The Ultimate Exercise to Maximize Function: The Hollow Body Hold

Hollow body hold 2

No other type of athlete in the world represents the epitome of muscular strength,  balance, and mobility than world-class gymnasts. If you ever watch a gymnastics competition, you can’t help but be in awe of their physical capabilities in terms of the superhuman strength that they portray, the mobility that allows them to move so gracefully, and the agility that enables them to perform mind-blowing stunts. The one thing that allows the gymnast to be able to accomplish these abilities is developing a strong core, and the hollow body hold is the holy grail of core exercises.
There is a reason why elite gymnasts incorporate the hollow body hold every day into their training routines because it produces results. Someone who has never attempted a hollow body hold before will quickly be humbled with just how difficult it actually is. A true hollow body hold with upper extremities and lower extremities completely parallel to the ground involves a prolonged contraction of all the muscles in your entire body, all while maintaining a functional hollowed body position. This allows for developing maximum control and stability while also incorporating time under tension, which is a necessary component of building strength.
Another advantage that the hollow body hold offers are its specificity in promoting functional intrinsic abdominal muscle control. In order for the body to move better and for muscles to produce maximum amounts of force (which is what gymnasts need to perform), the core muscles need to be continuously on and creating prolonged tension. The hollow body hold perfectly replicates this, and continuous practicing of this move will eventually lead to your body being able to naturally do this without conscious effort.
For all these reasons I have a lot of my patients start practicing the hollow body hold immediately. Now I would consider the hollow body hold an advanced exercise, to be performed by individuals who already have a decent level of core strength and control. But of course, there are ways to tier the exercise down to whatever level you are at which I describe below so that you can start getting the same benefits as world-class gymnasts.

Progression 1

Maximizing the Hollow Body Hold
Keep back flat on the ground using the core muscles. Keep knees bent to 90 degrees. Elevate arms 2 inches off ground and reach downward squeezing your shoulder blades back and down. Hold until fatigue or form breaks.

Progression 2

Keep back flat on the ground using the core muscles. Start to straighten your legs and bring feet down to the floor, but keep in a position that you can hold for at least 30 seconds without breaking form. Elevate arms 2 inches off ground and reach downward squeezing your shoulder blades back and down. Hold until fatigue or form breaks.

Progression 3

Keep back flat on the ground using the core muscles. Keep knees straight and feet pointed downward. Keep Feet elevated 2 inches off ground. Squeezing shoulder blades back and down reach arms fully overhead as far back as they can go. Hold until fatigue or form breaks.