Sometimes, I don’t think it’s entirely realistic to think that I might be able to work on gymnastics and gain more skills as an adult. Especially without having a childhood background in gymnastics or really any sport at all. It seems like I might have gotten as far as I’m going to get, so what’s the point of trying to gain more? With my body-weight strength where it is, not being able to do a set of 5 chin over the bar pull ups, or a single chest to bar pull up, it doesn’t make as much sense to work on those higher level gymnastic skills, like muscle ups. Right? I’m not strong enough so why bother?
And then I consider that it took me over 11 months of focused, extra-curricular effort to get my first pull up. Months more effort until I could hit 5. And even though I’m down to 3 (4 on a good day) at the moment, that’s in part because of focused effort on other areas (namely, the Spartan Race). I got stronger so I could do Spartan monkey bars, and wasn’t as focused on pulling.
If I want to do a muscle up, then I need to put focus on that goal. And I need to work on my strength in specific ways, over a long period of time. That’s how things work for me.
One of the accessory skills we worked on in the muscle up course was strict toes to bar. I cannot do that movement. I can do a toes to bar, even string 5 or 6 together – as long as I can kip. But without a kip, I can barely lift straight legs higher than my waist.
With that in mind, as well as the fact that the hollow and arch are foundational movements for gymnastics, led me to choose a slightly different strategy for strength than what I’ve done before. I’m not ready, right now, to commit to a longer strength workout like I did for pull ups. I might do that in the future, but I’m going to start with something a little simpler. Start with three to four days a week, doing two tabatas. Less than 10 minutes. One focuses on the arch and the hollow, the other on hip flexors with seated leg lifts.
I was actually planning on doing it every day, but then I discovered how very sore the movements made me. It’s not super complicated, okay, maybe it’s a little complicated, but it’s straightforward. I do a hollow hold, then an arch hold, then flutter kicks while in hollow, then swimmers while in arch and repeat for the first one, then playing around with seated leg lift variations, alternating between legs together and legs apart. My abs were feeling it after two days in a row, so I scaled it back – to start.
The best part is, if this really helps me increase strength, I’ll see it in more than just the gymnastics movements.