I originally wrote this for my home gym website…but the information is relevant and worth sharing!
It happens almost every week…Thursday rolls around and some people get excited and others dread it. You would think that magically Thursday became another Monday in the week. That’s right, it is gymnastics centric training day. Why is this day important? Why even have it? Why can’t we all just lift heavy things every day?
The answer is simple…gymnastics is about mastery of skill!
The beauty of gymnastics is that it is a day to focus on the perfection of movement. It is about mastering the skills necessary to do anything and everything else. It is not about max reps or even max effort, it is about self mastery and being able to maintain a standard of movement. It is the “perfectionist” component of training.
Most people grumble at gymnastics because they are not good at it. Many others because it is not nearly as sexy as picking up a weight with a couple 0’s on the end of it. BUT gymnastics is a key component to being better at your lifts and with your life in general. It promotes body awareness and understanding where you are in space at all times.
It is about developing the skills that you need to be a better all-around athlete. CrossFit was originally built around a gymnastic mindset. Somewhere that mindset tried to remain, but the focus has moved to lifting and getting stronger. Again, though, you cannot be a great lifter without great body awareness. That does not mean that everyone needs to be able to perform the perfect ring routine or even walk on their hands, but you need to know what an activated shoulder feels like or what it means to have a solid squat with no or minimal load. You need to be able to be aware of why you are pitching forward or falling backward under load.
Gymnastics work at the gym is about gaining this awareness. It engages the Central Nervous System (CNS) so that you can get into better positions over time. So that even as your muscles grow stronger, you are becoming a better lifter and your maxes continue to rise.
The other reason that we do them. They help to promote recovery and developing a better range of motion. This is critical as we all get older. No matter how much we do not want to admit it, there is a need to be able to move fluidly as we grow. Gymnastics promotes this ability.
So the short answer about why you need gymnastics and why we devote a day a week to them is that it helps to develop a mindset for your training, helps you with your lifting and forces you to take a little break from the barbell and still grow!