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 as 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.

  • 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
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 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
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


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.


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.

  • 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
    Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 10:45
  • 2
    Sorry, didn't meant to be rude, but you are right. I added some personal thoughts on the book to my answer. Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 11:36

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.

  • 1
    It's also relatively expensive, and has a lot of references to looking up details in his other books... which he never published. Instead, he seems to have shifted to selling courses that cover much of the same background (gymnasticbodies.com)
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.