Get Abs Like A Gymnast: The Hollow Body Hold

“I want a weak core” – said no one ever.  Having a strong core is going to make you better at everything you do in the gym, sports, and physical aspects of life.  I feel fortunate enough to have read alot about core training when I first started working out  and focused on it a lot.  From it I have always been able to keep good form and prevent injuries.

Many people make the mistake of only doing crunches.  That’s great if all you want your core to do is flex your torso.  The deep stability muscles that support the spine is what you really want to target.  I am sure you have seen planks and all of the modified versions.  Even though they are great exercises, I never heard a client sound excited about holding a plank.  One they are hard, and two they can get boring.

So as an alternative to the plank,  a great stability exercise is the hollow body hold.  Gymnasts have been using this exercise in their training to create the incredible core strength that they need to perform their sport.  Have you ever seen a gymnast without a set of developed abs?


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Here’s how you do it:

Lie on your back with the arms and legs in the air and the knees bent. Press your lower back into the floor The upper torso will crunch upward slightly, but you’re not actively trying to do this – it’s a result of the flattening of the lumbar spine.

Gradually lower the arms and feet toward the floor, keeping the legs as straight as possible. Do not lose contact between the lower back and floor.

Hold this position for time and continue to push the low back into the floor throughout the duration of the set.

Too Hard?

A scaled down version would be to tuck your knees in to your chest and/or bringing your arms down by your side.

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This has great carryover to a lot of exercises that you may be doing with bad form.  The pull-up is one I see many people butchering.  This is a great video from the guys at Barbell Shrugged on Strict Pull-up Position and Progression.  At the 1:50 mark they get into the hollow body position for pull-ups.



Give these a try today and start building a strong core that will transfer over to any movement or exercise that you do.


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About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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