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Dumbbells or Machines? Istvan Javorek
April 5, 2018
The benefits of dumbbell training by Istvan JavorekDumbbell training is generally safe.Does not need a large practice area.Is easy to teach (compared to barbell lifts).Can be done simultaneously and very efficiently with a large number of athletes.Is dynamic with a large range of motion (actually the range of motion is unlimited).A large range of

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Getting gymnasts fitter, faster and stronger

Old man demonstrates hand stand

gymnast fitnessA handstand on press up bars results in an inverted extended posture (2 of the 3 uncommon postures) and is an exercise I use with a lot of athletes.

I never thought I would be in a position (inverted or not) to have to demonstrate this to people who do it for a living.

Weston Aerobic Gymnastics Club is a great gymnastics club with a track record of developing young people into successful performers. Two of its coaches, Debbie and Nigel Saunders, have done workshops with me previously on speed, power and injury prevention. They invited me up to work with their competitive gymnasts last weekend.

Gymnasts as athletes

gymnastics postureI spent some time at the beginning explaining the importance of posture.

Whilst the type of gymnastics done at Weston encourages good posture, the kids are products of modern society: slumping, texting and poor school furniture means that incorrect posture has to be corrected first.

(see picture to right and note one legged standing, similar to that of fencers!)

I then got the gymnasts to assess each other on the Excelsior 5 exercise screening plan. This got them to think further and learn more about their own bodies.

Two legged squats and press ups were very good, single leg work and strangely dynamic balance needed more work.

Introducing Dumbbell Exercises

gymnast flexibiityWe then spent some time going over dumbbell exercises with the whole group. The little munchkins had 1kg dumbbells, the older athletes had enough weight to provide resistance but without limiting their ability to move through the whole range of motion.

Dumbbells are great pieces of kit for developing athletes, and teaching children to use them early and well helps prevent problems in the future (See Istvan Javorek’s thoughts here).

Jumping for Joy

Having established the right foundations of posture, stability, balance and strength, we moved into jumping progressions.

The sprung floor was a delight to do this on, compared to the ultra hard surfaces I usually encounter.

As usual, co- ordination, rhythm and timing were the most challenging aspects of the jump progressions and bounding work I was doing. I gave a series of progressions, but kept emphasising the need for each stage to be worked on before moving to the next.

The workshop went fast, and I just had time to show an isometric squat progression (picture above) that I got from Tom Kurz to help develop flexibility and strength simultaneously.


The atmosphere, work ethic and enthusiasm of the club is tangible. The coaches have created a great environment, it was easy for me to go in and hopefully add some value to their programme.

Working with gymnasts is rewarding, and a reminder to me how important is to incorporate gymnastics into our warm ups

Thanks to all the coaches, helpers and gymnasts involved.

I have since introduced this work into our gymnastics in Wellington and Willand


  1. […] are powerful (high force, low velocity) as are gymnasts (low force, high velocity). Most sports people fall somewhere in between these extremes, or use […]

  2. […] Gymnastics: SW Gymnastics, Gemini, Weston Aerobics Gymnastics Club “Getting gymnasts faster, fitter and stronger“ […]

  3. […] is a very powerful sport needing an incredible amount of strength and power in order to perform routines on the floor or on […]

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