One of the outstanding teachers I have had once said “if you want to look like an athlete, train like an athlete! If you want to look like a dancer, train like a dancer!”
I have always admired the physiques and abilities of olympic gymnasts. While I am not built for extraordinary gymnastic feasts with my long slender limbs – I just don`t have favorable levers – I have incorporated basic gymnastic strength exercises into my training regimen for years.
One of the key focus of gymnastic exercises is that they are developing strength throughout your body. In contrast to typical gym exercises that put you in a position and posture where a muscle or muscle group is contracting against resistance (for instance, in the lat pull or cable fly), a gymnastic exercise requires full body tension (contraction all along kinetic chains) from start to finish. And this is the very reason why they are so effective and taxing.
Among my favorite gymnastic exercises is the Bar Leg Raise or Leg Raise to L-Sit, which is an excellent exercise to develop overall strength as well as a rock-hard core. In order to do the Bar Leg Raise, get into the starting position of a Bar Dip, but bring your straight – locked out legs forward and point your toes. Assuming this position already requires you to contract every muscle in your body from the neck to the toe. Now, bring your straight legs up in front of you until they are parallel to the ground, hold for a second or so and then slowly return to the starting position. This was one repetition. Do as many as you like and do as many sets as you want. Diminishing motivation for another set and more reps is probably a sign of having done enough.
No worries, you will be able to do more the next time. Enjoy!