THE HOLLOW BODY HOLD...

This is simply all about straight-up abdominal strength in a move that has good skill transfer into lots of other things we do in this programme. Get on your back and learn to create serious core tension and control...

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HOW TO HOLLOW BODY HOLD:

LIE DOWN – Look mean and get your mind on the job.

START KNEES AT 90 DEGREES – Shins parallel to the floor, toes pointed (unless you cramp).

REACH ARMS DOWN THE ROOM – this helps drive the necessary body shape.

CURL SHOULDERS OFF FLOOR BY SQUEEZING ABS – Suck the belly button in, curl from your Lower Abs, bring your head and shoulders off the deck, feel the lower back position…

LOWER BACK FLAT TO FLOOR (VERY SLIGHTLY ROUNDED) – our lower back, in normal human posture standing up, will have a slight Lordotic arch. In the gymnastics Hollow Body Position, we need to flatten this out, or even round it very slightly. This is the position we want here. IT IS NOT AN AB CRUNCH. WE DON’T WANT TO COME UP AS FAR UP AS WE CAN -- that’s where we risk our lumbar disks if we’re not careful, this is not maximal range of motion, we are just locking in a posterior pelvic tilt and testing isometric abdominal strength in this position.

STRAIGHTEN YOUR LEGS – Once you’re comfortable and confident you can hold this position for the desired time period, we are going to straighten the legs towards the full ‘Hollow Body’ position. Make sure your spine and pelvis don’t move, then straighten your legs straight up, and then lower them to the floor until you hit the sweet spot where it is difficult but manageable.

REACH ARMS – Comfortable here? Good, now reach your arms overhead and make sure you can control that.

HOLD – stay for the desired time amking sure you can feel your abs controlling your torso at all times.

WHICH PROGRESSION?

As laid out in The Hollow Body Hold Progression Ladder, we simply pick the best position we can hold for the desired time and hold!

Ideally, you master all the positions in this order, but sometimes we have our little quirks and some of the so called harder versions may actually be easier for you. That doesn’t matter, find the progression you can just about do, then train it hard, until you can master the harder ones, but feel free to test and experiment a little to see where you're strong and where you're not.

ARMS REACH DOWN
Knees at 90
Straight Leg
Half Way down
Full Position

ARMS STRAIGHT UP
Knees at 90
Straight Leg
Half Way down
Full Position

ARMS REACH OVERHEAD
Knees at 90
Straight Leg
Half Way down
Full Position

WEIGHTED
Knees at 90
Straight Leg
Half Way down
Full Position

BASIC REGRESSIONS FOR THOSE WHO REALLY STRUGGLE WITH THIS

Pelvic Tilts – If you can’t do it, as ever, you need more strength and more control! Go back and practice pelvic tilts in a lying position, and then practice the basic Hollow Body Position straight after and you should get better.

Chair Dish – If you’re struggling, practice the 'Chair Dish', and then return with fresher awareness of the feeling. You’ll do better and have a clearer map of what you’re trying to do in your head.

HOW YOU PEOPLE (COULD) MESS IT UP...

YOU CAN’T HOLD FLAT BLACK – The classic error – you just can’t do it yet. You lose shape and your back arches. The fix is to regress to Pelvic Tilts then the very basic Hollow Body Position, and then to build back up slowly as you get stronger.

YOUR BACK HURTS – As ever, if you’re not sure, get yourself checked out by a specialist. It happens when you’ve blown it – your back hurts because it is getting compressed or the muscles try to work when they shouldn’t. If your back hurts on these, regress, and try putting your hands on your abdominals to feel the muscles working. This can help motor control as touching a muscle can make it easier to contract it – try it here and you may be able to get a better position and relax the back.

TOO GREEDY – Once you can do it you’ll surely want to be hero and master the full rocking beauty. But, if you’re not ready, you'll lose control, crash out early or arch your back and lose the feeling in the abs. If it happense, simply go back to the previous progression and build back up slowly.

NECK STRAIN – This can happen here especially to folks with overactive or weak neck muscles and poor posture. Make sure your chin is tucked slightly, and then build up slowly. If that’s no good, train Hollow Body Position in other exercises, and, of course, seek out someone who can help you correct your imbalances.

YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH – Breath! An easy fix for sure, but it often happens when people are concentrating hard on these. Make sure you can breath comfortably before you progress these to the next level. Short gentle breaths are probably the way.

WICKED CUES!

TURTLE SHELL – Picture your back as an unbendable turtle shell. Seems to help some folk!

VISUALISE THE LUMBAR POSITION – Picturing the bones, joints, shape you’re trying to hold in your mind is often one of the best things to do when trying to improve your technique. Try it, see if it works for you.

PRESS THE BOTTOM RIBS DOWN INTO YOUR ABS -- this helps you shorten the abs and feel them contract.

BRACE FOR A PUNCH -- Your abs will instinctively tense up harder.

ON THE HOLLOW BODY ROCKS:

INITIATE WITH YOUR LEGS – initiating the rock with the legs helps you get moving without losing your ‘Hollow Position’.

PULSE AS YOU ROLL OVER YOUR SPINE -- It can be really tough to learn Hollow Body Rocks. One great cue that I find really helps people to hold their shape and stop the back from arching is this one: imagine, just as you are about to roll back over your spine, a pulse of strength and musculature contraction in your lower abs – this should make sure the right muscles are is contracting, right when they are needed most.

ONE UNIT -- If you have multiple moving parts throughout the body, you do not have this down. Keep practicing until you feel your body working as one unit.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?!

This is an absolutely fundamental gymnastic position, which I’m sure has been used since before I was a boy. Even if you’re not into gymnastics, it is a fundamental move in terms of body control – we need this whatever your intentions are.

You need serious Abdominal Strength to do this well. As a result, your abs will adapt and strengthen, and will look amazing.

Obviously it’s yet another drill you can do anywhere, so its applications are massive and flexible.

ISN’T JUST THE SAME AS THE DISH??? – No. Not how I use it anyway. With The Dish we are much more focused on the lower abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. The Hollow is a little more inclusive to the amount of abdominal musculature involved. I find that working both has profound effects.

YOU’LL MASTER THE HOLLOW BODY HOLD PROGRESSION LADDER – funny that.

ALTERNATIVES...

Well, there’s only one valid reason I can think of that you’d need to change these for something else longterm: that’s IF they hurt your back and you can’t correct it with patient practice.

Now, if that’s you, I’d seek help first if you can.

But I’d also forget all about it! If a particular move just doesn’t suit you, I’d say let it go and work on other things. In The Strength Sessions Programme, you could just leave these out and focus on other things, but if you’d like to work on other things to replace it, I’d recommend whichever of these you get on with best:

–> Extra Leg Raise work.
–> Extra L-Sit practice.
–> Hanging Knee Raises.

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