Combining Gymnastics with Weightlifting; Week 2 of 12 in review | The Cloudfoot Diaries #58

The second of the twelve week, gymnastics and weightlifting combo-experiment is complete. Rather than post each day separately, I’ve compiled the training log and lessons learnt in to one post.


I had the privilege to sit down with master stuntman and all-round nice guy, Mr Kai Martin  (click the link and check his showreel..Holy Shit!) at the beginning of the week, to pick his brains on programming and the like. If there’s a goal I’m trying to achieve, relating to strength, hypertrophy or some for of gymnastic skill acquisition, Kai has probably done it – it’s his job to get in shape to match the actor that he’s doubling, and they include famous actors of all shapes and sizes.

Here’s what he had to say relating to my programme…

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Revisiting Sprinting and APRE Front Squats | The Cloudfoot Diaries #52


Day 1 of the ninja blueprint programme is done and I’m happy with its contents, duration and programming, however, not so enthused by the DOMS it has caused right at the beginning of the week.
Allow me to elaborate…

Here is Day 1 :

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Combining Gymnastics with Weightlifting – The Weekly Programme | The Cloudfoot Diaries #51

turtlesSo here it is; the ninja-athleticism blueprint experiment. A combo of gymnastics and weightlifting, for someone who wants to maintain a social life, part-time job and sanity.

Note: this is a self-experiment, aimed towards me, programmed towards achieving my own goals and open to many a changes. 

I have based this programming on the idea that I need to do weightlifting 3 times a week in order to: progress with the skill, increase my weights and not stagnate. And similarly with the gymnastic-related goals, at least twice a week is needed in order to make gains and not fall behind.

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Pondering the requirements of a personalised training programme | The Cloudfoot Diaries #47


With the global new year’s resolution craze under the title ‘health and fitness’ being somewhat viral each and every January, I have been thinking lately about my own goals and the requirements that need to be present in my training programmes for 2015. Whatever your physical goals are, the information is out there on how to attain it.

For me personally, my quest towards ‘Ninja status’ continues. With a new found interest in the sport and methodology of Weightlifting coming in the latter part of 2014, and a continuing desire to achieve the most ridiculous of gymnastic holds, a key question for me when designing and researching the available methods on how to achieve this was; ‘How can I combine gymnastics and weightlifting together, into a week-by-week programme?

Taking that question a step further; ‘What are my physical goals for 2015?‘ and ‘How can they be implemented in to the same programme, as a semi-professional athlete?


Planches in your pants are a must

These are important questions to ask yourself for your own training. Following people’s programmes is a great idea, as long as they aim to deliver the same sort of results that you are striving for. Too many people out there fall for the Men’s Health Bullshit Special, that rarely addresses real weaknesses of the individual (or has a built-in methodology on how to do so) and is founded upon achieving often unrealistic goals that are based on fads and mass-marketable appeal. You know turd is in the air if your workout can’t be completed without buying the author’s supplement inventory.

One of my favourite pastimes is digging around the internet, researching whatever it is I’m interested in. In this instance, combining gymnastics with weightlifting isn’t really talked about other than within the realms of Crossfit, which doesn’t interest me beyond the programming side. I’m more psyched for movement enhancement, a state of flow and ninja prowess, than I am increasing my capacity to that of an engine.

The Chinese Olympic Weightlifting team are renowned for combining gymnastics with weightlifting, except they are all juiced to rafters from aged 11 meaning they can recover overnight and go again, for years on end. I’m not taking steroids, so I have to bare in mind I’m realistically not going to be able to match their training standards, however much I might think I’m superhuman.


Programming is everything. The highest quality results don’t surface from the ‘I’ll just feel my way through today’s improvised workout‘ anymore. Scientific programming produces the best of the best; just look at the Soviet’s gymnastic and weightlifting record (science combined with ruthless political agenda no doubt, but still science nonetheless).

Programming yourself is tricky, however. It’s hard not to over complicate the template and to be brutally honest about where your weaknesses lie.

Considerations and requirements for my own programming were as follows;

  1. Increasing my Snatch lift from 63kg to 70kg and Clean and Jerk from 90kg to 100kg.
  2. Increasing Front Squat 3RM from 90kg to 100kg.
  3. Progressing along the seemingly infinite path towards holding a Planche and Front Lever.
  4. Mobility exercises that develop my own mobility weaknesses and progression towards achieving the splits (in time); ankles and hips mainly.
  5. Gymnastic movement progress – notably the roundoff and basic tumbling.
  6. Intrinsic prehab exercises to help prevent injury as much as possible.
  7. Training 6 days a week whilst somehow still having a life
  8. Increase my lean muscle mass – body weight increase from 82kg to 85kg.
  9. A basic metabolic conditioning component (I’ve noticed stagnations in my strength and recovery progress without including this)
  10. Each session can’t really exceed 90 minutes in length. I have friends. Honest.

The above are scheduled in for a 12 week block. Programming beyond this and I tend to lose focus. 12 weeks also allows you to tell what is really effective and what is rubbish.
Of course, the appropriate deloading and recovery protocols are included – 12 weeks straight up is not a wise move.

So how do exemplary sessions look like taking the above into account? In what order do each of these requirements exist?
Here are some ideas;

Option 1
Warm up
Low Intensity Skill Training (Handstand progressions / variations)
Sprints / Plyometrics
Strength Training 

Option 2
Warm up 
Low Intensity Skill Training 
Metabolic Conditioning

Option 3
Warm up
Low Intensity Skill Training
Gymnastics Static / Dynamic Strength 

Option 4
Warm up
Low Intensity Skill Training
Gymnastics Static / Dynamic Strength

Option 5
Warm up
Gymnastics Class 

The reason for the skill training being placed directly after the warm up is because this is when your nervous system is freshest. If you’re progressing through a technical movement or hold you do not want to be attempting to reinforce the motor pattern after you’ve exhausted yourself. Fresh is best. Low intensity is important, too. From the resources I have found, it has been suggested that if you use a high intensity before your main work begins, you’re at risk of fatiguing key muscles that you’re going to need for proper progression later. A lower intensity progression is a wiser move as it allows you to still reinforce a position without it tiring out stabiliser muscles too early.

Also, with so many considerations to include in a session, time management is key. Throwing the skills in early as part of an extended warm up, each and every time I train, means I’m getting in the mileage without realising. Productivity!

So how does this all fit in to a week’s schedule? That’s the next post…

Gant Grimes Hybrid Crossfit PDF
Greg Everett – Olympic Weightlifting
Christopher Sommer – Foundation 1 and 2
Eric Cressey – Show and Go

Harry Cloudfoot is a slackline instructor and stunt performer based in London. You can follow him on Twitter or read his other Cloudfoot Diaries here.