When choosing core-strengthening exercises, too many of us opt for surprisingly ineffective moves like sit-ups and crunches. If you really want to target your core muscles, isometric moves like the plank are a better option: holding a position under tension for long periods is tougher on the muscles than moving up and down and releasing the tension between reps, as with sit-ups.
The hollow body hold is another excellent isometric move, working both your deep-lying core muscles and your abs, as well as an array of other muscles around the body including the glutes, quads and lats. It’s a move that’s popular with gymnasts thanks to the way it helps you build the strength to control your body position – if you’re planning on performing a flawless handstand in the near future, the hollow body hold will help you achieve it.
Sounds great, right? And it is, but all those benefits come at a cost, which is that the hollow body hold is really hard. Even if you fancy yourself a plank master and can hold that position for two or three minutes, you might struggle to maintain perfect form with the hollow body hold for longer than a minute. It’s a great finisher move for your workout, if you want to head to the shower absolute certain you’ve thrown absolutely everything at your core muscles.
How To Do The Hollow Body Hold
Lie on your back with your legs together and your arms extended behind your head. Raise your arms, shoulders and legs off the ground at the same time, until they’re hovering about 15cm above the floor.
Your lower back should be pressed into the floor at all times during the exercise, and if you find you’re struggling to do that even before you begin the hold proper, it’s worth doing more work on your core in preparation for attempting the hollow body hold.
Hold the position for as long as you can while maintaining strict form. As with all isometric moves, as soon as you drop out of position at all it becomes counterproductive to continue, so don’t hold on just to hit a time goal if your form has got sloppy.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.