In the season one premiere, Payson Keeler (Ayla Kell), Kaylie Cruz (Josie Loren), and Lauren Tanner (Cassie Scerbo) are elite-level gymnasts. They train at one of the best gyms in the country, the fictional "Rocky Mountain Gymnastics Training Center" (or "The Rock") in Boulder, Colorado, in hopes of winning gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The girls have been best friends and teammates for years. They are joined by newcomer Emily Kmetko (Chelsea Hobbs), an untrained gymnastics phenomenon plucked from obscurity. It is revealed that Emily's family is struggling for money, and she has to work at Pizza Shack to keep them afloat, and receives scholarship money to do gymnastics. The Rock's Athletes compete for places on the club's team for nationals. Emily ranks third ahead of Lauren, despite Lauren's attempt to sabotage her vault.
The girls' futures are thrown into turmoil when their head coach, Marty Walsh (Erik Palladino), is blackmailed out of his job at The Rock by Lauren's father Steve, who is angry that his daughter was beaten by Emily. Marty is forced to move to The Rock's rival gym in Denver, taking Lauren and other gymnasts with him. It is revealed later that Kaylie's mother (Rosa Blasi) and Marty were having an affair, and he left to keep the secret from being exposed. After a visit from an angry Payson (who is joined by Kaylie, Emily and her sister Becca), Marty tells Steve he is in charge from now on and will do things his way. Steve then goes in search of Sasha Belov, the only gymnast to have beaten Marty Walsh to an Olympic gold medal. Belov tells Tanner he isn't interested because Steve split up what could have been the greatest team in US history when he took Lauren to Denver. Steve and Lauren then return to the rock accompanied by Sasha.
While Payson appreciates Sasha's experience and drive, the other girls chafe at his demanding style. Kaylie and Emily decide to go to a party before Sasha's new regime is put in place. Payson agrees to go as a chaperone. At the party Emily meets Razor, a coworker from the pizza shack, and a drunk Kaylie is seen by her secret boyfriend Carter having told him she couldn't go out because her Dad wouldn't let her. Meanwhile, Lauren abandons her birthday meal with her father, after he brings his executive assistant (and girlfriend) Summer. She goes to the party and comforts Carter. The two sleep together, but it clearly doesn't mean as much to Carter as it does to Lauren. Throughout the season, Emily tries to hide the fact she has to work to support her family, fearing this news could jeopardize her scholarship. However, she is forced to confess this to the other girls while they are cleaning mats as punishment for going to the party. They help her climb out the window to get to work in time to avoid being fired. Kaylie hides her relationship with Carter Anderson, another gymnast at The Rock. Lauren is hiding the fact that she has lost her virginity to Carter from Kaylie, while trying to get him to go out with her instead and struggling to fight the feeling that Summer is trying to replace her mother or is after her father's money. Payson has back problems and tries to conceal this from her parents and Sasha because she is desperate not to lose her chance to become National Champion and beat her rival, Kelly Parker (Nicole Gale Anderson) in a pre-nationals club meet between The Denver Elite and The Rock. While Payson manages to beat Kelly, Emily attempts a more difficult dismount on bars than the one Sasha told her to do and falls. She is banned from competing at nationals and suspended from the rock. Damon, a friend of Razors who is covering his shifts at the Pizza Shack helps Emily break in to the gym at night to perfect the move and prove herself to Sasha. However, she isn't allowed back until she get over her trust issues and lets Sasha help her. Lauren warms up to Summer who convinces Steve to give Lauren her mother's contact details so she can come to watch her at nationals. Lauren goes to the bus stop but her mother Leslie never arrives. Later at nationals Summer realizes that Steve threatened Leslie into not coming and their argument results in a break-up. Before nationals, Carter confesses to Kaylie that he cheated. She disappears, but Emily, Lauren and Payson find her at gymnastics camp. Lauren reveals it was her who slept with Carter, but eventually all the girls put aside their differences and return to Boulder in time to leave for nationals. Payson is favorite to win but after a fall on the uneven bars, she fractures her spine and is told she can never do gymnastics again. Kaylie receives the title of National Champion, beating Kelly Parker. Lauren places fifth and Emily places twelfth, meaning that all three receive spots on the National Team.
As season one resumes, Payson deals with what seems to be the end of her gymnastics career and dreams. Summer and Sasha begin a relationship, and Emily and Payson get closer. Payson undergoes cutting-edge surgery to fix her spine. Although the operation is successful, she does not want to return to gymnastics, fearing she will re-injure herself. Meanwhile, the three Rock girls find an enemy in the head of the National Gymnastics Committee, Ellen Beals (Michelle Clunie), who prizes obedience to her authority and feels threatened by The Rock girls' independence. Emily wrestles with her desire to be an Olympic gymnast and her love for Damon, a co-worker at The Pizza Shack where she works. Carter is allowed back in The Rock and finds support from Lauren after she learns he is living in his car, having been kicked out of the home by his father, who does not support his gymnastics career. Payson's father is laid off from his job and has to accept another one far from Boulder.
Payson's mother, Kim (Peri Gilpin) takes over managing The Rock, as the girls are shut out of the National Team. Kaylie and Emily are kept back from a USA vs. China meet. To get The Rock girls recognized as being international standard, The Rock holds a private meet between them and the Chinese National Team. Ellen Beals pressures Kaylie not to compete, telling her she might lose and damage her profile. Ellen also blackmails Emily, telling her if she competes she will have her scholarship revoked after Ellen finds out about Emily's job at the Pizza Shack. Working together, the girls get five medals, more than the U.S. National Team got in Beijing.
In the second season, the girls are joined at The Rock by superstar male gymnast Austin Tucker (Zane Holtz). Payson refuses to accept her body has changed since her injury and is encouraged to petition to the National Team by Ellen Beals against the advice of Sasha, who thinks she is not ready. Her petition is denied, and she is heartbroken until Sasha convinces her to return, hoping to revitalize her career by transitioning her into being an artistic gymnast. Payson, whose previous style emphasized power over grace, is skeptical but comes around and finds herself romantically attracted to Sasha. She impulsively kisses him, but he pushes her away. The Kmetko family struggles financially with the loss of Emily's scholarship, until Steve Tanner secretly organizes a private scholarship to fund her training, after beginning a relationship with Chloe. When Emily finds out where the money is coming from, she refuses to accept the charity. Chloe secretly begins work as a bartender in a strip club. Emily's brother begins to have seizures because his prescription has not been refilled. Discovering problems with their insurance and not having money to pay for the medication, Emily steals the medication and is arrested.
Lauren finds the tape of Sasha and Payson's kiss in the practice camera. In an effort to get rid of Sasha and have Summer get back with her father, she leaks the first part (showing only the kiss) to Ellen Beals and deletes the later part (showing Sasha pushing Payson away). This results in Sasha being dismissed and Steve Tanner becoming president of The Rock. Summer is behind Sasha and does not believe he would act inappropriately. Sasha and Summer break up because though Sasha respects Summer's values, he does not share them. Newly minted national champion Kaylie struggles with the demands of her position and develops an eating disorder. Her parents refuse to believe it, but Austin tries to convince Kaylie that she needs help. In the midseason finale, the girls compete at trials for the World Championships. Payson confronts the gymnastics committee, asking them to accept her as an artistic gymnast. Police arrive to take Emily away, as she has missed her court hearing. Kaylie collapses while competing and is rushed to the hospital. All four girls make the Worlds team.
When Season Two returns, the girls cope with the loss of Sasha Belov. After breaking down, Kaylie admits to having an eating disorder and seeks treatment. Austin supports her, and they begin a relationship. Emily is forced to wear an ankle monitor due to her probation after being caught stealing. The other girls train for the World Gymnastics Competition, a task made harder by the presence of their arch enemy, Kelly Parker, at The Rock. Sasha returns after the girls track him down in Romania, and Lauren starts to like him better as he begins coaching her directly. While in recovery, Kaylie offers her mother's old recording studio to Emily's boyfriend Damon, who has been struggling to make an album in order to impress his new record label.
After Emily witnesses Kaylie and Damon singing together at the Pizza Shack, she imagines Damon is unfaithful and breaks up with him. Emily learns that she is pregnant, and Damon is the father. After members of the NGO try to persuade her to have an abortion, she insists that they have controlled her life for too long. She ignores their suggestion, and she keeps the baby. After informing Damon of the baby, she insists that being teen parents together will be perfect. Emily returns immediately to pack but is interrupted by Kaylie. Kaylie tells her that after Damon and Emily broke up, Damon kissed Kaylie. Feeling betrayed, Emily leaves to live with her godmother in Las Vegas without telling Damon. Eventually, Damon finds Emily and decides to be there for her.
Summer and Steve Tanner become engaged. A new gymnast, Max (Josh Bowman), comes to The Rock, attracting the attention of Lauren and Payson. Though Max seems more interested in Payson, she is more focused on her dream. Lauren pursues him past the point of ridiculousness. She assures Payson that Max is her new boyfriend; Max denies this. Max, Austin, and Payson help Kaylie train in secret, as they try to convince Sasha that Kaylie is ready to compete at Worlds. In the wake of Emily's departure, Kelly Parker becomes closer to Kaylie, despite the scheming of her stage mother, Sheila (Kathy Najimy). Kaylie offers her comfort as Kelly's mom is only supportive of Kelly's fame and fortune. Kelly steals Kaylie's journal and is instructed by her mother to give it to Ellen Beals. The night before Worlds, Kelly returns the journal and admits to stealing it. This causes Kaylie's new trust in Kelly to falter. At a party before the team is about to head off to Worlds, Steve announces that Summer and he are planning to get married in Rio, where worlds is hosted. However, later, Summer finds out that Lauren sent in the kiss cam video and calls off the wedding, as she wants nothing to do with Lauren or Steve Tanner. At the same party, Lauren tries to convince Max to have sex with her while Payson admits to Max that she thinks she might be in love with him. Max gets drunk sitting on a couch and later Austin finds him. Max explains his situation with the two girls under the influence of alcohol and Austins helps him up. Max kisses Austin drunkly and when questioned about his sexuality by Austin, Max admits that he is bisexual. He goes on a drive with Lauren, and they get into a car accident. Lauren is fine, but Max breaks his collarbone. Payson wants to go professional so she can earn money to help support her family, as they are struggling with debt after Payson's medical bills and training, but her parents do not want her to forfeit her eligibility for a college scholarship. Payson tells Max she loves him and begs him to forget she said anything when his feelings are not confessed to her. In the season two finale, the four girls lead the team to the World Competition in Rio de Janeiro, where they win team gold.
Season Three opens with Payson, Lauren, and Kaylie heading to the American Olympic Training Center as they prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. They deal with a new coach and teammates, including upcoming gymnasts. Max and Payson have a relationship through letters; on the first day Payson receives a letter in which Max breaks up with her because he's confused. Later Payson, Lauren, Kaylie, and Austin are having a conversation based around the breakup and Austin admits to the group that Max was bisexual and that they shared a kiss on the night of the party which leaves all three girls stunned. An uninvited gymnast, Jordan Randall, convinces Coach MacIntire to let her train with the group, causing tension. Coach Mac pairs up the girls, forcing Kaylie to live and work with Kelly Parker and Lauren to work with Payson. They eventually become close friends. Kelly is not good enough for the Olympics and leaves gymnastics. Payson has a new romance with Rigo (Tom Maden). Payson finds out that Lauren has an irregular heart beat, but Lauren has heart surgery. Austin does not make the Olympic Team and blames Kaylie. Jordan reveals that a former coach, Coach Keagan, molested her when she was young. Desperate to ensure her spot on the team, Wendy drugs Kaylie with a cold medicine containing a banned substance. After Austin and Kaylie reunite, then Lauren, Payson, and Jordan tell the NGO that they are boycotting Olympic tryouts unless Kaylie is allowed to perform. Lauren discovers the secret Wendy has been hiding and exposes her, getting Wendy kicked out. The season three finale culminates with the five girls, Payson, Lauren, Kaylie, plus Jordan, and finally Colleen, being chosen to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.
The following is a table with the average estimated amount of viewers per episode, each season of Make It or Break It on ABC Family.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the first ten episodes in a set entitled Make It or Break It – Volume 1: Extended Edition. Bonus material includes deleted scenes, the never-before-seen extended finale, and the featurette, "Making It", which shows how the stars manage the acting with the difficult stunts they do.