We have witnessed that developing a strong core lays a solid foundation for just about any movement we want to teach and learn.
Beginning with the Bent Hollow Body Hold, a seemingly innocuous little exercise, the Bent Hollow Body Hold is our ground level introductory core movement that we introduce when teaching Gymnastics Strength Training. Seemingly simple and easy to start with, the Bent Hollow Body Hold gets excruciatingly tough when performed correctly and pushed out to 60 second holds for multiple exposures.
The critical part of this movement is to pull the lordotic curve (lumbar arch) from the back so that the entire back is rounded from shoulders to butt. Initially, you may find this movement easy, but make sure you perfect the positioning and tightness of your core, as later, when we add in actual movement, you will find that the rocking is rough because of a flat spot in the lower back. This is a perfect measure of both a weakness in and inability to innervate the lower abs.
The role of the hip flexors is relatively insignificant in the
hollow body holds, but the role of the lower rectus (lower abs) is dramatic.
To begin learning how to perform hollow body holds, lie down on your back with your arms by your side and legs bent. For this bent hollow body shape, press your lower back into the floor by drawing your belly button “down” and “in.” With your midsection tight, lift your shoulders off the floor by elongating your spine and actively contracting your abs. Also lift your legs and keep your knees bent. Note the details: elbows are locked, legs are together, and toes are pointed.
How long can you hold this position? Do not let your lower back come up off the floor! The entire purpose of a hollow body holds are to challenge all the muscles in the front of your core: diaphragm, abdominals, hip flexors, quads, and more. Any weakness in this anterior chain will result in a loss of shape: shoulders too low, back arching, or legs lifting too high. Make sure to push yourself. There is very little risk of injury when performing hollow body holds, so really dig deep and focus on developing work capacity through effort and discipline.
If you can perform the Bent Hollow Body Hold with excellent technique, appropriate duration, and with the ability to perform the accompanying integrated mobility exercises (we will discuss these in a later article), then we can progress towards more challenging holds such as the Straddle Hollow Body Hold and eventually the Hollow Body Hold.
Hollow Body Holds form the foundation of our core strength training, and as such they should be absolutely mastered by anyone and everyone looking to reach higher heights in their training.