How To Get A Gymnast Body: Look Lean Using Only Bodyweight Exercises

“I wonder how you can get a gymnast’s body?” I remember asking myself that almost every 4 years when the Olympics came on. The body these Olympians carried was different than the typical bodybuilder look you found in magazines.

I was only a kid when I first saw the 1984 Summer games. The Olympics that year happened in Los Angeles and living in the city hosting the games was very exciting. Every night it was awesome seeing a group of athletes, the elite, giving their best effort to win gold. However, as a kid the two groups of athletes I wanted to look like were gymnasts and swimmers.

Why A Gymnast’s Body Is Appealing

When you look at a gymnast one thing that always stands out is how natural their physiques look. The physiques these athletes have achieved, both male and female, is one that is lean, muscular, very defined and have low body fat.

Another factor that sets this body apart is that it is very different from what you see in bodybuilders and gym rats. Gymnasts are not bulky, but rather follow more natural proportions that look attractive. These athletes have muscular definition without looking huge and unnatural. Their bodies are not a far departure from what you see in a model or Hollywood actor or actress. The body type these athletes have can look good in fashionable clothes and in workout gear.

How To Get A Gymnast’s Body

Although you can get a gymnast’s body using any type of strength training such as weights or kettlebells and resistance bands, here we will follow a bodyweight approach, after all gymnasts only use bodyweight exercises, similar to what you see in Jason Ferruggia’s Bodyweight Bodybuilding, to get in shape for competition.

The advantage of using a bodyweight program is that you can do these types of exercises practically anywhere and with little to no cost. If you are at home you can simply put an inexpensive pull up bar and use this for exercises like pull ups and leg raises or you can simply use the horizontal bar of a fence. The rest of the equipment you will need is only your body. Your body literally becomes your gym equipment.

A Bodyweight Routine To Get Lean

In order to get in shape and get that gymnast type body is much easier than you think. For best results I recommend doing strength training type exercises and cardio exercises. Rather than working out 7 days a week, 3 to 5 days a week schedule will work well.

A 4 Days A Week Routine

Day One- Upper Body Emphasis

  • Push Ups (chest and triceps exercise)
  • Pull Ups (back and biceps exercise)- use a palms outward and shoulder width apart grip
  • Close Grip Push Ups (Triangle Push Ups targets the triceps)
  • Chin Ups (targets the biceps)- use a palms inward and shoulder width apart grip
  • Handstand Push Ups (targets the shoulders)- this exercise can be performed against a wall or someone holding you by your ankles. You will be upside down. Proceed to lower your body slowly and press your weight back up. If this is too intimidating or difficult you can place your feet on the seat of a chair and place your upper body at a steep decline as if going down and headfirst. Lower your upper body slowly and press your weight back up.
  • Dips

* Note: You should do from 3 to 4 sets per exercise and 10 to 12 repetitions per set. Rest one minute between sets.

Cardio: do short burst interval training. Do a 30 seconds fast sprint followed by one-minute rest. Repeat this sequence for 10 to 15 minutes and finish with a 15-minute jog.

Day 2- Lower Body and Abs/ Core Emphasis

  • Squats
  • Jump Squats
  • Lunges
  • Standing Calf Raises
  • Planks
  • Hanging Leg Raises or Lying leg raises

Note: You should do 3 to 4 sets per exercise and 10 to 12 repetitions per set. Rest one minute between sets.

Cardio: Do a 15 to 20 minute walk or jog.

Day 3- Rest/ Cardio optional

Day 4- Repeat day 1

Day 5- Repeat day 2

Day 6 &7: Rest

A 3-Day Sequence

Week One
Day One- Upper Body
Day Two- Rest
Day Three- Lower Body
Day Four- Rest/ Do an activity like walking
Day Five- Upper Body
Day Six and 7- Rest

Week 2

The following week switch your upper body days for lower body exercises and your lower body day (day 3) for upper body exercises. Switch back the following week.

Week 3
Switch back to week one.

  • Follow this pattern for a 3-day per week schedule.

Cardio: do burst training interval style cardio on upper body days and walking or jogging on lower body days.

Developing a body that is lean and attractive can be done easily with a structured program. Bodyweight routines, like Jason Ferruggia’s Bodyweight Bodybuilding, are one way that is easy and can be done by anyone anywhere. By combining cardio along with a strength training approach you will see your body look leaner and more defined without looking bulky.

Learning how to get a gymnast’s body is not impossible. Much like a swimmer’s body it is easier to accomplish than the huge bodybuilder look- but then again, not many want to see that.

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