Where To Place Your Strength Training During Practice…
This is a response to Lee’s second question…
Do you think conditioning should be done at the end/beginning of practice or included within the apparatus stations? I have made my gymnasts condition at the beginning (they are lower levels) as they seem to build more strength this way, though I should have tested this theory to confirm. I see conditioning as more important than most of the skills they are learning currently, and often include extra shape/handstand work in their stations.
My reply to Lee are the two most frustrating words – “it depends.”
Here is my opinion…I would put the strength/conditioning at the beginning of the workout during the off-season as you should be focused on building strength in order to both enhance and enable skill development. To maximize strength development, it’s important for the gymnasts to not be fatigued.
During the season, I would put it at the end of practice. By this time, your training emphasis will have shifted more to technical preparation and trying to make the routines as good as possible for competition. By this time, your strength should be there and it’s the time to mostly maintain and depending on how you vary your volume/intensity, you might be able to increase strength a little. In my opinion, the goal should be maintaining adequate strength and doing “pre-hab”/corrective exercises to prevent injury.
In terms of putting it in during an event – I still like having dedicated time. I think that it allows for more focus and improved quality. Plus, I feel that it is important to use event time for event training. If you have no other alternative due to things beyond your control within your gym, then you have to do what you have to do.
If you are training elite athletes, this approach is going to be different because there is no real off-season in elite gymnastics. This is where block periodization becomes critical and is necessary to maintain the physical qualities of the gymnast. I will elaborate more on my thoughts relative to this in a future post!