I’ve got a quick question for you…

When you hear, “core exercise,” what do you think of?

Chances are many of you thought of some sort of Sit-up or Crunch variation.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, really. But there’s actually MANY other ways you can work your core than just Sit-ups and Crunches.

At PEAK Strength and Fitness we take core strength training very seriously. In every single session, we train some type of exercise that hits the core hard, whether we train for stability, anti-rotation, rotation, posture, or a ripped mid-section, everybody knows at some point we’re gonna work the abs/cor somehow.

That’s right, working on your abdominal muscles is not only important when it’s swimsuit season.

Besides the “six-pack” or a “flat tummy” being attractive to many people, the muscles of this region are also very important for being able to produce strength, to be athletic, and to withstand forces.

For instance, a strong core will allow you to lift and carry a lot more weight in the weight room, or even out in your back yard when doing chores. A strong set of abdominal muscles are necessary in sports because the core muscles fire every time you make a move. Finally, the muscles of your mid-section will protect your organs and your spine when you get taken down on the wrestling mat, or if you take a spill down the stairs.

Today, I’m going to share with you a very simple exercise that you can do right in your own home. It requires no equipment, and you can even make it a part of your Commercial Training. Commercial

Training is something I came up with at the recent Strength Camp for Kids, which involves getting down on the floor and doing some sort of exercise as you wait for the commercials to wrap up while watching your favorite shows.

This exercise is called the Hollow Hold.

The Hollow Hold is so named because the position you take is called the Hollow Position. Unlike Crunches, where you do many, many repetitions over and over and over until your core feels like it’s on fire, this one is an isometric hold, because the goal is to maintain this position for time, with no movement at all, and to maintain this position perfectly.

The Hollow position involves driving the lower back flat against the floor and pulling the hips and the ribs closer, in a Crunch position, and held for time.

In picture #1, my lower back is flat on the floor. My abs are firing, trying to keep my hips tucked and my ribs tilted down. You can try out this position as an introduction to the Hollow Hold. Get used to what it feels like having the lower back flat against the floor, and what it takes to fire the abdominal muscles in a way to keep the hips tucked and the ribs crunched downward. This can help you start building endurance within the core muscles as well. However, this is not yet the actual Hollow Hold movement.

The actual Hollow Hold is much more severe and intense, but I MUST emphasize that you HAVE to keep the lower back flat, or else you’re doing it wrong!

Now, you’ll start in the position in picture #1, but over time, your goal is to get into some kind of position that looks more like the position in picture #2. Notice, the back is flat, the hips are tucked, the ribs are crunched, and the shoulders are up off the floor. That last part is very important, because if your shoulders are on the floor, you can perform this exercise about 10 times longer than if they are elevated.

Now, like a new friend in the neighborhood, you know the Hollow Hold. It may not look like much. It may look like anybody can do it, but the Hollow Hold is deceptively hard.

Once you get into the position in picture #2, your legs and feet are lowered, creating a very long lever that pulls at your lower core musculature. Also, with the shoulders elevated and the arms pointing backward, they create another long lever that wreaks havoc on the core, too.

If you try this exercise and get good at it, you can’t help but getting stronger all throughout your entire body. This is because for many people, the core is a weak link, and by developing this area, you’ll see improvements all throughout the body.

I would recommend starting out with the position in picture #1 and doing it until you can hold it for 20 seconds, then you can start to lower the legs and arms downward, away from the stomach, effectively lengthening the lever arms of the movement, and increasing the difficulty of the exercise.

Like I said at the beginning, core strength is important and we take it very seriously here at my gym. If you’re an athlete or someone looking to take your strength to the next level, come on down for a free assessment, and we can start laying plans for how to get you closer to your goals for strength, fitness and athletics.

Thanks for reading and all the best in your training.

Jedd Johnson, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

PEAK Strength and Fitness, Wyalusing PA.