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Best Supplements to Enhance a Gymnast’s Strength and Flexibility

https://amzn.to/3b8AKjQGymnastics is a high intensity sport that requires numerous hours a day in the gym building strength, endurance, and flexibility. Gymnasts train for numerous hours without eating, but have to maintain energy and their lean muscle mass. Along with maintaining strength in muscles, it is important for gymnasts to have good bone strength and flexibility.


Did you know that when a gymnast lands they are landing with approximately 14x their body weight? Now, that’s a lot of force exerted on the gymnast. In order for gymnasts to perform well and stay clear of injuries, they must have adequate strength and flexibility. Most gymnastics facilities have strength and flexibility incorporated into their regime, but the right supplement could enhance those traits.


Since gymnastics is different from most sports in the amount of hours practicing and having to be lean all year round, it is important to choose the right supplement. Supplements that target the building of lean muscle, bone strength and joint flexibility are recommended for gymnasts. Below are the top ten supplements that will enhance a gymnast’s performance.


Table of Contents:

  1. BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)

  2. Beta-Alanine

  3. Creatine

  4. Whey Protein

  5. Vitamin-D

  6. Glucosamine

  7. Magnesium

  8. Calcium

  9. Vitamin-C

  10. Glutathione


BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)


What are they?


The Branched-Chain Amino Acids are made up of three essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine. Because your body cannot produce these amino acids, you must consume them through your diet. These BCAAs compose 35% of your body’s muscle protein. When working out, BCAA’s will help conserve your muscle glycogen store to limit protein breakdown.


What do they do in the Body?

BCAAs are essential in muscle growth because they fuel your muscles during your training session and allow you to push through extra sets or reps. They do this by conserving your muscle glycogen storage, which is your main source of energy production. It is important to preserve glycogen stores because without them, your body will break down muscle protein for energy instead. Taking supplemental BCAAs will ensure that your body has a dependable source of energy to use while training.


How do they benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


As gymnasts, you train for an average of 4-8 hours a day, and you must have lean muscle to perform the various skills you practice. Without the proper nutrients and fuel before practice, your body will start to break down muscle protein for energy. BCCAs are important supplements for gymnasts because they will conserve the glycogen stores, and limit the breakdown of muscle protein during their long practices. This ensures that a gymnast can continue to build strength throughout the practice and not lose any muscle proteins.


Whey Protein (S)


What is it?

Whey protein comes from the liquid portion of milk that is removed from cheese during production. It is an important supplement because it consists of all 9 essential amino acids (amino acids that your body cannot produce). Whey protein also has the highest BV (biological value) compared to any other protein source, meaning it is consumed by the body faster. This supplement can be found most commonly in powder forms, usually flavored, and added to other food items such as protein bars or shakes.


What does it do in the body?


Because whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, it includes the main amino acids found in BCAAs and serves a similar purpose. However, the main job of whey protein is not to keep you going throughout the workout, but making sure your muscles are recovered afterwards. When whey protein is consumed after a workout, it gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair your muscles while creating new muscles.


How does it benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Gymnasts usually practice 6 days a week meaning they have to be fully recovered after their practices to ensure they can perform at their very best the following day. Whey protein is a great supplement for gymnasts to get the amino acids they need to recover fast and build lean muscle. As a gymnast, it is important to go into the gym feeling refreshed and recovered to be able to build the strength you need to perform well and avoid injuries.


Beta-Alanine (S)


What is it?


Unlike BCAAs and Whey Protein, Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning your body can create it. However, this amino acid does not aid in the building of proteins in the body, instead it pairs with histidine to create the chemical, carnosine. Carnosine helps limit lactic acid build up in muscles after training, in turn helping athletic performance and lean muscle building.


What does it do in the body?


In a skeletal muscle, the histidine levels tend to be higher and the beta-alanine levels lower, causing a limited production of carnosine. When beta-alanine supplements are taken it allows the body to create carnosine to help with muscle recovery and growth. When you workout, our body uses glycolysis to breakdown the glucose in our body creating lactic acid. This lactic acid is transformed into lactate which releases hydrogen ions, making your muscles more acidic. When your muscles become acidic, all glucose breakdown for energy is blocked. But, when carnosine is present it creates a buffer against the acid, allowing your muscles to continue contracting.


How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Like I mentioned before, gymnasts have to practice for long hours every day. Taking beta-alanine can help gymnasts stay energized for the entire practice. It can also increase the gymnast’s time to exhaustion, and benefit shorter duration exercises, like routines. Beta-alanine can give the gymnast the muscle endurance they need to perform safely.


Creatine (S)


What is it?


Creatine is created by your body and mainly found in muscle cells in your body. Your body uses two amino acids, glycine and arginine to produce creatine. It is stored in the body in the form of phosphocreatine. Creatine’s primary use is to create energy during training by converting to a high energy molecule, ATP. It is commonly taken by athletes to build muscle, increase strength, and improve performance.


What it does in the body?


During high-intensity workouts, creatine’s main role is to enhance the amount of phosphocreatine in muscle cells. The extra phosphocreatine can then be converted into ATP for energy during training. Along with creating more energy, creatine can also boost muscle growth. It improves cell signaling, which allows muscle repair and growth, limits muscle breakdown for energy, reduces myostatin levels, which is a chemical that blocks muscle growth, and can help your muscle stay energized for longer periods of time.


How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


It is important for gymnasts to have energy throughout their entire practice to ensure their safety. By taking creatine, the gymnasts can have the strength they need to push through their high-intensity workouts they endure every day. Creatine allows the gymnasts to increase their workload, which in turn results in long-term muscle growth. Gymnasts need to be able to perform a routine from beginning to end without a decrease in energy and creatine supplements will help them do this.


Vitamin D (S)


What is it?


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that cannot be produced by the body or found in many food products. The main source of vitamin D is the ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can be hard for living in areas that have cold, gloomy winters. Vitamin D can aid in protein building, muscle function, and bone strength.


What does it do in the body?


Vitamin D plays a big role in two major functions of the body: Bone strength and muscle strength. Vitamin D supplements can enhance the amount of fast twitch muscles within an athlete’s body by modifying the transportation of calcium to increase the calcium binding sites. These calcium binding sites are important because they help our muscles contract. On the other hand, Vitamin D also helps bone strength by helping the absorption of calcium into the bones. Without vitamin D, calcium cannot be reabsorbed into your body.


How does it benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Gymnasts are mainly anaerobic athletes so the enhancement of fast twitch muscles from vitamin D supplements are crucial to a gymnast’s performance. Gymnasts need both strong muscles, and strong bones. Gymnasts do a lot of dangerous skills that can lead to injury if they aren’t careful. Without strong bones or muscles, gymnasts are at risk for broken bones and stress fractures. Having an adequate amount of Vitamin D in your body is essential for gymnasts to build strength that will support all their movements.


Magnesium (F and S)


What is it?


Magnesium is a chemical that is used in the body for over 300 chemical reactions. It aids in bone metabolism and cardiac activity along with improving energy production (ATP). It also has been proven to increase joint health and flexibility. Magnesium supplements are sometimes taken with zinc supplements because they work along each other to help an athlete’s muscles recover and bring oxygen to muscles during a workout.


What does it do in the Body?


The most important role that magnesium has on an athlete is the relaxing effects it has on the body’s recovery. Magnesium lowers the amount of lactic acid in your muscles after working out, along with helping the body absorb calcium into the bones instead of allowing calcification in the muscles. This helps relieve muscle stiffness, tension, or cramping, maintaining flexibility in joints and muscles.


How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Many skills in gymnastics require flexibility in order to be completed correctly, so having flexible joints and muscle is important for all gymnasts. Along with the ability to perform certain skills, it is important for gymnasts to be flexible to reduce their risk of injury. After a day of practicing and strength training, gymnasts need to recover. Magnesium supplements can help gymnasts relax their muscles after a practice to ensure their flexibility is maintained.


Calcium (F)


What is it?


Calcium is a mineral that cannot be produced by our bodies but is needed to build strong bones, contract our muscles, and help our blood clot. Because our bodies can’t produce it, we need to include calcium into our diet because if we don’t our bodies can start to take calcium from our bones, making them weak. However, in order for our bodies to absorb calcium into our bones, we need an adequate amount of Vitamin D.


What does it do in the body?


Calcium is absorbed by the body through active and passive transport, and works together with Vitamin D receptors to be fully absorbed. Because vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed into your bones, your body needs to have enough vitamin D present. It is important to have enough calcium in your body because it can be excreted very easily. Your body needs calcium to do many important tasks in your body including, contracting all muscle, including your heart, carrying nerve signals, and releasing hormones and enzymes. So without adequate amounts of calcium, your body begins to take it from your bones, causing them to become weaker.


How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Like I have mentioned before, it is important for gymnasts to not only have strong muscles, but to have strong bones for all the hard landings and tumbling they do. If gymnasts do not have enough calcium in their diet, their bones will become weak, causing fractures and broken bones. Calcium also helps build muscle strength in gymnasts because it allows muscles to contract and grow.


Vitamin C (F)


What is it?


Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that our bodies cannot produce on their own. To maintain acceptable levels of Vitamin C we need to to include it in our diets. Vitamin C is important to the production of collagen, which is found in your connective tissues.


What it does in the body?


Vitamin C helps produce the protein, collagen, which is found in your body’s connective tissues. Collagen plays an important role in joint health by repairing or preventing the breakdown of cartilage.

How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


As mentioned before, it is important for gymnasts to be flexible to learn new skills and to reduce risks of injury. From experience, I know that a lot of gymnasts have hyperextended joints, meaning they are able to stretch their joints a little further than most people. Vitamin C supplements will help a gymnast’s body produce collagen, creating elasticity in muscles, ligaments, and tendons so the gymnast can have those beautifully straight legs and overly pointed toes.


Glucosamine (F)


What is it?


Glucosamine is created by the body and is found in the tissue that surrounds your joints, cartilage. Glucosamine supplements are made in a lab or found in the shells of shellfish. This supplement assists in joint flexibility, lubrication, and strength by repairing cartilage and building new cartilage. Unfortunately, as we use our joints more, the cartilage starts to break down causing pain and decreased flexibility in joints.


What does it do in the body?


Like Vitamin C, glucosamine can help the production of the protein collagen in connective tissues. Collagen helps the regeneration of lost cartilage and preserves health of current cartilage.


How does this benefit strength/flexibility in gymnastics?


Like I mentioned in the introduction, gymnasts land every skill with a force of 14x their body weight. That is a lot of stress on the joints and the cartilage that surrounds those joints. I know from experience that many gymnasts have joint pains due to the lack of cartilage they have. Cartilage is important because it provides the cushion between two bones and it can be very painful if that cushion is gone. Glucosamine supplements can help gymnasts maintain joint flexibility by repairing damaged cartilage and preventing the breakdown of more cartilage.



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