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7 Gymnastics Exercises to Seriously Improve Your CrossFit Skills

Gymnastics is a core aspect of CrossFit, use these exercises to improve your skills.

Bodyweight movements are considered gymnastics in CrossFit, this includes relatively easy exercises such as air squats and push-ups, and high-skill movements like handstand walks and ring muscle ups.

You don’t have to look far to find gymnastics movements in CrossFit, they come up in almost every workout. By improving your gymnastics skills you’ll also become better at the other aspects of CrossFit, as gymnastics is one of the core elements of the sport and a good foundation will help maximise competency in the other areas.

“In CrossFit, the gymnastics label is applied any exercise in which you move your body through a range of motion (ROM) or extended range of motion (EROM) without an external load. Isometric holds are also considered gymnastics,” reads the CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer Course.


Try these gymnastics exercises to improve your skills and become a better athlete.

7 Gymnastics Exercises to Seriously Improve Your CrossFit Skills

1: Hangs

Grip strength is far more important than many people realize, and it is tremendously important to develop it. The biggest biceps and lats are of little use if you cannot also hold onto the bar or rings.

Hanging from the bar or rings will develop grip strength, as will frequently picking things up.

Aim to hang from the bar at least 45 seconds and slowly increase the time. You can either perform a dead hang or an active hang, the only difference being active shoulders and core on the second.

2: Hollow body position

crossfit gymnastic improve

The hollow body position (alongside with the arch position) defines midline stability for gymnasts and is the basis for solid gymnastics movement. It is probably the most important exercise not just in CrossFit gymnastics but in CrossFit in general.

To perform the hollow body position press your low back onto the ground making sure there’s no space between it and the floor. Then, lift your legs up with your toes pointed and bring the arms up overhead, all along making to keep your lower back stuck to the floor beneath.

The arch body position is achieved through a strong contraction of the posterior kinetic chain while lying prone on the ground. The arch is less technical than the hollow, yet also activates tissue throughout the body.

These two positions are seen not only in static movements but in dynamic ones as well. Their aim is to create as much tension as possible, as this will translate into power.

A really good understanding of the foundation of the hollow and arch body positions is very important.

3: Half pull-ups

Performing half pull-ups will help you develop the strength needed to perform pull ups with good form (and then move on to muscle ups or handstand push-ups). To do this movement, get to the start position of a pull up and, making sure you keep your core engaged and your body is in a hollow position, pull yourself half way up until your arms are at a 90 degree angle.

After a few reps of these, move to the top of the pull up and lower yourself down to half way. Again, ensure your body maintains a hollow position and the move is controlled.


Half pull-ups will help initiate lat activation and maintain a good hollow body position for complete pull-ups and any other gymnastic pulling exercises.

“Strength is required for proper form, and proper form is required to demonstrate body control. As such, gymnastics has a clear emphasis on strength in body-weight movements.” – CrossFit Gymnastics Training Guide.

4: Wall Walk

Inversions develop strength and muscular endurance in the core and shoulders, as well as improve your body control and body awareness.

Maintain active shoulders as you start to move up the wall and keep your body in a hollow position. It should feel as you were pushing the ground away from you.

Make sure you keep your legs together and get as close to the wall as possible, preferably touching the wall with your nose as you reach the highest point. Then walk back out in a controlled manner and keep the core tight – that’s what will help develop strength.

5: Wall facing handstand hold

A progression from the wall walk, this inversion will require you to go upside down and hold the position.

To perform a wall facing handstand hold you can either wall walk to the initial position or cartwheel into it.

Keep your hands under your shoulders and your core tight. The only two body parts that should be touching the wall are your nose and your toes.

This gymnastics exercise will help you develop body control and build the necessary strength to perform freestanding handstand holds and other high-skill gymnastics movements.

6: Ring support

Ring work will help you develop shoulder and core strength and endurance.

For the ring support, hold onto the rings and support your weight in a controlled manner.

Make sure your wrists are directly over the top of the rings (as opposed to flexed to the sides). Keep your shoulders active – try to keep them as far away from your ears as possible – and maintain a nice hollow body position throughout.

The more stable you are, the more stable the rings will feel and the more this exercise will deliver.

7: Ring in and out

Also known as single arm extensions. Bring the rings close to the ground and get into a push up position with your hands on the rings. It’s alright to keep your feet wide to counterbalance the movement.

Go to the bottom of the push up position and from there extend one arm directly out, until the elbow is completely extended, and bring it back in. Alternate between arms.

Ensure the rings are hanging free at all times (don’t lean into them) as this provides support and keep your hips and shoulders square.

To scale this gymnastics exercise walk your feet closer to the hanging rings, this will take some of your weight away.

Read more: The Best Ring Row Back Workouts for CrossFit Athletes

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