10 Realisations for Combining Weightlifting with Gymnastics; Months 4-8 | The Cloudfoot Diaries #63

8 months in to my Weightlifting journey and I’ve come away with some valuable lessons and realisations as to how to combine weightlifting with gymnastics training – a self-experiment that I’ve been delving into, despite there being not a lot of info out there.

Without futher ado…

1. Weightlifting needs to be 3 times a week if you’re looking to progress your numbers in both lifts.

2. Gymnastics skill sessions in a gymnasium (using the spring floor or trampolines, etc) need to be 3 times a week for fastest results. You can get away with 2 sessions a week, just about but you need to work on ‘removing the rust’ at the beginning of each session, which usually takes around 20-30 minutes for me.

3. Progressing with Weightlifting in both lifts, plus 1 gymnastic skill of choice (front lever or round offs, for example) is a realistic combo. Trying to improve both of the lifts, plus 2 skills for gymnastics proved to be too hard on my body and mind. Front Levers and Front Planches were what I started with initially. Too much!
I found that the weightlifting needs to be 3 times a week in this case, the gymnastic skill of choice needs to be trained 2 times a week, minimum.
There is room for just focusing on one of the lifts, baring in mind I have been trying to improve both the snatch and clean + jerk, as evenly as possible. Working on one lift for 12 weeks + gymnastics, then switching to the other lift for 12 weeks could be explored.

4. Realistically, you’re looking at training 5-6 days a week. That will take its toll on your body and joints, believe me. Your recovery training needs to be on point if you’re training this much. That takes it to 7 days a week that you’ll be doing something training related. You’re now training like a semi-pro / professional athlete. Good Luck.

5. Combining weightlifting with gymnastics would be much easier, recovery wise, with the assistance of steroids. Weightlifting is rife with steroid use, meaning those guys and girls can train anywhere between 6-7 days a week, 1-3 times a day. Gymnastics has had less bad press with regards to roid use, but if I had to guess, I’d say they’re on it at an elite level, too, especially regarding injury rehab and off-season micro dosing.
I have been doing this experiment steroid-free and I can completely understand why the weightlifters are juicing up, let alone combining their lifiting with gymnastics.

6. There’s definitely scope for titling the next phase ‘Combining Gymastics with Weightlifting’ and making gymnastics the focus. In which case, gymnastics 3 times a week, minimum, weightlifting twice a week minimum.
You could play around with focusing on just one lift for the two sessions, using them to improve technique etc. Or performing both lifts as a sort of maintenance process….you won’t necessarily improve the numbers lifting only twice a week but you may not decrease your numbers, either.

7. You best be working on your worst areas of mobility every spare second you have, otherwise with this kind of stress on your body from lifting and gymnastics, you’re never far away from something in your body breaking. More on this to come.

8. Use a low-stress gymnastic skill / progression immediately after your warm up and mobility drills but before the main lifts to utilise the ‘3 days a week to perfect a skill’ rule.   For example, handstands, or progressions there of can be done straight after your mobs in a way that teaches you the skill, doesn’t exhaust you too much to lift and is using time efficiently. This skill block only needs to be 10-15 minutes long.

This is more of a programming lesson / time management tip more than anything. My handstands have really improved, averaging 15-20 seconds freestanding on the floor, and about 30 seconds on paralettes. I started at around 5 seconds.

9. Weightlifting batters the skin on your hands. Once your calluses reach a certain density, they are going to start flappin’ and coming off on the bar. Get a file and start reducing their level of protrusion as soon as you can. I didn’t, and as a result a problem area developed on my left pinky pad and became an abosulte bastard to tape up and try and protect.

10. Abs/TVA/Obliques and Low back work to assist weightlifting can be programmed utilising gymnastics-based exercises, such as hollow body stuff, etc. Gymnastic Bodies have an exhaustive list of core exercises that I have played around with. And if you’re not doing any of this to assist your lifting and daily life, the clock is ticking before you get into trouble.

Harry Cloudfoot is an explorer of movement and very probably the first van-dweller to feature in Men’s Health magazine. You can follow his journeys on Instagram and Twitter.

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Harry Cloudfoot is a writer and explorer of movement and mind. You can check his social media if you want but you'd be better off going and doing something, instead.
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