THE HOLLOW BODY HOLD PROGRESSION LADDER

If you get lean enough and you take the time to master the Hollow Body Hold Progression Ladder, your abs are going to look incredible. I don't recommend doing loads of ab work, just enough to get them strong as hell, then shred any excess fat off and you'll have abs that dreams are made of.

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This ladder is another one where we just set one basic position and then systematically increase the challenge.

This Hollow Body Ladder is one basic position that we 'lock in' and then challenge by increasing the amount of leverage used to challenge your core at each different level. This again means that there are some standard things we need to maintain for the entire progression ladder. See those just below.

To master the Hollow Body Progression Ladder, attack the ab drill we use each month, then work hard on The L-Sit drills as well. That should be all you need. Proper abdominal training isn't about loads of sets from loads of different angles; it's about getting stronger. Be a consistent minimalist, follow the programme and your ab strength will shooot up.

STANDARD CRITERIA

CRITERIA: 

–> Lumbar spine must be flat to the floor
–> Shoulders must be off the floor
–> Bottom of shoulder blades must be touching the floor
–> Back must not be hurting
–> Ribs must be down
–> Chin tucked
–> You must be able to feel the abs working

I urge you to pay particular attention in the early stages to making sure the move feels right. If you can't do these without your back hurting, don't do them, or at least practice them only with the easiest progressions, until it feels right. Only then can you build the strength where we need it -- in your abs -- and only then can we train these safely with more advanced progressions. If you can do these, you should do, but if you can't, you either need a good physio, or you need to focus your efforts elsewhere.

PROGRESSION 1: HOLLOW BODY HOLD. KNEES 90. HOLDING KNEES.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> As standard, except obvious difference in arm placement.
–> Knees must be held ‘@ 90’ throughout (thighs vertical, shins parallel to the floor).

Hopefully an easy start, but it’s worth spending some time here to familiarise yourself with the position. I have people doing this every time they’ve gone for too much and done a set where they’re not in the perfect position. If your back often hurts when training abs, or you can’t feel your abs working at all (it happens — hence the “must feel abs working” check point in the criteria), this is where you must spend quite a bit of time until you develop the basic strength and awareness to get your abs to do what they need to do.

PROGRESSION 2: TUCK HOLLOW. ARMS REACHING AHEAD.

CRITERIA: 

–> Standard
–> arms must reach straight forward and not touch legs, no jazz hands allowed.

WAFFLE

Hopefully, still easy. We might have you practice with your hands actually on your rectus abdominus (your six pack) or feeling your ribs press down, but when you test, hands have to be in the reaching position.

PROGRESSION 3: VERTICAL LEG HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS REACHING AHEAD.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> As Standard, plus…
–> Legs must be locked out and vertical (or close to it if your hammies are too tight)
–> Arms must be in the reaching position

Arguably not harder at all for the abs. But you gotta be able to hold locked legs. Easy for athletes, not necessarily easy for those who haven’t much training or gymnastics in their past.

 

PROGRESSION 4: HOLLOW BODY HOLD. HALF-WAY LEGS. ARMS REACHING DOWN.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked-out and held half-way down to the floor (at a 45 degree angle).
–> Arms must be in the reaching position

WAFFLE

The first time we load your abs a little more. As long as you have basic strength and can separate hip movement from the lumbar spine, you’ll be fine. If you can't, it might be as much of a coordination problem as a strength problem, so practice concioulsy and carefully.

PROGRESSION 5: FULL HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS REACHING DOWN.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held no more than a foot off the floor
–> Arms must be in the reaching position

This is as far as the legs have to come. Nail this, then you’ve achieved full position with the arms reaching down. Next we increase the leverage by focusing on the other end…

PROGRESSION 6: TUCK HOLLOW. ARMS VERTICAL.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Knees must be held ‘@ 90’ throughout (thighs vertical, shins parallel to the floor).
–> Arms must be straight, reaching vertically

WAFFLE

This will only be difficult if you have tight shoulders or a slow brain. For some of you, it may take a bit of practice to open the shoulders without the spine following and the back ‘un-hollowing’. You’ll get it though, and if you have the strength for the last progression, you should get this one relatively quickly.

PROGRESSION 7: VERTICAL LEG HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS VERTICAL.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–>Legs must be locked out and vertical (or close to it if your hammies are too tight)
–> Arms must be straight, reaching vertically

Each arm position..same leg sequence. Here we set vertically, then we ready ourselves for increased load…

PROGRESSION 8: HOLLOW BODY HOLD. HALF-WAY LEGS. ARMS VERTICAL.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held half-way down to the floor (at a 45 degree angle).
–> Arms must be straight, reaching vertically

WAFFLE

Unless you’re a natural and it’s easy, the skill here is in flicking the mind between controlling the legs with the lower abs and checking the upper abs are still fully crunched as you reach your arms up.

PROGRESSION 9: FULL HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS VERTICAL.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held no more than a foot off the floor
–> Arms must be straight, reaching vertically

Blooming well done. You’re ready for the final -- ‘real’ -- arm position…

PROGRESSION 10: TUCK HOLLOW. ARMS OVERHEAD

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Knees must be held ‘@ 90’ throughout (thighs vertical, shins parallel to the floor).
–> Arms must be straight, reaching directly above head, biceps around ears.

WAFFLE

Again, a little harder strength-wise, a little testing (and I mean a little) shoulder-mobility wise and a little more difficult mentally, (to ‘open the shoulders’ more, without the back arching too). As soon as you get the hang of it though, you’ll be able to actively reach away from your torso (increasing the strength demand of the abs), while maintaining a full and solid crunch position (reach one way; crunch hard the other way).

PROGRESSION 11: VERTICAL LEG HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS OVERHEAD.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

CRITERIA

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and vertical (or close to it if your hammies are too tight)
–> Arms must be straight, reaching directly above your head, biceps around ears.

This progression should be easy by now.

PROGRESSION 12: HOLLOW BODY HOLD. HALF-WAY LEGS. ARMS OVERHEAD.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held half-way down to the floor (at a 45 degree angle).
–> Arms must be straight, reaching directly above your head (if you were standing up), biceps must be around the ears.

WAFFLE

You still feel abs right? Your arms are reaching one way, your legs the other -- make sure you're controlling with those abs before you get greedy and race to the end of the ladder.

PROGRESSION 13: FULL HOLLOW BODY HOLD. ARMS OVERHEAD.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held no more than a foot off the floor
–> Arms must be straight, reaching directly above your head, biceps around ears.

Fab. This is the full ‘Gymnastic Hollow Body Position’. Master this rung and you’re doing pretty good. The next progressions are just to make sure you’re really strong and ensure your abs are really-really defined (or will be if you eat right).

PROGRESSION 14: HOLLOW BODY ROCKS!

CRITERIA:

--> Must keep lower back on floor

--> Body must move as 'one piece', without the abdominal position changing

--> You must feel all the work in the stomach

WAFFLE

This one, like Geology…Rocks.

(Sorry).

Unlike the other movements, in this exciting interjection to the static hollow-hold progression ladder, you get to move! You must rock back and forth with short sharp movements and maintain your full Hollow position throughout. You’ll need greater ab strength to cope with the increased force that comes from the rocking, and of course you’ll need to aquire the skill and the coordination too.

20 is a pass. (100 is a good laugh).

PROGRESSION 15: TUCK HOLLOW. WEIGHTED.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Knees must be held ‘@ 90’ throughout (thighs vertical, shins parallel to the floor).
–> One must hold a weight of 20% bodyweight 80% of the way to full-arm-position-position! Judges decisiom is final.

This is tough. You may have to train by holding the weight at vertical and reaching back gradually as you get used to the challenge. But, we are on the last few rungs of this ladder and it’s supposed to be tough! You need extremely strong and defined abs to get this far.

PROGRESSION 16: VERTICAL LEG HOLLOW. WEIGHTED.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and vertical (or close to it if your hammies are too tight)
–> Must hold a weight of 20% bodyweight 80% of the way to full-arm-position-position!

WAFFLE

This is the same as all of these sequences: we master in crunched position, then we extend and then lower the legs to increase strength demand and climb to higher rungs of the ladder.

PROGRESSION 17: HOLLOW BODY HOLD. HALF-WAY LEGS. WEIGHTED.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held half-way down to the floor (on a 45 degree angle).
–> Must hold a weight of 20% bodyweight 80% of the way to full-arm-position-position!

Almost there!

PROGRESSION 18: FULL HOLLOW BODY HOLD. WEIGHTED.

CRITERIA:

–> Standard
–> Legs must be locked out and held no more than a foot off the floor
–> One must hold a weight of 20% bodyweight 80% of the way to full-arm-position-position!

WAFFLE

Got this??? Well done. You must have an outrageous stomach of muscle. Go out and tease members of the opposite sex with it immediately.

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