GBAT – Physical Fitness

Tumbling is one of the most physically demanding athletic pursuits that a human can perform. Unfortunately, too many of the athletes that choose to pursue tumbling skills do not treat it as such. If your body is unable to physically perform a particular tumbling skill, it does not matter how much work you put in, you will be physically unable to perform your desired skill. Many of the people that I have worked with over the years come in out of shape and unwilling to commit to the athleticism of our sport. If you cannot become more athletic, you will find your skills limited at some point. This has nothing to do with weight or body image, as is popularly reported in the media, it is simple physics. If you are not strong enough to perform a skill, it will not happen. If you are not flexible enough to withstand injury, you will get injured. This is a sport. Treat it like one.

The CDC has a definition which is of value in defining Physical Fitness: The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies. Physical fitness includes a number of components consisting of cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic power), skeletal muscle endurance, skeletal muscle strength, skeletal muscle power, flexibility, balance, speed of movement, reaction time, and body composition.
In the next sections we will discuss the components of Physical Fitness.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

A quick search of Wikipedia shows us the following:
“Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during sustained physical activity. Regular exercise makes these systems more efficient by enlarging the heart muscle, enabling more blood to be pumped with each stroke, and increasing the number of small arteries in trained skeletal muscles, which supply more blood to working muscles. Exercise improves the respiratory system by increasing the amount of oxygen that is inhaled and distributed to body tissue.  Cardiorespiratory fitness is also sometimes referred to as Aerobic fitness.  There are many benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other diseases. Cardiorespiratory fitness helps improve lung and heart condition, and increases feelings of wellbeing.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise 3-5 times per week for 20–60 minutes per session, at an intensity that maintains the heart rate between 65-90% of the maximum heart rate.”

For long term health, cardiorespiratory fitness is very important. For the purposes of tumbling, cardio fitness allows athletes to work hard during the extended practices and workouts necessary to Get Better At Tumbling.

Muscle Endurance, Strength, Power

There are a variety of opinions on strength training for young athletes. In my opinion, if you are going to Get Better At Tumbling, you need to be athletic. If you are going to be an athlete, you need to be strong. The best way to get stronger prior to puberty is body weight exercises. When you are done growing, you can get into weightlifting. The most basic set of bodyweight exercises that we use are the following:

  • Sit-ups – The most basic level of abdominal fitness. I like to see athletes be able to do at least 125 crunches in one set.
  • Push-Ups – 25 push-ups. If you cannot do good push-ups, start with negative only push-ups (starting at a good tight push-up position, and lower to the ground with a count of 5).

There are a lot of things we can do to improve physical strength, and a lot of different opinions. Do some research, and get stronger so that you can Get Better At Tumbling. Here a few places to start:

Next time we will continue examining the physical aspects of Getting Better At Tumbling:

• flexibility
• balance
• speed of movement
• reaction time
• body composition