a successful conditioning program

by site editor Rick McCharles

The newly arrived Head Coach in a gym with over 100 competitive girls, I needed to organize a very adaptable conditioning program.

We had large numbers. We had kids with vastly different training hours. We had too few coaches to directly supervise every child.

Here’s what we did:

First half hour of training for every girl was warm-up stretching, games and “floor complex”. These were line drills adjusted to the specific needs of each ability level. Emphasis was on “form” and body position.


The second half hour was conditioning: either Partner or Individual program. Each gymnast had both programs back-to-back in a plastic sheet along with a small golf pencil to make revisions. Kids tried to finish all exercises within 30min.

specific conditioning program
specific conditioning program

Actually, both the Partner sheet and the Individual sheet had 2 programs: Medium intensity and Hard intensity. If the gymnast had training the following day, they did the Medium intensity. If no training the next day, then the Hard intensity.

Once gymnasts had their sheets, the onus was on them to do the work. The coaches stayed “free” to observe and step-in when necessary. (Coaches were steadily busy.)

At first we feared the girls would “cheat” or “slack off”. Not so. Within a couple of weeks everyone was “into it”.  The psychology of the gym was excellent. It developed intrinsic motivation.

The girls were asked to do each exercise “to exhaustion”. Until their muscles were shaking. We did not assign specific numbers of repetitions though the girls were encouraged to remember their personal records and try to beat them.


We changed both programs once a month. The individual training plan changed on the 1st of the month, the Partner plan on the 15th.

We kept about 50% of the exercises and changed the rest to something more challenging. By the end of the year girls were doing better ring strength than many of the boys!

sample – individual-conditioning (PDF)


if you want to succeed

Devy Dyson.

a Gym Dad’s first competition

His first rodeo. 🙂

… I was standing in a cavernous gym outside of Baltimore, watching my kid compete in her first official gymnastics meet. This was a long time coming for the girl. She had to practice for years to make the team, and she had to practice for months after that just to get to this first meet. And now it was all over. …

I remember when I would lose as a kid (happened a lot), and my parents would try to make it better by consoling me, but somehow everything they said just pissed me off. Now it was my turn to be the awkward sports parent. …

So I shut up and took her to Wendy’s instead. Everyone fails in life. It’s an important part of the learning process. But that doesn’t mean it sucks any less when it happens to you, or to someone you love. …

But we drove home and, bit by bit, she calmed down and laughed and smiled and started to resemble herself again. She started doing cartwheels and handstands in the living room and driving me nuts, just like she did before the meet …

What It’s Like To Watch Your Kid Lose