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Men’s Artistic Gymnastics


A History Lesson

 From Bovine Beginnings
Gymnastics can trace its origins back to ancient civilizations in Asia and the  Middle East. These men and women sought perfect symmetry between the  mind and the body through gymnastics exercises. Around 2,700 B.C. ancient  Greeks would vault over the backs of charging bulls. The athlete would run  toward the bull, grab its horns, and when tossed in the air, would perform  aerial movements before landing on the bull’s back and then dismounting  onto his or her feet on the other side of the bull. A great deal of courage,  grace and maybe even a bit of foolishness was required. Most gymnasts are  probably glad that modern gymnastics is bull-free.
The Origins of "Artistic"
The term "artistic gymnastics" was first heard around the early 1800’s as a way to distinguish free-flowing gymnastics styles from military training techniques. Gymnastics began to grow in popularity at schools and athletics clubs across Europe. As the oldest form of modern gymnastics, men’s artistic was first introduced to competition when the Olympics were revived at the 1896 Athens Olympics. In 1954, enormous changes to the sport saw the introduction of events like the floor exercise, pommel horse, vault, rings, high bar and parallel bars. These 6 apparatus’ now form what has become one of the most popular sports on the planet.

6 Events; 6 Times the Challenge

Think hockey is tough? Try mastering 6 pieces of equipment. Each piece is different, but they all take a combination of coordination, endurance, flexibility, speed and strength. Two words to describe an elite male gymnast: hard work!
The 6 events are the floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.

Floor Exercise:

Athletes perform a series of acrobatics and tumbling sequences across a 12x12 area. A routine can involve somersaults, twists and flips. Each movement demonstrates strength, flexibility and balance. Touches of personal elements lets each gymnast show off his individual strength. The floor may be flat, but the routines sure aren’t.

Pommel Horse:

This event is one of hardest pieces of men’s apparatus to master. We’re not horsing around. An athlete performs circular and pendulous swings with straight legs, all while holding himself up right. The athlete will often travel along the horse, to utilize every part of the equipment. This event takes strength, flexibility and balance. Could you do it?


Held aloft at 2.80 metres, the rings require excellent control, strength, balance and body tension. At that height there is little room for error. The rings are free-moving, making it hard for the athlete to remain still during hold elements. The dismount is the gymnast’s chance to show off his aerial skills. Feeling dizzy?


In this event, a 25 metre run leads to an explosive jump off a springboard, where the athlete launches over the vaulting table. While in flight, the athlete performs multiple twists and rotations before sticking a solid landing. It takes control, stability, strength and aerial ability to master this high-flying sequence.

Parallel Bars:

Loved the swings as a kid? How about swinging on, across and between two bars? These bars stand 2 metres from the floor and give under the athlete’s weight, allowing for a combination of swings, somersaults and twists. The dismount is always an eye-popper. This event takes strength, control and a strong stomach. That much flipping is dizzying stuff.

Horizontal Bar:

You know this event is intense if one of the moves is called giant. This single bar stands 2.75 metres from the floor which allows athletes to perform multiple swinging circles, releases and catches, and dismounts that defy the imagination. A gymnast must not touch the bar with his body. You need strength, body control and aerial mastery to swing your way to victory.

Ortona’s Programs

The Men’s Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) program is a competitive program that is divided into 6 levels. Each level is based on Gymnastics Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) framework. LTAD ensures the optimal development for gymnasts of all ages, interests and abilities and in all gymnastics disciplines and helps every athlete reach their full potential. 

Aspiring gymnasts enter the program between the ages of 6 and 8. At the lower levels of the program athletes learn the basics of MAG, and as they move forward they are taught the skills needed to compete at each level. The higher the level, the harder the elements and skills.
Athletes who excel at an earlier age are able to go into the high performance stream which consists of higher difficulty skills and routines. These athletes can eventually be named to the National team.
The MAG competitive program runs all year. Lower level athletes train between 6 to 12 hours a week, while the higher level athletes train between 16 to 24 hours a week.
Each of the 6 levels correspond to the LTAD program established by Gymnastics Canada.
Level 1: Active Start
Level 1 is an introduction to Men’s Artistic Gymnastics competition and to the basics of using all 6 of the men’s apparatuses: the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Athletes are taught basic rolls, develop their strength, agility and balance, and learn proper safety techniques.
Level 2: Fun, Fitness, and Fundamental Movement Patterns
At this level, the athletes continue to develop their skills on each of the 6 apparatuses. They develop their physical capabilities including their strength, core strength, flexibility and balance. Basic handstands and swings are also introduced.
Level 3: Building the Skills of Gymnastics
Level 3 focuses on further developing strength, balance, coordination and body symmetry and flexibility. The athletes develop balance skills and learn swinging techniques and strength maneuvers.
Level 4: Specialization in a Gym Discipline
At this level the athletes will have firmly established all key gymnastics skills. Spatial orientation, speed, flexibility and endurance will continue to be trained. Challenging skills for each apparatus will begin to be developed. Developing routines for competitions is also important at this level.
Level 5: Becoming a Consistent Competitor
By now an athlete’s passion will be his driving motivator as he continues to develop the challenging techniques for each apparatus and focuses on building routines for provincial, national and international levels.
Level 6: Winning at all Levels
At the final level of the MAG program, athletes can do everything from double to triple saltos, travels up and down the pommel, iron crosses on rings and high flying releases on the high bar. The athletes have learned the skills they need to compete and excel at provincial, national and international levels.


Interested in the Program?
These programs are invitation only. We also host Tryout dates throughout the year, check out our website for upcoming dates. You can also Request an Assessment.