There is always a lot of talk about the carry-over of gymnastics training to other strength sports.
The Bench Press is an important exercise for gymnasts. In interviews I heard a couple of gymnasts mention that benching is an integral part of their weight training workouts.
On Gymnastic Bodies, Wangtang also offers an observation he made while Yan Mingyong was training at his gym.
“I remember him saying that the bench press was very important and this was his reasoning. The bench press motion strengthens your front shoulders and your chest. These muscles are very important for keeping a hollow chest while holding a maltese or planche. This might explain why his front shoulder is abnormally large!”
Now you might wonder how much this little Chinese dude can possible bench press. According to Coach Christopher Sommer
“Mingyong is capable of a truly tremendous 130kg bench press at a bodyweight of 50kg.”
Charles Poliquin also has a similar story to tell.
“Many years ago I taught two Canadian national team gymnasts how to bench press. These young men each weighed about 175 pounds and had never performed the exercise before – seriously, they didn’t even know how to load the weights on the bar! Anyway, after just four workouts they both could bench 350 pounds. One of the reasons these gymnasts were so strong is that their sport-specific training is characterized by pauses.”
But because of the specifc demands of gymnastics skills, Sommer says that the carry over only goes one way.
“Regardless of how strong your bench may be, if the proper straight arm strength progressions have not been adhered to and meticulously followed, the super strong bench presser will be no closer to a planche than your average joe who struggles with bodyweight.”
It is indeed very vital for gymnasts to maintain or even improve their strength and flexibility through various exercises and routines.
Could Sommer’s bit be somewhat explained by the fact that something like a planche requires a completely different body positioning than the bench press? I mean in the way the bench press is usually done with a neutral spine and retracted shoulder blades without them moving, while planches are apparently done in the ‘hollow’ position and protracted shoulders.