The Hollow Body Hold is a difficult exercise for some, and an easy one for others. The aim is to hold a stable position over a long period of time.
Challenge your body
Few people are truly challenged by maintaining a neutral standing position, or even with variants of this vertical position.
However, there is a need to understand and advance the movement capacity of the human body to respond better under a stress or stimulus, challenging the neutral spinal position by introducing simple demands for controlled movements.
A simple evaluation of all the global anterior musculature in charge of maintaining the Hollow position would be to perform the exercise and observe how the amount of required muscle tension decreases and how the form of the exercise is lost, increasing the tremors and contracting the position (Flinch).
What is the Hollow Body Hold?
The Hollow Body Hold is a basic, isometric, global exercise, oriented towards the lumbo-abdominal complex (Core) and with a great potential of transference with physical activity, physical exercise and sport, for example, Gymnastics, Crossfit, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Swimming.
This fantastic exercise is characterised by:
- High transference with other sports and fitness activities.
- Motor control necessity.
- Global musculature activation.
- Adaptability and individualisation in different person profiles.
- Analytic muscle activation: serratus anterior (shoulder protraction), serratus posterior (breathing) and gluteal muscles (pelvic retroversion).
Build your Hollow Body Hold
Stretch out as much as possible
Both ends of the body should be stretched to their fullest extent as part of their aesthetic expression, creating tension and generating movement.
As a consequence, if the feet/toes (“Pointed Toes”) and arms are in extension, they’ll produce a tension that’ll be transmitted from one end to the other, as if it were a wire.
In short, pelvic retroversion occurs when the pelvis moves backwards as a result of hamstring and gluteal traction.
In contrast, the pelvic anteversion occurs when the pelvis moves forward (lumbar arch position).
Specifically, exaggerating these two positions will bring problems, causing the lumbar arch to be too pronounced (in the case of anteversion), or in the retroversion to be lost completely.
The extent of pelvic retroversion is in some cases a complex and difficult issue to understand.
Activate the Serratus
The serratus anterior is a muscle located on the side of the chest, with its origin on the anterior face of the medial border of the scapula, and inserts along in the anterolateral faces of the first 10 ribs.
Its principal function is to control the movements of the scapula.
On the other hand, the Serratus Posterior Superior, located in the upper part of the dorsum (extends from the spine to the first ribs) and is a muscle in charge of lifting the first ribs, being an inspiration muscle.
Related to this is the Serratus Posterior Inferior, located in the lower part of the dorsum (from the spine to the last four ribs), which, in contrast, is an expiration muscle.
In summary, recommendations for which muscles to develop in relation to those forming the serratus would be the following:
- Scapular protraction.
- Shoulders flexed 180º.
- Ribs inwards.
- Breathing cycle control.
Tightens the abdomen
The extension of the upper and lower limbs by means of chest flexion, shoulder flexion and protraction, and the extension of knees and feet, lifts the spinal load by creating muscle tension around the abdomen, but does not generate stress on the lumbar spine if the movement is individualised and executed correctly.
The Hollow Body Position is a great exercise for learning how to load the lower back (lumbar spine), which is sensitive to extensions and flinches (shrinkage or regression of position after muscle fatigue or loss of motor control).
The tremor seen in the Hollow Hold position expresses a series of micro-flinches, which reflect the loss of physiological motor control.
The 5 key points for performing a Hollow Body Hold
- Adapt the exercise to your level and necessities.
- Creates effective and efficient levers: “Stretch yourself as much as you can.”
- 180º shoulder flexion.
- Knee, foot and toe extension.
- Legs together at all times.
- Arms at shoulder height.
- Protect your lumbar spine and improve muscle activation: “Pelvic Retroversion”.
- Fix and keep the lumbar/pelvic area in contact with the ground.
- Activate the gluteus muscles
- Activate the upper limb and put tension on the central zone: “Activating the Serratus”.
- Scapular protraction.
- Ribs inwards.
- Costal breathing
- Optimise the Hollow position: “Tense the abs”.
- Chest flexion.
- Light neck flexion.
How to perform the Hollow Body Hold? Progression
Below is a basic progression of exercises to help anyone correctly develop the necessary pre-requisites to ultimately perform the Hollow Hold.
Tuck Hollow (bunched)
Tuck Hollow (pushing knees)
Tuck Hollow (extended arms)
Middle Tuck Hollow (extended arms and bent knees)
Hollow (extended knees and bent arms)
Hollow Body Position
- Paoli, C. & Sherbondy, A. (2014). Freestyle: maximize sport and life performance with four basic movements. Victory Belt Publishing Inc.
- Zlongdpt (2019). Keys to the Hollow Body Hold. The Barbell Physio.
- Contreras, B. (2016). Try Hollow Body Holds. T-Nation.
- Varela, N. (2020). Hollow Body Hold. Body by Gimnastics.
- The Dead Bug is an exercise for strengthening the “core”. If you want to find out more, visit this link.
- Do you know how to do the Abdominal Vacuum? click here.