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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 02-06-2009, 05:59 PM   #1
Jason Rambo
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Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

There are a lot of stories out there about gymnasts who've never picked up a barbell in their lives and then, one day, just for fun, they lift some ridiculous amount of weight. But you never seem to hear about the converse about powerlifters who, out of nowhere, decide that they'd like to do a difficult gymnastics move -- and by this I mean moves that require a lot of strength, not technically difficult moves -- and do it. In other words, gymnastic strength seems to give you barbell strength but barbell strength doesn't seem to give you gymnastic strength.

Why is this? Is it just a matter of the strength-to-bodyweight ratio? Or is it something else, something in the nature of gymnastic training?

It goes without saying, of course, that if my assumptions are wrong, and you can provide examples refuting them, please don't be shy about telling me.

Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:22 PM   #2
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Look at Olympic gymnasts. Now look at Olympic weightlifters. I can picture tons of situations in which gymnasts might feel the need to prove their manliness by lifting large weights. I can't picture many situations in which weightlifters would face similar questioning.

That doesn't mean weightlifters can't do, say, muscle-ups, just that the question rarely comes up.

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Old 02-06-2009, 08:23 PM   #3
Donald Lee
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Gymnastics utilizes a lot of the smaller stabilizer muscles. It requires a lot of kinesthetic awareness. It requires coordinated neuromuscular firing across the entire body, etc. Gymnastics is also hard on the joints with all the use of leverage to increase tension. It's hard to replicate all this with barbell training.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:32 PM   #4
Jason Lin
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Keep in mind that most versions of the story have the gymnast deadlifting. Perhaps if you have the same gymnast squat snatch, he is going to have as much success (or as little) as a weightlifter trying to do anything on rings.
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Old 02-06-2009, 11:01 PM   #5
Alex Bond
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Lin View Post
Keep in mind that most versions of the story have the gymnast deadlifting. Perhaps if you have the same gymnast squat snatch, he is going to have as much success (or as little) as a weightlifter trying to do anything on rings.
I believe this.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:28 AM   #6
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

A snatch is far more technical than something like bench press, weighted pullups, and deadlifting. Same with cleaning though they could probably figure out a crude jerk.

As far as popping their hips, most high level gymnasts will be very strong. More will be weak from the ground due to not going that low typically.

Most gymnasts would probably have problems with front or back squats and the mechanics. They are both more complex than DL and benching. As well, they would probably not used to the load. However, occasionally some gymnasts do partner squats where a partner piggybacks and they squat.

Still I would say a gymnast would have a better chance at a snatch ( somewhat similar to back extension roll to handstand ) than a PL at a handspring or kip. I think they would have to muscle a clean or snatch but the third pull would be more problematic than the first.

However, if we go back to PL, we don't really need to talk about snatches, cleans, and jerks as squatting is the most technical.
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:03 AM   #7
Daniel Gam
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

not entirely relevant, but competitive/elite gymnasts look a lot more normal and proportional than competitive olympic lifters or powerlifters.

gymnastics is about body control. lifting is about control of an external object. taken to the extreme, i'd think extreme body control has a lot more carry over into real life than lifting an extremely heavy weight.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:06 AM   #8
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Elite gymnasts can't really afford the hypertrophy in the legs that Olympic weighlifters get of a similar size, well unless they specialize in maybe just floor and vault or just are in power tumbling and skip out on the apparatus. Even then it would probably slow them down. The gals often get a lot of hypertrophy in the legs ( big legs [ common in college ]) but WAG lends itself to that with some body types. Many of these gals don't compete UB either. Ring specialists will obviously have more hypertrophy in their upper body than other MAG gymnasts.

Pound for pound, the olympic weightlifting gals are probably stronger than the gymnasts but of course not in the same areas as the gymnasts. Then again, I never have heard of any 70-90 pound female olympic weightlifters.

Last edited by Blair Robert Lowe : 02-07-2009 at 03:20 AM.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:27 AM   #9
David Meverden
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

Related anecdote:
Used to have a coworker who was a serious about bodybuilding. He was fairly strong, deadlifting 350 for sets, squatting 295 "*** to ankles" for sets. We were talking about strength and lifting one day and I mentioned a front lever. He had never heard of it, but gave it a shot on an overhead beam and got it, first try. It wasn't the prettiest, and he didn't hold it long, but it was a genuine front lever.

So, not exactly a power lifter, or weightlifter, but it's an example of someone doing non-gymnastic strength training (or more exactly, hypertrophy training ) who was able to nail a gymnastic strength move.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:35 AM   #10
George Noble
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Re: Why doesn't barbell strength translate into gymnastic strength?

What are some non technical things I can do on a straight bar and dip station? I'm a crappy powerlifter with a bit of barbell strength so I'll try your tricks.
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