Gymnastics is a sport that requires athletes to be in top physical condition. To compete against her peers, a female gymnast must have muscle strength, agility, flexibility, coordination and balance. Not only must she train until she has her routines down by heart, a female gymnast's workout should include rigorous strength-training exercises aimed at strengthening her upper and lower body as well as her core.
Upper-Body Strength Training
Female gymnasts rely on their upper-body strength to perform a variety of skills, particularly on the balance beam and uneven bars. To develop upper body strength, gymnasts implement a strict strength-training regime that can include chinups, pushups, rope climbs and handstand pushups. In the weight room, female gymnasts develop their shoulders, biceps, triceps and chest muscles by lifting barbell or dumbbell weights and performing chest presses, military presses, biceps curls, and triceps kickbacks and extentions.
Lower-Body Strength Training
Developing strength in the lower body, such as the leg and gluteal muscles, allows a gymnast to explode with power during floor routines. Strength-training workouts that involve squats, wall sits, calf raises and lunges can help develop these muscles. Body weight can suffice as resistance for these exercises, but additional weight can be added as well. In addition, plyometric workouts such as running stairs and sprints can keep the lower body in condition.
Strong core muscles in the stomach and back are essential to a gymnast as they help her maintain balance and control throughout a performance. Core exercises performed by gymnasts include crunches, hanging leg lifts, candlesticks, levers, hollow holds and superman holds. Adding ankle weights creates an additional challenge. Most of these feats require the same muscles as those used during a typical gymnastic routine.
Muscle flexibility and agility are a necessary part of being a gymnast. Female gymnasts need to have a wide range of motion to perform their feats without injuring themselves through muscle strains or tears. For this reason, a thorough stretching routine is an essential part of a female gymnast's workout plan. She should regularly stretch major joint areas including the knees, ankles, back, hips, shoulders and wrists.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.