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I want to learn gymnastics: handstands, pike, planche, bridge, etc. There's a tiny gymnastics group in my town, but my schedule won't let me train with them. I can use their equipment needed, though.

What would be a good choice of book or site for helping me learn gymnastics? I want thorough instructions, form tips and suggested progressions.

To clarify: I'll be able to have people check my form etc now and then, but not as often as I'd like, so I'm going to do most learning by myself. I'm 21 years old and quite fit. I can handstand for a couple of seconds on most tries.

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Dave's suggestion is good, although the book referenced is more of a bodybuilding for gymnasts approach. I don't know of any "teach yourself" type books, as gymnastics is dangerous enough that you need good instruction and a spotter to learn many of the techniques. It might help a bit if you outlined WHY you want to learn gymnastics. For example, if you wanted to do parkour, that's a different subset than learning straight out gymnastics, as would be learning various "tricks" in extreme martial arts. –  JohnP Sep 10 '12 at 15:13
    
I want to learn the above because it would be cool. I don't have any other sport that I expect it to transfer to (yet). I intend to join a gymnastics group as soon as I can, which will probably be after next summer. The time until then, I'd like to spend learning some holds so as not to waste time. Of course, I'll wait with somersaults etc until I have proper supervision. –  Adam Sep 10 '12 at 15:56
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2 Answers

Building the Gymnastic Body by Coach Sommer is good, but I consider it fairly advanced. For a beginner like me, who isn't devoting all their strength work to gymnastics, it was a bit much. You could probably get a lot out of it.

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Take a look at the book "Overcoming Gravity" by Steven Low, which is by far the best Gymnastics book known to me. I suggest reading the Amazon reviews for more details.

EDIT:

What I personally like about this book: Many books on strength training tell you how to train, but not why to train this way. This book goes into detail with all the relevant topics -- what kinds of motor units/muscle fibers there are and how they respond/adapt to various kinds of stresses, the neurological components of strength. It explains how to create your own routine that fits exactly your current skill and fitness level, including skill work, stretching, and strength training. It explains basics of programming and how to deal with plateaus (->periodization). It has a huge chapter on injury prevention and health management. Then it has a large collection of exercises, from basic pullups and Wall Handstands to more advanced stuff like planches, iron crosses, mannas and so on. Exercises are structured in groups, and the author provides progression charts for each group.

The cons: This book is only about the upper body (which is what gymnasts mainly care about). And an index is missing for looking things up.

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It would be best if you could describe why it is the best book for you. Just telling someone to read amazon reviews is a bit rude (basically in the line of google yourself). Reviews always have the disadvantage that you don't know the reviewers, of course you don't know people here on StackExchange, too, but at least we have reputation… and cookies. –  Baarn Dec 9 '12 at 10:45
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Sorry, didn't meant to be rude, but you are right. I added some personal thoughts on the book to my answer. –  zero-divisor Dec 9 '12 at 11:36
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