Hollow Body Hold

Hollow Body Hold

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.

Gravity affects the positioning of the spinal column in space, so changing the position in relation to the ground, such as lying on your back, adds a controlled challenge.

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.

Feets toes

There are various reasons from a structural and anatomical perspective, but in terms of movement control, it’s because the nervous system, when elongated, creates more tension in the body and allows for a large application of forces.

Pelvic Retroversion

In short, pelvic retroversion occurs when the pelvis moves backwards as a result of hamstring and gluteal traction.

Pelvic retroversion

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.

A way to teach and create body awareness of the issue would be to place the subject in a standing position and have them imagine they have a screw between their buttocks. The idea is to not let the screw fall and for it to be pointed downwards. This generates a downwards inclination of the pelvis, together with the activation of the gluteal muscles, and therefore, pelvic retroversion.

Activate the Serratus

Serratus Anterior

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.

Serratus anterior

Its principal function is to control the movements of the scapula.

As a result, activating this muscle exerts tension on the central area and, together with pelvic retroversion, increases the level of muscle activation

Serratus Posterior

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.

Serratus posterior

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.

However, it plays an important role together with the wide dorsal and the serratus posterior superior in protecting and compacting the ribs.

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.

Increased tension in the lumbar vertebrae requires a compensatory increase in abdomen tension to maintain the neutral position.

Lower back

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.

Look at

The loss of commitment of the pelvis (pelvic anteversion), low activation of the gluteus, and no chest flexion (looking at the ceiling, opening of shoulders and ribcage), means gravity pulls down the upper and lower limbs, putting the lumbar spine into local extension.

The 5 key points for performing a Hollow Body Hold

  1. Adapt the exercise to your level and necessities.
  2. 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.
  1. 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
  1. Activate the upper limb and put tension on the central zone: “Activating the Serratus”.
  • Scapular protraction.
  • Ribs inwards.
  • Costal breathing
  1. 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)

Training Load

Tuck Hollow (pushing knees)

Training Load

Tuck Hollow (extended arms)

*Without rocking.

Training Load

Middle Tuck Hollow (extended arms and bent knees)

Training Load

Hollow (extended knees and bent arms)

Training Load

Hollow Body Position

Training Load


  1. Paoli, C. & Sherbondy, A. (2014). Freestyle: maximize sport and life performance with four basic movements. Victory Belt Publishing Inc.
  2. Zlongdpt (2019). Keys to the Hollow Body Hold. The Barbell Physio.
  3. Contreras, B. (2016). Try Hollow Body Holds. T-Nation.
  4. Varela, N. (2020). Hollow Body Hold. Body by Gimnastics.

Related Entries

  • 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.
Review of Hollow Body Hold

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About Ivan Sotelo
Ivan Sotelo
Iván Sotelo is a specialist in Prevention and Physical-Sports Rehabilitation, with experience in professional football teams.
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