How to Do More Gymnastic Moves and Be More Flexible

By T. Marice Huggins

Gymnastics is a physical activity that requires participants to channel agility, flexibility, balance and stamina while completing various tricks on a gym mat, pommel horse, balance beam, vault and uneven bars. While it seems like gymnasts where born with the innate ability to twist their bodies in intricate positions and wow a crowd with complicated tricks, they had to dedicate a lot of time to perfecting their athletic skills. With enough focus and dedication, you can also do many gymnastic moves and increase flexibility.

Step 1

Learn basic fundamentals. The average adult with no experience most likely won't be able to do complex gymnastics moves such as back flips and forward flips right away. Therefore, it is advised that you spend a considerable amount of time working on basic skills, such as headstands, backbends, and cartwheels, which prove to be the fundamentals of several more advanced gymnastic moves. When attempting fundamentals for the first time, it is important to do them on a gym mat to avoid injuries. It is also advised that you seek a spotter to assist in keeping watch of your movements in case you need assistance.

Step 2

Do stretches. Having a wide range of muscle movement is essential for executing various gymnastics moves. Stretching lengthens tendons and muscle fibers that make certain fitness activities easier. Therefore, doing stretches daily is suggested to increase the amount of gymnastic moves you can do. However, it is important to rotate stretches to prevent straining muscles. Static stretches put mild tension on muscles by holding a specific stretch, such as holding a split for 30 to 60 seconds. Dynamic stretches involve movement -- pushing muscles during stretches to the point of tension, repeatedly.

Before doing stretches it's important to warm up muscles by doing light aerobics, such as jumping jacks. Performing stretches such as straddles help stretch the hamstrings and lower back, which are necessary for gymnastics moves such as splits and front flips. To do straddles, sit on the floor with your legs straight and extend each leg directly to the side of you. Then lower your chest as close to ground as possible and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel tension in your lower back and inner thighs.

Step 3

Practice. Combine the stretches and basic fundamentals to increase your skill level. Continuous practice of basic moves can better prepare you for building a regimen of more advanced gymnastics moves. Developing a set schedule dictating exactly what fundamentals and what stretches to practice can help you stay focused and keep you from overworking your body. You should work out three to five days a week for at least 30 minutes, making sure to alternate workouts to avoid injuries.

Step 4

Do a somersault. Now that you've practiced the fundamentals of gymnastics and stretched out your muscles, you may be ready to increase the amount of moves you can do. Somersaults are one of the first moves people learn when doing gymnastics. They stretch your back muscles and help improve your stability. To do a somersault, begin in a squat position. Then place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. Bend your head down, making your chin touch your neck and continue moving forward so your head touches the ground. Propel forward using the momentum with your back rounded until you return to an upward position. Somersaults can be practiced several times for ten minutes without causing undue stress to the back.

Step 5

Do cartwheels. Cartwheels are a rotary move which involves lunges and handstands.They assist in improving vertical alignment, balance and flexibility of the hamstrings. Start in a lunge with your favorite foot in front and hands extended over your head. Then transfer your weight to the front leg by tilting in its direction. Kick the back leg up to propel yourself sideways. Place your hands on the ground one at a time as your feet come up over your head in the form of a "V" shape and then come down one at a time.


About the Author

T. Marice Huggins has been published several times in both the New York and New Jersey editions of "Contemporary Bride Magazine." She has also been published in national publications such as "Redbook," Dance Magazine" and "Caribbean Travel and Life." Thanks to extensive dance training in college, she is very well-versed in the areas of health and fitness.

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