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Build Solid Core Strength with Hollow Holds


There are specific exercises where you will have muscular tension from the get-go, like deadlifting from the floor, squatting out of the hole, and the hollow hold exercise. The hollow what? The hollow hold. If you have difficulty feeling the tension in the abs, the hollow hold is for you because, with this exercise, the muscular tension is real.

Muscular tension is vital when making a lift, getting stronger, or adding muscle. Muscular tension is one or more muscles remaining semi-contracted for a prolonged period. Tension could be the missing link to your performance in and out of the gym.

Here we’ll dive into the hollow hold exercise, how to do it, muscles trained, the benefits and programming suggestions, and three hollow hold variations. Here you’ll experience the true meaning of simple but not easy.

What is the Hollow Hold Exercise

At the heart of the hollow hold is ab shaking muscular tension. The hollow hold has you balanced on your behind with your legs and arms just a few inches off the floor. Extending the arms and legs away from the body decreases your stability, so your core works harder to keep you from collapsing on the floor. Think of it like a plank, but only on your butt. The hollow hold builds an isometric core and anti-rotational strength and makes you aware of muscular tension.

How To Do The Hollow Hold Exercise

  1.     Lie supine on the floor, and find a neutral spine.
  2.     With your feet together, bring them four to six inches off the ground.
  3.     Bring the arms overhead with your biceps by your ears like the ref signaling a touchdown.
  4.     Press your lower back into the ground, contract your core, and feel the burn.

Hollow Hold Muscles Worked

The muscles it works are apparent when you get into the hollow hold position. For the uninitiated, here are the upper and lower body muscles it works. All the muscles listed below work isometrically (muscle contraction without movement).

Lower Body

  • Rectus abdominis
  • Transverse abdominals
  • Obliques
  • Quadriceps
  • Hip Flexors
  • Lower Back

Upper Body

  • Deltoids
  • Pectorals
  • Neck extensors and flexors

Top 4 Hollow Hold Exercise Benefits

Have you ever heard of someone having too much core strength? Neither have I, which is why you should consider including the hollow hold as part of your routine for these four reasons (and probably more).

  1. Great for Both Beginners and Advanced: You can do this exercise if you can lie supine on the ground and raise your arms and legs. Nothing is complex about this movement, but boy, you will feel the burn and have an internal ‘chat’ on whether to quit.
  2. Better Spinal Stability: Performing hollow holds regularly will increase your spine’s ability to stay neutral under load. The compressive and shear forces on your spine while performing many weighted lower body movements are great. By improving the ability to keep a neutral spine while doing hollow holds, you’ll improve the core’s ability to resist unwanted rotational and shearing forces on the spine.
  3. Improved Performance with Other Complex Exercises: Keeping a neutral spine under load and coordinating your abs, hips, and upper body is vital to complex movements like pull-ups,  chin-ups, dips, and ring work. Hollow holds are simple (but not easy) to train the strength necessary to perform complex body weight and loaded movements.
  4. Improved Core Strength: Although the Big 3 and other lower body movements strengthen the core, you need exercises that don’t stress the spine while improving core strength.  Hollow rocks fit this bill perfectly, as they will strengthen your abs, obliques, and spinal erectors while you’re having a good time on the floor.

Common Hollow Hold Mistakes

The hollow hold is simple to perform and not complex like deadlifts or a clean and jerk. But simple does not mean easy, and there are a few things you should watch out for when performing this exercise to get the best out of it.

  1. Keep Your Head and Shoulders Up: When you get tired, your shoulder blades and head tend to drop to the ground, making it more challenging to keep your lower back off the ground. This problem is an easy one to solve. Discontinue the set, rest, and do another quality set.
  2. Raise Them Up Just a Little (Not Too Much): Many lifters think more is better regarding the height of their feet and hands, but it is not. Your feet need to be around 6 inches off the ground because any more than this, you will be putting your legs in an L-shape. And that is not a hollow hold.
  3. Keep It on The Ground: The lower back needs to be glued to the ground for the entire exercise duration, or else the benefits listed above become useless.


Hollow holds are a versatile exercise that can be included in your warmup or as part of a core circuit before the barbell. For example:

1A. Hollow Hold 30 to 60 seconds

1B. Pullover Deadbug 6 reps on each side

1C. Single Leg Hip Extensions 12 reps on each side

Hollow holds supersetted with a strength movement that needs core stability but doesn’t take away from your strength exercise works well. For example.

1A. Barbell Bench Press

1B. Hollow Hold 30 to 60 seconds

Abs and Core Exercises

Hollow, Hold and Roll

Read article


The hollow hold is like many good exercises, as you can progress this when you want to increase your gains. When you master the hollow hold and need to be further challenged, take these progressions out for a spin.

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Hollow tuck

Hollow Tucks

You’ll perform a crunch and a V-up in the hollow hold position. You will drive your knees towards your chest and try to touch your heels with your hands. Performing the crunch increases the work the anterior core and hip flexors do while training more of the core stabilizing muscles.

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Hollow Arch Rolls

Hollow Rolls

While you’re down on the floor, you may as well roll around. Rolling onto your stomach and lower back while in a hollow hold creates rotation force on your spine, increasing the demands on the obliques.

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Weighted Hollow Hold

Weighted Hollow Holds

With the weighted hollow hold, you can use either a weight plate, a light dumbbell, or a kettlebell Due to the weight being further away from the working muscle); you’ll not need much weight here for a significant training effect.

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