Train Like an Olympic Gymnast

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It’s that time again! Across the world, home TVs are tuned into to the biggest competition, watching athletes leave it all out on the field, court or in the pool in the hopes of grabbing that gold medal for their country. The 2016 Olympics are just getting started and the Ochsner Fitness Center gymnastics team is ready to watch some healthy competition.

If you’re anything like me, you’re sitting on your couch watching this marvelous feat by these athletes thinking wow, they are in the greatest shape of their lives. Do you wonder what it’s like to train as an Olympic athlete, or wish you could? Well, now you can! Get a glimpse into how the Ochsner Fitness Center gymnastics team trains just as the National team does. Here’s the low down on their training, nutrition and more.

Training like a Gymnast

During the summer months, the team members and coaches are in the gym from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. That’s a six and a half hour day! We start with an endurance run and stretch, then work on bars, beam, floor tumbling, vault, plyometrics, flexibility and condition/strength training. It’s a long and intense day, but with the team members out of school, it’s when we can get the most out of them and prepare them for their upcoming competitive season.

Their endurance run is about 10 minutes long and is the same format that the National team members (the Olympians) use. Not only do we emphasize endurance, but artistry and presentation are important factors for gymnasts to master as well.

Conditioning includes an intense 45 minute set, plus small sets throughout the day. We also have a 45 minute stretch/flexibility set. We use therebands, mats and weights to help increase flexibility.

Managing Their Time

In the summer, the team works 32.5/hours a week and rests on Saturdays and Sundays. However, during the school year, they are in the gym 20-24 hours and are only off one week day and Sundays. School work is an important issue and the Ochsner Fitness Center gymnastic coaches allow the team to sometimes leave early on an individual basis. These girls are extremely disciplined and get their assignments done ahead of their groups.

The Greatest Challenge

When looking at all of the events gymnasts compete in, the general consensus of our team would say bars is the most difficult event. It is basically all arm strength with a lot of stomach strength and endurance. But, beam is probably the scariest!

Eating like a Gymnast

Nutrition and diet are extremely important. Coaches emphasize protein and natural high energy foods. Vitamins from vegetables are important. And water, water, water! They must stay hydrated!

Dealing with Injuries

Injuries are definitely the most frustrating part of the sport. During all this intense training, it’s important that we consult with physical therapists on specifics needs for maintenance and injury prevention. Full recovery is often slow and can be hard to deal with, but it is necessary to come back slowly so the injury does not recur.

Dreams of Being a Gymnast?

If you’re a young gymnast with dreams of competing nationally, here’s some advice from the team: work hard, have fun, be proud of your accomplishments and dream big!

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