A gymnastics bar at home is a fantastic way for any aspiring gymnast to train when not at the gym. But practicing the wrong things can be worse than not practicing at all!
In this article, I outline 6 things that every gymnast should practice on their gymnastics bar at home.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- How can I practice bars at home?
- Bar conditioning for gymnastics at home
Disclaimer: Gymnastics carries an inherent level of risk. Information contained in this article does not replace the need for professional coaching in a recognized gymnastics facility.
How can I practice bars at home?
Most home gymnastics bars will be smaller and lower than those found in a professional gymnastics facility so there are limits to consider when planning what to practice.
Swinging and more advanced dismounts need a lot of height and space so they will be problematic to practice at home.
Home gymnastics bars tend to be single bars so releasing from one bar to another like Uneven Bars is impossible unless you have something like the Tumbl Trak 5-in-1 Gymnastics Bar (pictured).
Gymnasts should instead concentrate on mastering basic skills and basic shapes at home and use their bar as part of a conditioning routine. This will improve their strength and better prepare them for learning more advanced skills when they are in a real training session.
Safety is also important and practicing less difficult skills reduces the chances of accidents and injuries.
What are the basic shapes used on gymnastics bars?
The basic hanging shapes on gymnastics bars are Tuck, Pike, Straddle, Straight, Arch and Dish. All should be performed with straight arms.
Beginner gymnasts should make plenty of time to master these shapes by improving their form and holding them for increasing lengths of time. If you are unfamiliar with any of these shapes, read my article on the Basic Shapes in Gymnastics here.
A gymnast will also need to practice holding their support position on the bars. The support shape involves the gymnast holding themself above the bar and is a starting point for many other skills on bars.
Once you have mastered the shapes, try and hold them inverted (upside down) and link different shapes together to make a sequence.
Get creative and see how many you can link without touching the floor!
How can I practice Pullover?
To practice your pullover you will need the bar set at your head height. You can think of the pullover as a backward roll around the bar.
- Start with your hands on the bar and one foot placed behind the other on the mat.
- Bring your back leg forwards and up in front of the bar.
- At the same time your arms make a pull up action lifting your whole body up and towards the bar.
- As the legs go over the top of the bar, your body will become piked and your hips will rest on top of the bar.
- To complete the pullover, lift your chest and back and hold yourself up in a support position above the bar.
Things to remember when practicing a pullover:
- Avoid throwing your head back. Look for your feet instead.
- Keep your arms pulling up towards the bar. If you relax your arms you will fall down and away from the bar.
- Aim to keep the legs straight and toes pointed. It is tempting to bend and tuck the knees as it can become easier but it doesn’t look great and a competitive gymnast will get lower marks for poor form.
If you are finding it hard to master the pullover at home, work hard on pull-ups (arm strength) and v-ups (core strength). You can also try using a higher platform for your feet to start on.
One of my favorite drills for beginner gymnasts is to use a wall or block mat to walk the feet up before pulling over.
What is a Cast in gymnastics?
Cast in gymnastics is a way to create momentum from a support position and get into another skill on the bars.
- Start in support position with the bar accross your hips.
- Legs should be straight, head forwards and shoulders pressed down
- Bring your feet forwards into a pike shape
- Swing your legs backwards and up trying to get your legs as high as your hips (similar to front support shape)
Experienced gymnasts will Cast towards handstand but I wouldn’t recommend trying that at home. Instead, concentrate on keeping good form in your legs including them being straight and feet pointed.
What is a Forward Circle dismount?
A Forward Circle is essentially a forward roll over the bar and is used to dismount and land on the mat. It’s an ideal skill to practice at home as it doesn’t require too much space and helps improve confidence and body shape.
- Start in a support position with hips level with the bar
- Lean forwards to create a Piked body shape
- As you start to roll over the top of the bar, focus on keeping the legs straight
- Use your core muscles to slowly lower the legs to the ground, keeping them straight throughout
- Finish with the hands still gripping the bar, feet on the mat and the legs straight
Bar conditioning for gymnastics at home
Using a gymnastics bar at home for conditioning is ideal as the gymnast can do a wide range of exercises on arms, shoulders and core muscles. Resistance bands can also be used to create even more conditioning exercises.
How can I practise pull ups?
Most people will be familiar with pull-ups but there are multiple ways to include pull-ups in conditioning and increase your strength. As with all gymnastics conditioning, quality is better than quantity.
These are some of my favorites:
- Pull-Up Holds: From the floor, jump into the pull-up position and hold it for at least 5 seconds.
- Negative Pull-Ups: From the floor, jump into the pull-up position and slowly lower yourself back down. The slower the better.
- Ankle Weight Pull-Ups: Add extra weight if your pull-ups are getting too easy.
- Half-Way Pull-Ups: Stop half way down and then pull-up rather than going all the way down.
How can I practise leg lifts?
Leg Lifts on a gymnastics bar are fantastic for improving core strength but they’re not easy to begin with.
These are some of the exercises I use with competitive gymnasts when they practice leg lifts:
- Negative Leg Lifts: Start with the feet touching the bar and slowly lower the legs (without bending). The slower the better on the way down.
- No Swing Leg Lifts: Place a block mat behind the gymnast to stop them swinging at the start of a leg lift. Swinging makes leg lifts less effective at improving core strength. If you don’t have a block mat use a partner instead.
- Scissors: Hang in a Pike Shape and slowly separate the feet so one is higher than the other. Keep alternating the feet up and down in a scissor action
- Half-Way Leg Lifts: Start and finish your leg lift in a pike position. Don’t let your feet go any lower than horizontal.