Hollow holds and Hollow rocks

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Have you ever wondered what the best way to work your abs is?
hollow holdsWell, you finally found the answer. Hollow holds and Hollow rocks – that’s it, and you can stop reading now 🙂
Maybe you want me to tell you a bit more?
If not, just jump down to the end of this article and find the demonstrations of hollow holds and hollow rocks, plus the progression template and how to include them in killer workouts for your abs and core.
However, if you want to know a bit more, then keep on reading. I will explain to you why these are the best exercises for your abs and why you need them.

These are exactly what I will touch upon:

  • Which muscles are involved in hollow holds and hollow rocks?hollow holds
  • Hollow holds and hollow rocks are isometric exercises and what’s the point with that?
  • Midline stabilization and not just a nice six-pack
  • Stabilization during movements; why is that good?
  • How to do hollow holds and hollow rocks
  • Progression
  • How to include them in a killer workout.
Excited? You better be because mastering these exercises will pay off in many ways.

Which muscles are involved in hollow holds and hollow rocks?

Let’s first understand which muscles we are focusing on when doing hollow holds & rocks. Please look at the picture.core muscles
Often, we say abs or abdominal muscles, as they are called. Yes, exactly the one we think about when we imagine a nice six-pack.
However, when we do hollow holds and hollow rocks, we actually target diaphragm, abdominals, hip flexors, quads, and more. Even our backside needs to be engaged. Therefore, you can call it a core exercise as well.
If you can’t remember all this, just remember six-pack and a healthy back.

Hollow holds and hollow rocks are isometric exercises and what’s the point with that?

Isometric training is when we contract our muscles without shortening or lengthening the muscles. And this is exactly how we want to do the hollow holds & rocks.
hollow hold femaleEverything should stay the same.
The big thing with this kind of training is that we contract all the muscle fibers at once, which means heavy stress on them. And we like to stress our muscles when we want to make them bigger and stronger.
So instead of doing our normal 1000 crunches where the muscle fibers are contracted now and then during the shortening and lengthening, we simply fire everything at once.
Another benefit of this kind of training is that we can really target the muscles we want to work out.
Going back to the example with the 1000 crunches. The sad truth is that, we, during these movements often don’t fire the abs but mostly the hip flexors.
So with isometric training we reach a lot of muscle fibers and it’s easier to target the right ones. If you are interested in more isometric exercises, I have an article here about isometric leg exercises.

Midline stabilization and not just a nice six-packGood posture

So hollow holds and hollow rocks can help you get a six-pack, if that is your goal. But probably, the most important thing you will gain
by doing these exercises is midline stabilization. And why do we want that?
Midline stability refers to the capacity to maintain neutral spine under load through full range of motion. This means that we can keep our spine neutral when we move around and even under load.
This will help us protect our spine during other exercises and when doing daily day routines as well. A healthy spine equals a healthy posture and avoiding a lot of pain.

Stabilization during movements; why is that good?

Stabilization during a steady hold, like the hollow hold, is a great way to train your abs and core. But you will get the biggest benefits when you can stabilize during movements. This means that your body is moving through space, but you stabilize the movement from a central point. In this case, the midline.
What are you talking about? 🙂
Ok, let’s take an example. Let’s imagine a golf swing or a boxing punch.
In order for the arms to deliver a solid and controlled swing or punch, the power needs to be generated from a solid mass. This solid mass is your midline.
If your midline is weak, the power for the movement is only generated from your arms.
Therefore, being able to stabilize your midline during motion will equal more concentrated power, which is beneficial in most sports and physical activities.
So when you are controlling the steady hollow hold for more than 30 seconds, you should start to work on the hollow rocks, which I will explain below.
As a side note, I can mention that when I started to work on hollow holds and hollow rocks I saw a big improvement in exercises like pull-ups, chest to bar and ring/bar muscle-ups. Being able to control my midline made it easier to control the power I created with my arms. You can say that I was able to move as one big concentrated mass.


How to do hollow holds and hollow rocks?

So here we go. If you just jumped from above to this part, you missed a lot 🙂
Anyway, let’s look at how we do these exercises.


Hollow holds:hollow holds details

  • Lie down flat on your back and push your belly button down towards the floor. Your lower back should be touching the ground.
  • Keep your abs and butt tight at all times, and with your arms pointed straight overhead and legs straight with toes pointed.
  • Start raising your legs and shoulders off the ground slowly.
  • Your head should come off the ground along with your shoulders, with your ears glued between your shoulders
  • Stay tight with your abs and butt and find the lowest position you can have your arms and legs without them touching the ground AND without breaking your lower back (where it begins to arch off the ground).
Actually, I took this description from GymnasticWOD, as Carl is an excellent gymnastic coach.

Hollow rocks:

    • Start as above.
    • Start to rock forth and back without breaking the hold at any point – you need to stay solid or else you are not ready yet.


Here comes the important part. Everybody can master these exercises, but we need to start at the right level and then progress, just like anything else in life.
  1. steps to master hollow holdsLie on your back. Hands down at your site. Raise your leg so they are vertical. Make sure your lower back is flat on the ground. With an engaged core, start to lower your legs. If your lower back comes off the ground you have gone too far and needs to reset.
  2. When you know how far down you can go with your legs, it’s time to add the arms. Therefore, lower your legs to the lowest possible level and then stretch your arms above your head as described above. Hold for as long as possible.
  3. The trick is now to progress by getting the legs closer to the ground and holding the position for longer time without breaking the position.
  4. When you can keep the hollow hold with good form (feet 5-7 inches above ground) for 30 sec, it’s time for hollow rocks.
  5. In a good position, simply start to rock without breaking at any point.
  6. If the hold and the rock is too hard, you can try to tuck one leg in and then alternate.

scaled hollow holds

How to include them in a killer workout?

As we start to master the hollow hold, we want to make them part of a workout, not that you have to. You can of course just do them as strength exercises, but why not combine them to get more bang for the bucks?

Strength workout with hollow holds:

In this workout, we will only focus on strength. It’s a “full-body” workout.
Do 5 rounds of:
30-45sec hollow hold
Rest 30sec
15 Push-ups, on knees if needed.
Rest 30sec
30-45sec, wall-sit
Rest 1:30min

HIIT workout with hollow rocks:

It’s important that you master the Hollow rocks before you start to include them in a HIIT workout. Doing them with bad form won’t do you much good.
An alternative is to tuck one leg in or shorten the intervals.
Work 20sec, then rest 20sec X 15 rounds.
Round 1, 4, 7, 10, 13) AMRAP Hollow Rocks
Round 2, 5, 8, 11, 14) AMRAP Handstand Push-ups or Pike Push-ups
Round 3, 6, 9, 12, 15) AMRAP Jumping Squats

That’s it. Now you know everything you need to know about Hollow Holds and Hollow Rocks.
Have fun and please let me know what you think. Also if you are looking for more workouts like these please have a look here.

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