The Unique New Workout Style That Combines Gymnastics and Weight Training

In this special two-part series, I’m going to outline an  approach to getting a strong and shredded body using these hybrid gymnastics training techniques, along with my own addition of some high intensity intervals for athletes and exercisers who a bit more of a cardio component.

Ben Greenfield
7-minute read
Episode #334

Almost every gymnast I have ever met got started in gymnastics because they were climbing the walls as a kid.  You have never seen a happier kid than I was while sprinting to the monkey bars during recess in elementary school.  And, it didn’t stop at school.  When I yanked the chandelier out of the ceiling at home, my mom decided it was time to put me in gymnastics. 

The sport and practice of gymnastics is really just one giant obstacle course.

After 2 decades of hard work, I perfected those “monkey bars.”  So when Ben Greenfield asked me to help him put together a Spartan Race training plan that incorporated body weight and the type of high intensity gymnastic training I introduced to him in the article "How To Get A Strong and Shredded Body With Just Two Gymnastics-Style Workouts Per Week", I was excited to help.

This makes perfect sense because the sport and practice of gymnastics is really just one giant obstacle course.  The only caveat is this: gymnasts have to make it look really easy and artistic.  I believe using an obstacle course training program that includes gymnastics strength elements will prepare you for the rigours of the many types of obstacles you will encounter during a Spartan Race.  Armed with the conditioning these gymnastics exercises will give, you can navigate your Spartan Race obstacles with greater ease, and dare I say…artistically. And, let's face it: it's a great change-up from the ho-hum, standard obstacle course training you might currently be doing.


My recommended gymnastics core exercises will strengthen your torso, connect the muscles of your upper and lower body, and allow you to coordinate your obstacle course movements with more precision, balance, and stability.  You will be able to pull with an arm and push with a leg as one cohesive unit.  You will also be able to extend your body to reach without collapsing in your midsection.  With a strong core, all of your movements will improve, and you'll look a whole heckuva lot less like Bambi on ice during your obstacle course training.

Straight Body Hold Between Mats 


Olga Crunch

L Sit Drills


Using this training, you will spend time doing inversion exercises where you are bearing most of your weight on your hands.  This is where gymnastics training really opens up new possibilities for manipulating your weight.  You will be able to lever your feet from one point to another while holding your weight with your upper body.  You will also be able to crawl more efficiently and hurl your body over objects.   Being comfortable and strong on your hands will give you another gear in the race. Can you say "barb wire crawl" like Flash the superhero? Yeah, I thought so. This will do that for you.

Planch Walk with Sliders (or with paper plates)

Crab Walk with Sliders (or with paper plates)

10 Press First Half Drills - Press Compression slider assist (1 min to end of video)

Press Ball Assist

Max Time Wall Handstand


Without question, you must have the ability to pull yourself up and over certain obstacles.  In my opinion, there is no better exercise for this than mastering the ring Muscle Up. You might already know this, but the Muscle Up is a combination of a pull up and a dip exercise.  What it really gives you is the ability to pull up and distribute your weight onto your hands so you can push down...just like pulling yourself out of the water on the edge of a swimming pool, or pulling yourself over an 8, 10 or 12 foot wall.  If you can master that tricky part of manipulating your weight from pulling up to pushing down, you can really gain an advantage to climbing over just about anything.

Muscle Up Thera Band Assist

Pulling Shoulder Exercise

Grip Strength Exercise

"Russian" Climb Technique & Demo from Andrea Murray, a professional Aerialist. You can check out her work on Instagram @andre_amichelle.

A close-up breakdown of the "Russian" Climb

Bonus: A Combination climb showcasing efficiency & energy conservation capacity at work!

Full Extension Eccentric Rope Exercise



About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.