Gymnastics Poses – A Complete List

Gymnastics poses, also referred to as holds a fair amount of the time, are positions that must be held for a couple of seconds during the routine before you move on to the next skill. While these can be more or less difficult to properly hold, they can provide a much needed moment for the gymnast to collect her thoughts as she mentally prepares to go to the next part of her routine.

Some of these poses are much more common, while others are ones that are rarely used as anything more than as a part of a gymnast’s training. If the pose happens to be on one leg, this is called a scale. There are many different types of scale positions based on where your hands are and what position your other leg is in.


Most people at least know the basic idea of how a handstand is done, whether or not they can actually do one themselves. However, the handstands are judged very strictly and your whole body must be perfectly in a straight line, with your toes pointing directly towards the ceiling, and without any backward arch to them or to your back.

Some amount of arch is acceptable when you are doing a handstand as part of a series of movements, since this arch will give you more control. However, when you are doing this as a pose you may not have any arch at all.

Cross Handstand

This is a pose that is solely for the balance beam and that is actually identical with a regular handstand. The main difference with this one is that instead of placing your hands side by side on length of the beam so that your shoulders are parallel with the beam, you instead place both of your hands on the width of the beam so that your shoulders are crosswise to the beam.

One Armed Handstand

Like you might guess just from reading the name, one of the poses that you can do in gymnastics is a handstand on only one arm. When you are doing this your free arm is either held out horizontally or it is placed and held up against the side of your torso. Either way, it should not sway or swing at all if you are using this as a pose.

Handstand Split

This one is also self-explanatory, and if you can do the splits easily it can be even easier to do than a regular handstand since you do not have to be perfectly straight with your whole body. These splits can be either a side split or a forward split. You can even do this with one hand if you are balanced enough.

Stag Split Handstand

For a stag split handstand you first get into a handstand position. Then one leg goes straight back as though you are doing the full splits and the top part of the other leg points straight forward so that it has the right angle for the splits, however it is bent back at the knee with the foot pointing back and up diagonally in the stag position.

A stag split handstand can also be done with a diagonal angle to it. In order to do this the back leg goes further back pointing a little down instead of being horizontal with the front leg keeping itself at the 180 degree necessary for a complete split at the top part of the leg.

Double Stag Handstand

Like the stag split handstand, you first start off in a handstand position. Instead of either leg being straight, however, there is no attempt at a split here at all. The position that the back leg should take is that the top part of the back leg points back and up, bends at the knee, and the bottom part of the leg then points down and back, making an upside down V that ends with the foot being at the same level as the hips.

The position for the front leg is that it should point forward and up, but here the lower part of the leg and the foot should point back and up diagonally. The calf of your forward leg should be perfectly parallel to the thigh of your back leg if you are doing this right.


This is a pose that looks the same as the handstand and requires the same perfectly straight form. But this variation of the handstand involves resting most of your weight on the top part of your head instead of on straight arms. While you are doing this your arms are to the sides and bent at the elbows at a 90 degree angle so that your hands are palms down on the floor and helping to support your weight as much as they can.

This is not one that is done often for two main reasons, one of which is that it tends to strain the neck muscles a bit. The other reason why you don’t see this one often is because handstands are much more popular and are needed for so many other things that a gymnast will often find the handstand simply easier to do.

Halfway Handstand

While this name might puzzle some into wondering how you can do only half of a handstand, this is easiest to explain by describing the common process that you use to get into a handstand most of the time. When you are going from standing straight up on your feet into a handstand, the first thing that you do is you place both hands on the floor in front of you with on leg going up and pointing towards the ceiling which should give your body the exact shape on an upside down Y.

To continue going into a handstand you would then kick your remaining leg up into the air without pausing so that you had a little bit of momentum. However, for a halfway handstand you do not do this last part and instead you stay in the upside down Y shape.

Elbow Stand

This variation of a handstand is done on your elbows with only your elbows to your hands touching the ground and your hands being using to help with your balance. Your forearms should be parallel to each other on the floor. This is great in that it reduces the strain on your wrists without putting any of your weight on your head and this makes this pose a great way to practice holding your body perfectly vertical.

You can do any of the other variations to this form of a handstand that you can do with a regular handstand, and you can even do a backbend while on your elbows like this, though this is very difficult to do. But the hardest variation of the elbow stand is to bend your body back like a backbend but then instead of landing on your feet you bend your knees and land on your knees with your feet pointing towards your elbows.

One Legged Wheel

This is a fairly rare gymnastics pose that is actually also a yoga pose. In some ways it has a lot in common with a backbend, but in order to really do this you have to start in an elbow stand and then bend over to do a backbend, which is much more difficult to do. Your foot should be flat on the ground with your other leg straight up in the air.


A candlestick position is one that looks very simple and is easy to spot, however actually doing it requires a lot of strength. In order to do this you usually start flat on the floor with your arms at your sides and your legs pressed together.

Then you lift your legs in the air, starting with your feet and going up until even your hips are in the air. Keep going even after that until your back is pointing towards the ceiling and the whole lower part of your body is directly above your shoulders and pointing straight up. Your arms may be used for support, but there should be no wavering to either side and the same strict straightness must be held.

Broken Candlestick

A broken candlestick is a variation of the candlestick which can actually be easier to do depending on how flexible you are. You start off in the same position as you do for a regular candlestick, and from there you start out the same way by raising the whole lower part of your body straight into the air the same as well.

Here is where the two differ, because for a broken candlestick you keep moving your legs up towards your head after they reach the vertical point. Your arms are also straight on the ground with your palms pressing on the ground to help you with this. Your legs remain together and go up all the way to the point where your feet are touching the floor above your head.

Ankle Hold

Somewhat similar to the arabesque, the ankle hold has some of the main positions. Standing on one leg, the torso goes forward and down slightly with the arm on the same side of the foot you are on stretching forward so as to be perfectly horizontal. Meanwhile, the back leg swings back and is for this position grasped at the ankle at around head-height with the arm on that side forming a loop with your body.


This is another simple one to hold for just a moment. With your body facing the ground, you should get into a position where only your toes and your hands are supporting all of your weight. The rest of your body should be rigidly straight and your arms should be perfectly straight as well. This is sometimes called the front support position for the floor or the balance beam routines.

Side Plank

A side plank is used more often as a pose. Your body still stays perfectly rigid for this one, however you are not facing the ground, nor are you on your toes. Instead you are supposed to face to one side with your whole body and have all of your weight on the side of the lower foot and on one hand.

The arm you are on should not only be straight, but your shoulders should be straight above it all the way through your other arm which should be pointing towards the ceiling.

Front Splits

Front splits have a few other names that they can be called by, a couple of which are stride splits with Hanumanasana being the name for this when it comes to yoga positions. For this kind of a split one leg goes forward while the other one goes directly behind you.

When you can do this properly you should be sitting on the floor with your legs like in this position. Since there is not a particular position that your hands have to be in for this pose, you can do any number of things such as making a Y with your arms, frame your face, or something similar if you are using this as the final or beginning pose of your routine.

Side Splits

Side splits are usually what people think of when they think of doing the splits, with the legs stretched out to the sides. This one also has a few other names, a couple of which are straddle splits with Samakonasana being the yoga name for this position.

However, though this one does tend to be more common, it is actually harder on the hips to do since it places then in an unnatural position. To help with this you should try to tilt your hips forward some in order to help your hips when you do this.

Standing Side Split

For this version of a split you start from a standing up position and the lower your torso to horizontal while you lift one of your legs high into the air. Your torso should be facing one side and not the ground and you should lift your leg to vertical without help from your hands which stay by your torso as you move to the horizontal. This is one pose that you can do an over-split in if you are capable of doing an over-split.

Needle Scale

A needle scale is one of the scale positions just as the last option was, and it also features a complete split as well. In order to do this one you swing your torso all the way down to where it is touching your stationary leg which is straight down and supporting your weight while your other leg goes straight up in the air. Your hands can either be holding the ankle of your lower leg or may rest on the floor for this position.


There are varying degrees of an arabesque which differ according to where your hands are and where your back leg is. When you are first starting out, your back leg should make no less than a 45 degree angle behind you with the leg that you are standing on and your torso should be held as straight as possible.

As you progress however, your back leg should be able to go all the way back to horizontal with still only a slight leaning of your torso forward. Finally, another option for this type of a scale is to have your back leg go all the way up to a split.

Sometimes the arms are both held back and up, or they can be held to the sides, but another option is that one can be held back with the other held forward in a dance pose. Meanwhile, the foot that you are balancing on can have a few different positions as well. It can be flat on the ground, on toe, or on point.


This pose is an extremely difficult one to do and one that requires a lot of strength even to get into it, much more to hold it. It is very similar to the broken candlestick position, only with this one you are supporting your whole body with just your hands while you do it. You start with the palms of your hands on the floor beside you with your torso facing up and your elbows straight supporting the weight of the upper part of your body.

Raise your legs up in a straddle position to the sides, keeping your legs straight at the knees, and keep lifting until your hips are up off of the floor as well, putting all of your weight on your two hands. When your hips are close to same height of your shoulders your legs should come together and be pressed together as they move up over your head.

To finish getting into this pose fully, your hips should end with being higher than your shoulders and your legs should be horizontal with your knees touching your face.

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