Hollow Body Hold- The Complete Guide for You: Top Pros and Cons

hollow body hold

The hollow body hold is an isometric maneuver for bracing abdominal muscles, and it will help transfer force from the upper body to the lower body without losing any energy. The hollow body hold is an exercise that helps to strengthen up core muscles that stabilize the spine.

The practice is beneficial for both beginners and experienced fitness trainers in building up the core. Moreover, the hollow body hold; brace the abdominal muscles that will stabilize the lower spine. In contrast with other abdominal exercises like sit-ups, the hollow body hold may be more efficient in activating deep abdominal muscles. However, traditional core exercises may be more effective in activating other muscles. Similarly, an ideal abdominal exercise would include a combination of both activities.

Muscles targeted in the hollow body hold

hollow body hold

The hollow body hold will help build the muscles present on the anterior side of the body. These muscles include:

  1. Internal and external oblique
  2. Rectus and transversus abdominis 
  3. Hip flexors
  4. Quadriceps

Benefits of the hollow body hold

The hollow body hold helps the body in so many ways; it will improve spinal stability and build core strength.

Spinal stability

During athletic and daily life movements, the hollow body reinforces the muscles that stabilize the lower back. Gluteal muscles, hip flexor, and abdominal muscles that are evenly strengthened help keep the spine in good alignment and prevent tension on the vertebrae and discs.

Generally speaking, core strengthening is one of the most beneficial approaches to treat lower back pain holistically. Besides that, posterior pelvic tilt and stretched ribs are ideal ways for relieving pressure along the entire length of the spine. The drawn-in position is one of the most efficient ways to boost the transversus abdominis muscle, keeping the spine stable.

Build abdominal muscle strength

The hollow body hold helps to keep the body’s core stable. A strong core encourages violent motion with the upper and lower body while keeping the spine stable.

Progression into calisthenics

The braced posture of the “hollow body hold” holds the basis of many modern calisthenics techniques. Calisthenics is a comprehensive strength training method that includes basic activities such as pushups and pullups, planche has, and current gymnastic exercises such as muscle-ups, handstands, and backflips. The majority of calisthenics exercises depend on the abdominal bracing strategy you’ll learn from the hollow body hold.

The procedure of hollow body hold

hollow body hold

If you want to get more benefit from a hollow body hold, concentrate on techniques and forms. Use an exercise mat to get extra support while performing the activity.

  1. Initiate by lying down on the ground with legs in extension and arms in a straight position.
  2. Engage your core and push your lower back into the floor to contract your abs. Push your inner thighs closely to begin the movement. There must be no space left between your lower back and the ground.
  3. Lift your legs 2-3 inches off the floor, keeping your abs contracted. Make sure to sustain your lower back on the ground.
  4. Lift your head off the floor for about 1-2 inches, and then stretch your arms overhead and behind your occipital area. Make sure to sustain your lower back on the ground.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as possible before descending your legs and shoulder blade onto the ground.

Common mistakes

The hollow body hold does not require so many steps. The main objective is to sustain an isometric contraction for a specific duration before returning to the initial state. Similarly, your position during the hold period is the most crucial component of this exercise.

Following are some common missteps that occur when doing the hollow body hold.

Less contact of the lower back

The common mistake done by individuals is, they lift their lower back. The essential key to perform a hollow body hold is to keep your lumbar region onto the floor. While performing, you should focus on keeping your core engaged to avoid the mistake. In case you lose contact with the floor, consider adjusting the placement of arms and legs. The abdominal muscle tension will reduce by keeping your arms on your side and bending your knees.

Keeping the shoulder onto the floor

Your shoulder blades must leave the ground while doing the hollow body hold. It can be challenging to hold your shoulder blades off the floor if you cannot contract your core enough. Know that there isn’t much space between the ground and your body. It would be best if you lifted your shoulder blades enough to build stress on your core.

Tucking your chin

Tucking your chin to your chest is not an appropriate way to perform a hollow hold body. Chin tucking shifts the neck out of neutral alignment, increases the chances of neck strain, and reduces the core muscles stress.

Variation and progression of the hollow body hold

hollow body hold

Several progressions and combinations are possible with the hollow body hold. Variations and progression ensure that everyone will get benefit regardless of their fitness level.

The movements listed below are only a few of the variations;

If the essential hold is too complicated for you, you should try a regression, which is a simpler version. You can switch to advanced variations once you can safely perform the typical hollow hold for around 3 minutes.

Dead bug hold

One of the simplest hollow hold regressions is the dead bug hold. If you’re having trouble performing dead bug hold, keep going till you can comfortably do it for one minute. Once you’re comfortable, progress to the standard hollow body hold.

How to perform dead bug hollow body hold?

  1. Keep your back onto the floor, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and lift your feet off the ground.
  2. Extend arms straight up so that your fingertips point to the ceiling and tuck your chin into your chest. Keep your fingers together to make “blades.” The blade of your hand on the thumb side should be pointing toward your head.
  3. Squeeze your abdominals and softly press your lower back toward the ground while consciously thinking about pushing your ribs slightly toward your pelvis.
  4. Now, keep your lower back pressed to the floor and core engaged in the braced position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat the hold a total of three times.
  5. You can also execute the dead bug with your legs straight up if you want to make it more challenging.
  6. If the bent-knee method becomes too simple, try the straight-knee version.
  7. If you can maintain the position safely, improvise the movement by dropping your leg and opposite arm 6 inches (15 cm) off the ground before returning to the initial appointment.
  8. Repeat for a total of 3 sets containing 10–12 reps each set. Maintain your abdominal brace while performing the position.

Standard hollow hold

The standard hollow hold starts in the same way as the dead bug. On the other hand, the typical grip requires you to straighten your legs and begin descending your legs and arms to the ground.

  1. First, lay on your back, bend your knees toward your chest and lift your feet off the floor.
  2. Extend your arms straight above so that fingertips point to the ceiling and tuck your chin slightly toward your stomach. Keep your fingers together to make “blades.” Position the hand’s blade on the thumb side in this way that is directed toward your head. You may also position the hand on top of the other palm so that your top palm faces the ceiling.      

Squeeze your abdominals and softly press your lower back toward the floor while consciously thinking about pushing your ribs slightly toward your pelvis.

Start lowering your heels to the floor by straightening your legs and pointing your toes.

Drop your arms toward the floor overhead as you lower your legs.

Lower the arms and legs until they’re roughly 6 inches (15 cm) off the ground. Ensure that the elbows and upper back do not come into contact with the environment. Maintain the position for three cycles of 1 minute each.

You can adjust the difficulty either by increasing or decreasing the arms and legs gap to the ground. The hold will be more noticeable when the limbs are closer to the floor. First, lower your legs toward the floor, then start lowering your arms.

Hollow body rock

You’re able to perform the hollow body rock once you maintain a standard hollow body hold for 1 minute.

  1. Acquire the hollow body hold position.
  2. Slowly rock back onto your upper back while maintaining the hollow posture. Your lower back can lift off the floor if you’re holding the position correctly.
  3. Reverse the rock in another direction so that the tailbone is the primary contact point with the floor. Your upper back and mid-back should be entirely free of contact with the ground.
  4. Repeat the rock three times for a total of 15–20 reps.

Hollow body plank

Once you can safely perform hollow hold and rock, the next step is the hollow plank. You can also start performing this hold while holding the stone.

When it comes to triggering the deep lumbar stabilizers, the hollow body plank outperforms typical flat-backed planks.

  1. Initiate the hollow body plank on your hands and knees, facing the floor.
  2. Extend your legs back once you’re in a pushup position, legs straight, and toes in contact with the floor.
  3. To completely protract your shoulders, push through the floor.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and contract your abdominals to draw your ribs closer to your pelvis. Ultimately, your lower back should go from a slightly arched to a slightly rounded position.
  5. Direct your feet as far as you can without sliding your toes off the floor.
  6. Maintain the position for three sets of 30 seconds to one minute per cycle.

Avoid arching your back or putting too much pressure on your spine. The individual should fix his gaze on the ground the entire time.

Hollow body holds concern and errors.

Before starting an exercise program, people with a back-injury history should consult their healthcare provider or a physical therapist.

The hollow body hold is usually considered safe for healthy people if they do in proper form. When training hollow hold variants, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Lower back arched

Instability or disc problems in the lumbar spine may be triggered or aggravated by an arched lower back during a hollow body hold. The arched back can lead to bulging discs and other back problems if left unchecked.

Neck hyperextension

Neck discomfort can be caused by hyperextension of the neck during hollow body holds. Keep your chin semi-tucked while performing hollow body exercises to avoid neck stiffness.

Vertical loading and hollow body

Squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses need a different bracing technique. When a heavyweight presses down on your lower back, rounding will put intense pressure on the discs in your spine. Vertical loading mechanics can keep the range in a neutral position. 

To prevent these problems, work on hollow body strength separately from heavy lifting or exercises that place a load on the spine.


The hollow body hold is a core bracing maneuver that is appropriate for both beginners and advanced athletes. The hollow body hold may enhance spinal stability and core strength, allowing you to perform more challenging exercises, including planche holds, handstands, and pullups. If you’re having trouble completing a standard hollow body hold, start with a more accessible variant like the dead bug. Alternatively, once you’ve mastered the traditional hollow body hold, try out more advanced variants like the body rock or hollow plank. You can also integrate these exercises into your current core training routine or do them separately.

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