7 Gymnastic Tips from CrossFit Games Athlete Kari Pearce

CrossFit Games Athelete Kari Pearce has 18 years of gymnastic experience under her belt. Find out what she thinks you need to focus on to improve your skills, strength and technique.

These tips come direct from Kari Pearce herself. I recently attended an excellent seminar that she led at Argo Athletics in Berlin where she worked through all the following drills, workouts and tips.

Her favourite gymnastic exercises are handstand walks and her least favourite are toes to bar. She considers grip strength to be a weakness of hers that she is currently working on in order to improve. 

1. THE HANDSTAND HOLD IS ALL IN THE FINGERTIPS

A strong core is obviously essential to maintain the handstand hold, but according to Kari, controlling the movement with your fingertips is where the real skill lies. Splay your fingertips slightly and press them hard against the floor. This will help you to balance and control the exercise. 

Fixing  a point on the floor can also help you to maintain a rigid body position without swaying around too much.

2. HOLLOW ROCKS AND HOLDS NEED TO BE A HUGE PART OF YOUR TRAINING

When Kari competed as a gymnast she would regularly be required to hold a 5 minute hollow hold as part of her normal training sessions. Give this a try and see how long you can hold one for. This is a good test to use for testing your core strength to see if it is improving as it is easily measurable. 

When it comes to technique for both hollow holds and rocks, pick a point on ceiling to stare at and fix your eyes on it. 

3. WORK ON STRICT MOVEMENTS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Strict movements build the strength that you need to move and control your body through all the other gymnastic exercises. They also strengthen tendons and ligaments and help to build strong motor patterns and improve proprioception. Try this WOD from Kari:

KARI PEARCE STRICT PULL UP WORKOUT

  • 20 seconds on, 20 seconds rest
  • Strict pull ups. Slow every descent to take 3 seconds.
  • 8 rounds total.

4. MAXIMISE YOUR EFFICIENCY WITH BUTTERFLY TECHNIQUE

  • Generate the power from the hips 
  • Keep your legs together
  • Hips pop open as you go up and round 
  • kick and scoop the movement

In her seminar, Kari stressed the importance of keeping tight movement patterns and always focusing on your form. A drill she uses is to start in small circles then move into larger movements until you are performing the full movement. Do this in 3 sets of 6 reps.

5. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF ENDURANCE IN GYMNASTIC WORKOUTS

Kari stressed the importance of building up a good resistance to fatigue in Gymnastics. Technique and movement are so important, but you must also be able to maintain these during longer workouts.

GYMNASTIC ENDURANCE WORKOUT

Advanced 

  • 10 sets of kipping pull ups.
  • 20 -35% of your max unbroken set.
  • 30 seconds rest between sets

Beginner

  • 8 mins sets of 5 – 10 reps
  • 30 seconds rest between sets

Tape your thumbs up and wrap them around the bar.

6. RING DIPS SHOULD BE A STAPLE PART OF YOUR UPPER BODY TRAINING

Strict ring dips are a great way to build powerful chest, arm and shoulder strength for your body. They also help to improve your balance and coordination. 

Keep the rings pointed straight, or turn them out slightly to make the movement even harder.

7. REGULARLY PRACTICE HANDSTAND WALK DRILLS

Try this exercise from Kari to get used to shifting your bodyweight from side to side during the handstand walk.

Take small steps.

A more upright body will lead to a slower but more controlled walk. Leaning the legs forwards will help to go faster but you will have less control.

5 Gymnastic Workouts to Improve Core Strength for Crossfitters

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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