Do you, or a client, have a hard time understanding why hollow holds are so valuable? My experiences suggests that maybe, just maybe, you're doing them wrong. If they aren't challenging, it is because you are making them too easy! In the second half of this article I will talk about two ways to approach progression in the hollow hold, and for those impatient souls, I will get right to the point.
Hollow Harder! Do you guys know about the RKC plank? The idea is that your average, run of the mill plank doesn't engage much, and that you get more bracing tension when surrounding muscle groups tighten up as well. Chip Conrad taught me to do a plank like someone could stand on me.... so I did!
Apply those same principles of tension to the hollow and now you're on a road to Tremble City and a foundation of "core" strength worth building other, more complicated movements off of.
Some people just get how to engage harder, or they can easily be cued with something like "bring your shoulders higher off the ground" or "pretend like I'm about to Godzilla stomp your tum-tum". Others will need the band.
In the band set-up I have my client lie down on their back, bring then knees directly above their hips, then hold the band in a hammer grip above their chest. From there I tell them to crunch up and don't let their shoulders touch the ground or don't let me pull the band back. I slowly walk back with the band until I see some little abdominal twitches or they say I'm at the right place. It doesn't take much, so communicate well and go slowly at first.
Make yourself, The Lever, shorter for beginners, and then extend your body out into a longer position to make it more challenging. Be able to own each position for a minimum of 30 seconds before progressing to the next. My 4 basic shapes for the Hollow are as follows.
- Laying on your back, tuck your knees up until they are directly above your hips. You will start with your straight arms to your sides, then reach up like you're trying to touch your toes. If you executed this properly your shoulders and upper back have now lifted off the ground, and your back is pressed firmly to the ground.
- Get into position #1, lock it down tight, and slowly raise your arms to be directly beside your head. This is a good time to check your neck tension. It should be cranked forward or falling back, just neutral like it would be if you were standing. The most common fault I see is the shoulders dropping to the ground, so be mindful of your position as your arms are going back. but your abs staying tight enough to keep your shoulders raised.
- This next version can also start from position #1. Start there, find tension with your low back pressed into the ground, then extend your legs. When your legs lock straight (think squeezed quads. Tension!) then you can lower them as long as you hold that hollow scooped out position.
- In the last version we transition from position #3 into #4 by bringing your arms directly beside your head. Your low back stays pressed to the ground. You are now creating the longest lever, so this is the progression to work to after practicing the other ones with quality!