The phases of a gymnastics program are the progressive stages of a gymnast's training routine. These phases are warming up, flexibility training, strength training and skill training. For female gymnasts, the study of dance is often incorporated into the training program.
All gymnastic workouts should begin with a warmup routine. Before advancing to stretches, gymnasts of the United States National Team jump rope or run in place for 5 minutes. They then perform a variety of head and wrist rolls, arm swings, shoulder circles and other movements that loosen the muscles and joints. During the flexibility phase, gymnasts stretch their hamstrings, quads and other muscles, and they practice their splits and back bridges. Strength-training exercises focus on developing lean, strong muscles. Crunches and V-ups work the abdominal muscles, while squats and jumps build leg strength. Even the fingers and the toes must be strengthened for bar and balance beam work. Only after working on strength and flexibility do gymnasts begin practicing their skills. Men train for vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar, pommel horse, still rings and floor exercises. Women train for vault, balance beam, floor exercises and uneven bars. Dance training is considered valuable for female gymnasts. Not only does it help improve grace and balance, but it is also an integral part of the women's floor exercise and balance beam routines.