Last weekend (Sept 14-15th) i was fortunate to spend over 20 hours across 5 different CrossFit gyms (through country Victoria, Australia) covering several different types of workshops as it pertains to gymnastics strength foundations and specific skills. However, they all had one objective in common –
- making everyone aware of how to train their core properly (so it directly transfers across to skill work and helping with efficiency);
- and how to make your self more accountable (so when you do train your core, you’re actually going to get something out of it!!).
The Hollow Hold
The hollow hold is commonly done through the fitness world and most coaches understand the perceived value of this very important fundamental position and how it transfers to skills on the bar! However, i still feel there is a huge disconnect between coaches getting athletes to do the hollow hold (as they would in a normal class environment) and athletes actually doing the correct progression (i.e suited to their current level of strength) and doing it properly (lower back pushing hard into the floor, shoulders crunching in, legs correct angle etc etc).
Just like adding more weight on the bar, In gymnastics you have to earn the right to graduate to the next level or progression – and the same principle applies with the hollow hold! Everyone needs to start in the ‘tuck hollow’ and build a solid base. Once you’re on top of that, then you can try extending your legs (but they need to be at a 30 degree angle from the floor, not up at 45 degrees). This is where the danger signs begin, as people begin to arch their lower back or not keep their posterior pelvic hip tilt (hips tucked under) in place to the level they had in the tuck hollow, and hence begin to let their core slip. Even if you have your lower back touching the ground, that’s still no reassurance (as a coach and to yourself) to knowing your fully engaged and maximising the full strength potential from this exercise.
A 30-60 second hollow hold with good technique (angles, lower back flat, shoulders high and tight body) should be making you feel like you’re in a world of hurt haha!! This fundamental strength exercise is the building block for so many other exercises and applied to all gymnastics skills. A hollow hold done with a loose body (legs not squeezing tight etc) just doesn’t cut it to transfer to the nice efficient skill work you could be doing on the bar or upside down!
This is why (as you can see in the accompanying video) i made people in my workshops partner up and put a band underneath their partners lower back and really pull it hard (so the person holding the hollow hold had no choice but to engage and push the floor hard). Then if they got through 15 seconds in the tuck position they earned the right to graduate to the straight leg hollow (with hands beside hips). This is where some people were really trying hard and begin to feel how tough this exercise can truly be!
From here, if your band hasn’t slipped and your feet are at the correct angle (30 degrees off the floor) and your shoulders are crunching in (not falling back) then you can finally lift your arms behind your head to the final full hollow hold position – where your core will be on fire!!!!!
So next time you’re doing your hollow hold (which should be every day), try it with a band under your back and plenty of tension in it (tie it to a pole if by yourself) and let me know how you go!
Check out our new ’30 Day Online Core Program’ for our best core workouts to help you get significantly stronger!!