, several elements make a man a great gymnast. Yes, some of them lean heavily towards genetics.
A shorter frame will give you more compactness. Therefore, if you’re doing things like somersaults or anything involving flipping or rotating in the air, pulling your limbs in tight will help you flip around more effectively. We know that shorter limbs have a shorter distance to go to be able to pull in and help you spin.
However, on top of just the genetic advantage that shorter people have, many gymnasts adapt their bodies for the sport. This is especially true in professional gymnastics.
Furthermore, competition expectations have changed in the 21st century. Male gymnasts are now more muscular than their counterparts were in the 20th century.
This is because competitive gymnastics prizes more upper-body dominant moves. Things like ring muscle-ups and parallel bar work are popular. Hanging moves that depend a lot on the arms and shoulders are now ranked more highly in the competition.
To keep up, gymnasts focus more on upper body training, coupled with incorporating strength exercises. Famous gymnasts like Jake Dalton work on moves like the overhead shoulder press or kettlebell workouts to get their shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms and grip strength strong enough to be fierce competitors.
So, if you want to train like a male gymnast, focus on combining calisthenics moves like muscle-ups, push-ups, planches, or handstands with heavy resistance training.
Nevertheless, make sure not to skip explosive power moves in your lower half too. Being able to spring up from the trampoline or balance beam and explode out of their lower bodies are just a few moves gymnasts excel at.
Methodically, plyometric squats, box jumps, jumping lunges, or any move that gives your legs a cardio burn while training your strength is a great way to mimic the type of training that male gymnasts would do to increase the height of their jumps and make them fly.
So, swing it up a notch. Flex offers an all-in-one workout platform to help you learn new exercises, visualize your fitness journey and keep all your PRs in one place.
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Jürimäe, J., Gruodyte-Raciene, R., & Baxter-Jones, A. D. G. (2018). Effects of Gymnastics Activities on Bone Accrual during Growth: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine, 17(2), 245–258.
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Sleeper, M. D., Kenyon, L. K., Elliott, J. M., & Cheng, M. S. (2016). MEASURING SPORT-SPECIFIC PHYSICAL ABILITIES IN MALE GYMNASTS: THE MEN’S GYMNASTICS FUNCTIONAL MEASUREMENT TOOL. International journal of sports physical therapy, 11(7), 1082–1100.
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