Swimmers, runners, basketball players, boxers, mixed martial arts fighters. There’s no doubt about it, athletes have some of the best bodies on the planet. But of all of the different athletes, there is one group that really stands out to me. There is one group that seems to be more ripped than just about any of the athletes in any other field (except for maybe bodybuilding itself). Which athletes do I think really stand out? Well if we’re talking muscular tone and definition, I’d have to say the Gymnasts!
It’s kind of hard to deny that answer isn’t it? Have you ever watched a professional gymnastics competition, or seen a shirtless gymnast? Their abs are usually ripped to shreds, and their muscles (namely their arms and shoulders) look swollen and hypertrophied as if they have been weight training for years. Sure many gymnasts incorporate some type of resistance program to their training, but the majority of the work they do, comes from hour after countless hour of tumbling onto crash pads, working parallel bars (men), uneven bars (women) and strength elements (like the rings).
Why do gymnasts look so lean in comparison to some (not all) of their athletic counterparts? Because they’re strong as hell, that’s why!
Strength is measured in different ways from sport to sport. How far can you throw a ball? How strong is your freestyle, keyhole pull? How much weight can you squat? But the gymnast’s level of physical strength is something that’s pretty hard to follow. I tried doing rings a few times and initially it feels damn near impossible to do. Of course that’s not true (I believe discipline and hard work play more of the issue), but if you walk up to even some of the best athletes and asked them to try a Iron Cross on the rings or asked them to try a flare on the horse, my guess is the 90% (maybe more) wouldn’t be able to do it. I wouldn’t blame them either, because it’s not easy to perform some of these feats of strength.
Gymnasts are living breathing testaments to the benefits of body weight training. They aren’t in the gym pumping thousands of pounds and plates. They’re not necessarily doing thousands of crunches or situps either. Their workout routines are heavily centered on explosive exercises that work core muscles. This is the reason for the ripped stomachs. The explosive strength maneuvers of the rings and the horse, account for the hypertrophy of the gymnast’s shoulders and arms.
I may not ever be able to do some of the things that the best gymnasts can do, but I think there are some great cross-training lessons that can be gleaned by watching gymnasts hard at work.
I think there are athletic groups that may be more noteworthy in other areas, though. As far as cardiovascular training goes, perhaps we can direct our attention to the swimmers the cyclists, the runners, or boxers. Maybe explosive power is exemplified by the football lineman or even a sumo wrestler. All sports (yes even sumo) can provide insights into human fitness.
But again, if we’re looking at ripped athletes, I going to take some lessons from the gymnastics crew. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
To your muscle building success…