What is a Gainer?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2020
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A gainer is a move in acrobatics where a person executes a backflip while still propelling the body in a forwards direction. Gainers can be visually dynamic moves in an acrobatics routine, and they are a common component of floorwork. In addition to being used in acrobatics, similar moves can also be seen in martial arts, acrobatic dance, and similar movement disciplines. Doing this move requires some practice and a reasonable degree of physical fitness.

In this move, an acrobat executes a backward somersault. The move may be done from a standing position or it may flow from another movement. An advantage of using a running start or executing a gainer immediately after another move is the added momentum. Having momentum by already being in motion makes the move easier and somewhat safer to perform, and executing a series of moves in a flow can look more visually interesting. Gainers performed from a standing position can be seen in some martial arts, where the move is used to generate energy for a kick.


This type of flip can also be done on a balance beam by gymnasts. Work on a balance beam requires a high degree of physical and spatial awareness, as the narrowness of the beam can put an athlete at risk of falls and injuries if a move is landed incorrectly. People learning this move usually start on a gymnastics mat for safety before trying it on the balance beam. Using adequate safety protection while training and performing is strongly recommended to prevent head injuries, fractures, and other potential injuries associated with high-energy sports like acrobatics.

It is very important to warm up thoroughly before performing a gainer. The gainer is very hard on the neck and back and can cause whiplash injuries unless an athlete has warmed up and stretched the muscles. Many acrobatics routines include some warm ups to get the athlete ready for more demanding moves, and people also typically stretch and warm up before moving out onto the mat, for additional safety.

People can learn how to do a gainer in gymnastics and acrobatics classes, along with other moves and variations on basic gymnastics moves. It is also possible to learn from books and instructional videos. One advantage to taking classes is access to a qualified instructor who can provide pointers on form. People teaching themselves may want to consider videotaping their routines to monitor their form, as bad form can expose people to the risk of injury.


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