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Hollow body hold: The core strengthening V exercise
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Hollow body hold: The core strengthening V exercise

The exercise strengthens the transversus abdominis muscle in the core, which provides stability, enhances athletic performance and helps prevent lower back pain

Hollow body hold is a core exercise that mainly activates the transversus abdominis muscle present in the abdomen

Strong core muscles, apart from stabilizing the body and protecting the spine, also improve posture and reduce back pain — making it all the more important to incorporate core exercises into your fitness routine. However, different core exercises target different muscles, with some that should only be done by those at intermediate to advanced fitness levels. One such exercise is the hollow body hold.

The exercise targets several important muscle groups. “The main muscles targeted during the exercise include the transversus abdominis, glutes and abdominal muscles,” says Pooja Mehta, a Mumbai-based sports physiotherapist and chiropractor. “The more you do the exercise, the more you train your muscles, which in turn helps prevent lower back pain, arthritic back pain, disc bulges and other injuries.”

According to a 2019 article published in the HSS Journal, the transversus abdominis muscle (inner abs) is engaged during athletic activities that involve constant motion and change of direction. Apart from stabilizing the trunk and extremities, the muscle also helps avoid lower back pain. Forming the anatomical girdle in combination with the multifidus muscle and the pelvic floor muscles, these compartment muscles provide the all-important stability to the spine.

However, overdoing the exercise can prove detrimental. “The duration of the hold should depend on the strength of the person,” says Mehta. “People can start with a 20-second hold and gradually go up to two minutes. But doing it beyond that can result in overtraining and injury. And at the advanced level, certain add-ons like a kettlebell, Pilates machine or functional cables can be used.”

Precautions to take while doing a hollow body hold

The body position plays an important role in preventing injuries while doing the hollow body hold; breathing is key as well. “During the exercise, the chin and the back, including the thoracic and lumbar spine, must be in a straight line,” shares Mehta. “One should ensure that they don’t sit on the buttocks and lie down properly.”

Mehta advises against holding your breath while maintaining the position, emphasizing normal continuous breathing during the whole workout.

In addition, it’s vital to keep an eye out for stiffness in the lower back. “One must do a proper warm-up before attempting a hollow body hold,” says Samir Mandal, a fitness trainer from Ahmedabad. “There should also be no stiffness in the lower back, as body flexibility is essential to maintain the proper position. So, it should be done under the guidance of a trainer.”

Improper form increases the risk of neck, disc and back injuries. There can also be muscle spasms and even muscle hernias. “Sometimes people bend the body too much, making an acute V-shape, which should not happen. This exercise needs a basic level of strength in the core and lower back. People with lower back pain or disc issues should avoid this workout,” advises Mandal.

Beginners can do a variation of the exercise (for a short duration) where a shallow V-shape can be made by lifting the chin and then the thoracic area and legs to a small height.

Hollow body hold: How does it differ from planks?

Planks are among the first exercises that come to mind when one talks about strengthening exercises for the core muscles. While both hollow body hold and planks are isometric exercises that stabilize the core muscles, they have significant differences.

“In the case of planks, we hold a static position and activate the core muscles along with the shoulders, arms and legs. On the other hand, the hollow body hold is more targeted and engages the transversus abdominis and rectus muscles in addition to with the obliques. In addition, there are different variations of planks, such as prone planks, tabletop planks and side planks. All these variations target different muscles and provide different levels of load.”

Planks are considered a good option, even for beginners. “In the case of planks, the body is supported by the legs and arms, while in hollow body hold, the entire load comes on the lower back,” explains Mandal. “So, I would say that planks are comparatively safer than hollow body hold. However, for an effective workout, people should incorporate both into their routine.”

Takeaways

  • The hollow body hold is a core exercise that mainly activates the transversus abdominis muscle present in the abdomen, which in turn helps improve athletic performance and provides spinal stability.
  • A proper warm-up is crucial before doing the hollow body hold. In addition, an improper form can increase the risk of injuries to the neck, disc and back.
  • The exercise requires a basic level of core and lower back strength. People with lower back pain or disc issues should not perform this exercise.

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