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Gymnasts at the competitive level need to pay attention to their fitness levels in order to perform well and continue to improve. Most gymnasts get plenty of exercise and physical activity with their training. That exercise has to be balanced with the right foods and appropriate calorie intake. Weight management is required to keep gymnasts fit and athletic, but that does not mean constant dieting. If a gymnast does not consume enough calories, she will not have the energy and stamina she needs to get through a workout or a meet. Staying fit for gymnastics means eating right, managing anxiety and getting enough rest.
Balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn. Each gymnast requires an different caloric intake depending on size and how hard you work out.
Fill up on healthy carbohydrates. A diet without carbs is not good for gymnasts because the carbs provide energy. Vegetables, whole grains and fruits are great sources of carbohydrates that are low in calories and fat.
Eat lean protein. According to USA Gymnastics, gymnasts need the amino acids in protein to build muscle and maintain healthy tissues. Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, eggs, beans and lean cuts of beef.
Choose fats carefully. Gymnasts need fats in their diets for energy and brain functions, but this does not mean ice cream and cookies. Stay fit by getting fat from olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and cheese.
Stay away from junk food and anything processed. To keep your body fit for gymnastics, you should avoid packaged and artificial foods high in calories, fats and sodium but low in nutrients.
Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Your body performs best when on a regular schedule.
Give yourself time to adjust to different time zones when you travel for competitions. This might require extra sleep a few days before you perform.
Nap in the middle of the day if your schedule permits. However, do not take a nap within three to four hours of your regular bedtime.
Stay away from caffeine, especially within four hours of bedtime.
Create a ritual at bedtime that lets your body know it is time to sleep. Staying fit for gymnastics means getting plenty of rest, and if you are wide awake at bedtime, you will need to train your body to begin shutting down.
Manage your nerves and anxiety. A little stress before a meet is natural, but don't let it interfere with your health. Talk to a counselor or to your coach if you feel you cannot overcome your anxiety.
Watch for obsessive behaviors. USA Gymnastics says that a majority of gymnasts have been told they are too heavy by a coach, judge or other authority figure. This can lead to an eating disorder, which will not help a gymnast stay fit.
Practice your routines in your head. Visualizing what you must do will help you improve your mental fitness for gymnastics and prepare you for your competitions.
Practice self motivation. Perform well and practice your hardest because you want to, not because your coaches expect you to.
Concentrate on what you are currently doing. To stay mentally fit, you cannot think about the next apparatus when you are preparing to mount a different one.
- Work with a registered dietitian who specializes in sports or works with athletes. A professional can help you with eating plans and calorie charts.