7 Training Exercises to Build Core Strength and Improve Full Body Mobility


This is a classic exercise to improve your core strength, balance and confidence in an overturned position. During a handstand hold the core is required to work hard to stabilise the entire body. Shoulder and arm strength are also vital.

If you are new to handstand holds (or handstand work in general), focus on maintaining a tight core and tense your glutes throughout the entire duration of the hold. It takes time to develop a balanced freestanding hold with good form, so work up to this end goal gradually. The handstand hold will improve your core strength for progressing to handstand push ups, as Bjork Odinsdottir and Lukas Högberg are practicing above in Nike Pro HyperCool Apparel. This breathable fabric provides targeted ventilation and allows for a natural, full range of motion when you move.


The overhead squat is one of the most punishing core and mobility exercises around. It demands good shoulder mobility, strength, balance and coordination to control the weight throughout the full range of motion. It will also instantly reveal any issues with your own mobility. This is useful because it brings to light the the specific areas that you need to work on.

Thuri Helgadottir demonstrating great mobility and core strength

Try performing the movement slowly with an empty bar and take 10 seconds for both the eccentric (downward – quads lengthening) and the concentric (upwards – quads contracting) phases of the movement. Forcing your body to move slowly will make it impossible to speed through any part of the motion that you find difficult.

General Technique Tips

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Wide grip and active shoulders
  • Elbows locked out
  • Look straight ahead
  • Maintain lumbar curve
  • Constant upward pressure on the bar
  • Squat to below parallel

Tip for beginners: Make sure you can execute a rock solid air squat before you progress onto the overhead squat.

Challenge for advanced athletes: Try dead stop overhead squats. Use jerk blocks or a power rack to support the weight and lift from the lowest position.

To further improve your overhead squat, try the following accessory exercises:

  • Snatch balance
  • Sotts press
  • Squats


The deadlift is an incredibly effective way to build core and full body strength. The kettlebell deadlift offers the same benefits but tests your body in a new way. It will improve your grip strength, core, legs, arms, glutes and full posterior chain, so start adding these into your workouts for a highly functional and lesser used exercise.

deadlifting for strength

Follow the same technique cues that you would for any other normal deadlift.

Technique Tips

  • Set up with heels hip width apart, point toes out slightly
  • Lean down and grip the handles without bending your legs
  • Bend your knees and drop down into position
  • Keep back straight
  • Lift chest
  • Take a big breath and hold it throughout the lift
  • Pull
  • Make sure that the knees don’t track inwards during the lift

You can see Lukas Högberg training above in Nike Pro HyperCool Apparel whilst performing kettlebell deadlifts as part of his workout. During longer strength and conditioning sessions, the cooling fabric mesh throughout the back and sides helps keep the air flowing, while Dri-FIT technology pulls sweat away from your skin. This allows you to concentrate on the task ahead, like those thrusters or long set of box jumps.

working out


The pistol squat is not only good for building strength and balance, it is also a great movement for diagnosing your current imbalances and mobility weaknesses. Difficulty with pistols could mean you have weak glutes or tight hip adductors, calves or hip flexors. Poor ankle mobility can also be a problem for this exercise.

Crossfit pistol technique
A perfectly performed pistol

Often our bodies are imbalanced, so you may find that you feel more comfortable on a particular leg. This is quite normal. If you are struggling with pistols, try these accessory exercises and drills to help speed up your progress:

With a Box

Place a box behind you and stand in front of it. Perform the pistol and lower yourself down until you are sitting on the box. Stand back up again to complete the rep. Alternate between both legs. This scaled variation will shorten the range of motion, build leg strength and increase familiarity in the movement itself.

With Plates Under the Heels

Simply place plates on the floor. Stand with your heels on the plates and your toes touching the floor. Perform a pistol squat from this elevated position. You will notice that it is much easier to move through the full range of motion. If you struggle with ankle mobility, this is a great way to scale the movement.

Tip for advanced athletes: Add a kettlebell into the equation, just like Thuridur Helgadottir below, to make the exercise even more challenging.

Challenge yourself

3. L SIT

Simple but highly effective, the L sit is a tough exercise for athletes of all levels! You can use parallel bars or hold your L sit on the floor. Keep your body tight and your form strict in order to get the maximum amount of benefit for your core strength and abs.


The split jerk is a movement that requires immense amounts of power and technique and in contrast with the push or power jerk, is used to lift the most weight. If you want to push your clean and jerk PR through the roof, perfect this technique. It will test and improve your overhead mobility, core strength and balance.

Split Jerk Technique Tips – Rack Position

If you struggle to keep your chest or elbows up during the dip you may have to work on improving your thoracic mobility or loosening your lats and triceps. Alternatively it may be postural strength, for this jerk dips with heavyweight which for 3 sets of 5 will help the athlete strengthen the dip posture. In addition a common habit to watch out for is to compromise the upright position of the rack by using the arms too early, you must let the shoulders drive through the bar before your arms punch through.

Perfect the Drive

Push press is a fantastic exercise to work on the drive, however you must use the leg drive as much as possible by driving up onto the toes, and staying on the toes until the end of the press, this may be harder but it will be rewarding! In contrast, if your leg power is good but your bar path is off, power jerks are a great way to correct the bar path. Many athletes can save a bad split jerk but may be punching the bar incorrectly, using a combination of push press and power jerk can help solve the problem naturally.


This is a tricky exercise that is much harder that it looks to do properly. It will identify weaknesses in your mobility and test your posterior chain in a new and challenging way. Keep your core tight and back straight throughout the full range of motion.

Add variety into your training

It is important to maximise the control you feel over your body and movement, as this will help with overall balance. Compression wear will also help to deliver this propriceptive feedback, and optimise your performance. Proprioception is the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium.

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