The Gymnastic Exercise You Need to Master

Master the hollow body hold, then ramp it up with these 3 advanced variations for lifters.

Why are sit-ups, crunches, and planks still the gold standard for ab training? They’re not all that effective. But here’s what is: the hollow body hold and its advanced variations.

Walk into any gymnastic class and you’ll see that the hollow body hold (or “hollow hold” for short) is the foundational core buster that must be mastered before you can progress to advanced core exercises. Mastering it will help you to transfer force throughout your body. It’s accomplished by bracing your abs and creating and enduring total-body tension, which is important for any strength or athletic movement.

Once you get it down, you can increase the difficulty with just a kettlebell. Why do it? To become stronger and more stable when throwing, pushing, pulling, hitting, kicking, jumping, lifting anything heavy, and for gains of course.

The Regular Hollow Body Hold

  1. Lie down with your chest facing the ceiling. Extend your arms and legs and hold them about an inch or two off the floor (lumbopelvic position).
  2. Press your low back flat into the ground so there’s no arch, but rather a straight line from your shoulders to your butt. If it’s correct, you’ll feel it in your abs. Your body should emulate a rocking chair.

Hollow Body Hold with Press-Out

  1. Grab a heavy kettlebell.
  2. Get in the hollow body position.
  3. Press the kettlebell out in front of you slightly toward your toes while staying in position.

Hollow Body Hold with Press-Out, Variation 2

This one is a lot like the previous one, but you hold the KB with a thumbs-down grip and press it straight above your chest instead of at an angle toward your toes.

  1. Grab a heavy kettlebell and hold it by the horns with your thumbs on the underside pointed downward toward your body.
  2. Get in hollow body position.
  3. Do a double-arm kettlebell press by while keeping your core in the hollow position.

The Hollow Body Hold with Single-Arm Press

  1. Grab a heavy kettlebell.
  2. Get in the hollow body hold position and grasp the kettlebell with just one hand.
  3. Do a single-arm kettlebell press while staying in the hollow body position.

The Missing Ingredient

If you’ve already mastered the hollow body hold, then combining it with a variety of presses may be the missing ingredient that you need to sprinkle in. It’ll let you know if your core needs to get stronger… and it can always get stronger.