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"I wanted to give up fruitless fitness pursuits and start training for real."
First, a disclaimer: I am 22 and was in decent shape before I joined Men’s Health seven months ago. But I was already entrenched in the mindless monotony of the weights room; a workout only counted if it featured bench pressing, biceps curls or – more probably – plenty of both.
Your coach: Scott Hann, South Essex Gymnastics Club
"Gymnastics not only requires core strength, flexibility and complete control of your body, but it also helps to develop self-discipline and focus. Michael’s conditioning was built around using his bodyweight to increase his mobility and strength. This built his confidence for moves such as muscle-ups and handstands."
I couldn’t touch my toes, though, and seeing some of my new colleagues hampered by mobility issues after a decade of desk-jockeying I wanted to give up fruitless fitness pursuits and start training for real.
I was in awe of the gymnasts at Rio 2016 – you could see how every muscle fibre was called upon to perform their complex movements. The chiseled abs and broad shoulders were a byproduct of their practice, not the reason for it.
I wanted to have this athletic purpose, and for that, there was only one place for me: South Essex Gymnastics Club, spearheaded by Scott Hann, and home to Team GB’s Max Whitlock and Brinn Bevan.
The coaches and I never once spoke about aesthetics. Every session was dedicated to being a better gymnast, growing stronger in a handstand or honing the muscle-up. My previous adherence to macros didn’t fly, either. I started to eat well to train well, rather than trying to look ‘cut’.
I ate whole foods and plenty of veg at every meal. Even breakfast. Don’t expect to be able to do an iron cross overnight – or even in 10 weeks’ time, mind. But by learning the fundamentals of gymnastics, you’ll rope in unrivaled core strength, become genuinely mobile and develop athletic power, speed and control that will pay dividends in all sports.
Here's my plan — enjoy the process of discovering just what your body is capable of. I have and will never look back.
Workout #1: Form With Function
45 Minutes | Back, Arms, Legs | Difficulty: Medium
Gymnastics taught Michael that packing on muscle doesn’t have to involve heavy metal. This high-intensity circuit builds stamina, strength and size. Perform each move in turn and don’t cheat the reps – you’re only shorting yourself
Workout #2: Midline Mastery
Total Time: 20 Minutes | Abs, Arms, Back | Difficulty: Medium
A solid core is the foundation of gymnastic ability. This circuit will challenge your abs through all planes of motion, for athleticism and definition to match. Leave the barbells to the bros and perform each move once in turn, repeating the circuit for three rounds total
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