Fitness Testing for Gymnastics

There are many components of fitness that are important for successful performance for a gymnast. Although skill is very important, the fitness components of flexibility and strength are also important, as well being a specific body size and maintaining a low level of body fat.

A gymnast who is small and flexible is advantaged in body rotation activities. In a poll of the most important components of fitness for gymnastics, flexibility is a clear winner, over balance and coordination. Also, in another poll of the most important factors of success for gymnasts strength, power and speed are ranking highly. Below are the range of fitness components that should be tested on a gymnast, and some suggested tests to perform.

Fitness Component Suggested Tests Comments
Body Size Height and weight Height and weight measurements are important to monitor growth. Being small advantageous in body rotation activities. See more about Anthropometry and Gymnastics.
Body Composition Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, it can be replaced by regularly monitoring body weight changes which would give an indication of body fat changes (assuming limited changes in muscle mass). Excess body fat would affect the gymnast's ability to move freely, and reduce their power to weight ratio important for lifting their body weight.
Flexibility The sit and reach test is a basic flexibility test for lower back and hamstring flexibility. An elite gymnast would require more sophisticated flexibility test over a range of joints. An excellent level of flexibility is important for all gymnastics events.
Speed Sprint time over 20m, with a split time for the first 5 and 10m should be done. Running speed and particularly acceleration over a short distance are important in gymnastics floor exercises and vaulting. 
Strength & Power The vertical jump test can be performed to measure leg power. A handgrip strength testis also suitable. Strength and power tests should also be done to determine strength levels and to monitor strength changes in conjunction with training programs. 
Strength Endurance Push Up and Sit Up tests tests of strength endurance are used to measure the ability to perform strength movements repeatedly.
Aerobic Fitness The shuttle run (beep) test would usually be the most appropriate test for testing a gymnastics team. You can find information on many other aerobic tests here. Aerobic fitness is a very important component of fitness for gymnastics. 

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