How to do a hollow hold: the core-blasting pilates exercise

Unless we’re doing yin yoga, most of the time, we’re busy doing dynamic exercises. And that’s because most fitness benefits come from getting the heart rate racing. But occasionally, you come across a move that tests even the strongest body… by staying completely still.

The hollow hold is such a move. It’s one of the hardest core exercises out there, but once you’ve nailed it, you’ll find that plank, bird dog and scissors become infinitely easier. 

What is a hollow hold?

You may have come across this move in pilates, barre, yoga or even strength classes. It’s a core move that targets every part of the corset-like set of muscles by forcing you to hold your body in anti-gravity suspension. 

The aim of the game is to hold completely still – something you can only do if the core is switched on, the quads are tight and inner thighs are zipped up.

What muscles does a hollow hold work?

The core-based exercise targets:

  • Transverse abdominis (deep core)
  • Rectus abdominis (six pack muscles)
  • Obliques (side muscles)
  • Quads
  • Hip flexors
  • Adductors (inner thighs)
  • Erector spinae 

How to do a hollow hold

  1. Start by lying on your back.
  2. Engage the core to press your lower back into the floor so that there’s no gap between shower blades and coccyx. 
  3. Now, lift the shoulder blades and legs off the floor. Keep the legs straight and arms by your sides (also off the floor).
  4. Hold for 20 seconds.
  5. The lower your feet are to the floor, the more intensely you’ll feel this in your abs. 
  6. You can also lift your arms up overhead for an extra challenge. If that’s too difficult, bend the knees so that your legs are in a table top position.  

Aim to hold for longer periods of time, or lower the feet as much as you dare.

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