“If the best in the world are stretching their ass off in order to get strong, why aren’t you?” – Christopher Sommer
My guest this episode is Christopher Sommer (GymnasticBodies on Instagram/Facebook), former US national team gymnastics coach. He is also the founder of GymnasticBodies, a training system that I’m currently testing (and have no affiliation with). As a world-renowned Olympic coach, Sommer is known for building his students into some of the strongest, most powerful athletes in the world.
During his extensive 40-year coaching career, Coach Sommer took meticulous notes on his training techniques—his wins and failures—so that he could translate the best elements into a superior exercise system for both high-level and beginner athletes. His four decades of careful observation led to the birth of Gymnastics Strength Training™ (or GST).
In this episode, we cover A TON, including:
- The 3-5 exercises everyone should be doing (you’ve never heard of some of them)
- His opinions of kipping exercises, such as the kipping pull-ups common in CrossFit
- What bodyweight goals non-gymnasts should target
- Which exercises to remove from the gym entirely, at least in the first 6-12 months of training
- How to optimize biceps strength and mass with straight-arm work
- And much, much more…
I also asked Coach Sommer to gather some interesting stuff (samples, videos, etc.) at gymnasticbodies.com/tim, so take a gander. I don’t get any compensation for any of it; I just want people to consider more bodyweight training. I’ve found it revelatory and mind-expanding.
If you want some quick training tips, here are Coach Sommer’s mobility movements that will increase strength.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast on fitness and training from a world-class coach? — Listen to my conversation with Pavel Tsatsouline. In this episode, we discuss the science of strength and the art of physical performance (stream below or right-click here to download):
This episode is brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.
This episode is also brought to you by Exo Protein. These guys are making protein bars using cricket protein powder. Before you look disgusted, I bet they taste better than any protein bar you’ve ever had before! With recipes that were developed by a three-Michelin-star chef, the bars are paleo-friendly, with no gluten, no grains, no soy, no dairy, and they won’t spike your glycemic response. In fact, they’re less processed than any other protein bars you’ll be able to find.
Exo Protein is offering a deep discount to Tim Ferriss Show listeners — if you go to ExoProtein.com/Tim, you can try a sampler pack with all of the most popular flavors for less than $10. This is a startup with limited inventory that sells out all the time, so act fast!
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Which of Coach Sommer’s tips or exercises would you like to learn more about? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Coach Sommer: GymnasticBodies.com | Instagram |Facebook
- Learn more about Paradiso CrossFit
- Learn more about Awaken Adult Gymnastics in Denver, Colorado
- Listen to my conversation with Amelia Boone
- Watch Allan Bower on the still rings
- Learn more about Forma GST in the UK
- Learn more about Robb Wolf
- Listen to my interview with Paul Levesque (AKA Triple H)
- Listen to my podcast with Tony Robbins
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
- The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Learn more about probiotics: Klaire probiotics | VSL3
- How to define Gymnastics Strength Training™ (GST) [7:54]
- Types of strength that most non-gymnasts will not have [12:55]
- Biggest mistakes made by those who self-teach handstands [16:30]
- Top exercises for identifying weaknesses in strength and mobility [22:12]
- The problem of focusing on muscular fatigue when training [35:07]
- What is a pike pulse and why does it matter [44:26]
- On kipping pull-ups [46:19]
- Identifying solutions to pain [54:08]
- The Jefferson curl [58:27]
- Why weighted mobility work needs to be approached with a different level of intensity than conditioning work [1:03:31]
- If someone is 35-years-old, a former athlete and never done gymnastics, what’s a good exercise and what should be avoided? [1:09:04]
- 3-5 joint mobility exercises for getting strong [1:14:52]
- Preferred way to work on shoulder extension [1:21:37]
- A good goal for those seeking to improve mobility [1:27:30]
- Yoga handstands vs gymnastics handstands (aesthetics vs. gold medals) [1:30:34]
- Who are some of the coaches who have impressed you the most? [1:37:39]
- The story of Dmitry Bilozerchev and Alexander Alexandrov [1:38:01]
- Differentiating immature athletes and mature athletes [1:47:05]
- Training for success [1:50:34]
- Describing the systematic approach to gymnastics strength training [1:53:41]
- What exercises to avoid for the first 6 months of GST [2:02:11]
- Breaking down the muscle-up [2:05:34]
- Understanding the purpose of using various grips [2:10:27]
- How do you mentally prep your athletes for a big competition? [2:18:49]
- What questions would Coach Sommer ask a gymnastic coach before sending his/her children off to train with them [2:29:38]
- What questions would Coach Sommer ask a gymnastic coach who trains adults? [2:34:24]
- Balancing stretching and training time [2:37:19]
- When you think of the word successful, who is the first person to come to mind and why? [2:42:36]
- Most gifted books [2:48:56]
- Morning rituals [2:52:05]
- What would you put on a billboard? [2:56:41]
- An ask or a request for the audience [3:02:41]
- Greg Glassman
- Allan Bower
- Dmitry Klokov
- Dmitry Bilozerchev
- Ivan Ivankov
- Tony Robbins
- Yuri van Gelder
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.