Core and Upper Body Strength

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Sep 12, 2015
Hello! I,ve been struggling with my core and upper body strength lately.

I started gymnastics late last fall, after having to stop a different sport due to injury. I'm completely cleared for gymnastics and have been fine with that. However, due to the sport I played earlier I have a ton of leg strength. My core and arms on the other hand are extremely weak. This has resulted in me working on level 4-5 skills on floor, vault and beam and struggling with kips and other basic bar skills. My pullover is also terrible and I can only do it on a very low setting.

Anyway, I'd love to improve core and upper body strength. When I talked to my coach, she suggested leg raises, v ups, windshield wipers and pull ups. Problem is I pretty much can't do a single one of those. I can only do one V up while whipping my arms forward as well. I don't have enough strength for what most suggest. Oddly enough however push-ups are pretty easy for me and I usually do 3 sets of 20 before going to bed. If anyone has any ideas on how to work up to these exercises and how to get stronger please give advice. I'm a bit lost.


May 31, 2014
Okay, I'm mostly speaking from personal experience here, as I've always had to work extra hard to develop strength (especially core strength) and have done all of these exercises before moving on to the more traditional ones you've mentioned.

For core:
  • all kinds of plank holds (I'm a big fan. You could even do those while watching tv. This is a whole body move but I'm categorizing it up here because it's what most people associate it with.)
  • hollow holds of all levels
  • boat pose (from yoga)
  • crunches (though there's a lot of controversy surrounding this exercise, so check with your coach first)

For upper body:
  • handstand holds (against a wall if you can't hold them yet)
  • shoulder taps (in plank and/or handstand)
  • up up down down's (these are a personal favorite of mine and something different than pushups)
  • pullup holds and reverse pullups

Hope you find something that works for you!


I have no specific suggestions other than, keep trying! So if 5 five pull-ups are pretty hard for you, start with say 3 and keep doing them until they get easier and add more on. That is what my physical therapist told me to do with my home exercises. I came into this sport with very little strength so I understand what you're going through!
Sep 12, 2015
When I say I can't do a pull up I mean I physically am unable to pull myself up even 1cm. I usually jump a bit on a pullover, but without a jump im hanging limply.

Paint A Melody

Jul 8, 2014
For help with pull ups, how about trying to do chin holds or negatives? If you have someone nearby they can help you get up with your chin over the bar and you try to hold it. Or they can help you get up and you try to slowly lower yourself.
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