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What is a Hollow Body?

The hollow body position is an isometric hold, often used as a standalone core exercise. However, when applied correctly, it can be the basis to develop some creative exercises involving the upper body.


Traditionally, the hollow body position involves laying on the ground with only your bum and lower back in contact with the floor, challenging the anterior aspects of your core for stability.


However, when adjusting for overhead movements, the lower back will also come up off of the ground, leaving your bum to be the only point of contact. 


This position is what we will primarily be using as it doesn’t only challenge the anterior core, but the posterior musculature involved in stabilising the spine. 


There’s also more scope to be creative when doing overhead movements, giving you more options to progress and keep yourself challenged!

The Exercises

There’s nothing I like more than an exercise that gives you back for your buck, and these hollow body variations provide exactly that. The combination of upper body mobility and lower body stability gives you all of the core activation you need to make an effective core exercise.


Using overhead movements whilst having your legs off of the ground challenges your core in two main areas:

– Stabilising the spine to support the overhead movement

– Keeping your legs off of the ground 


With all of these exercises, you want to maintain that hollow body seated position, keeping your spine in a neutral position and limiting as much movement in the trunk and lower body as you can.

Hollow body shoulder press

The hollow body shoulder press is one you’ve most likely seen before. This unilateral exercise is a great way to challenge pretty much every aspect of your core stability, whilst giving your shoulders a workout in the process.

Key tips 

– Start with your weaker shoulder and mimic the number of reps on the stronger side 

– Use opposing arm to balance

– Brace your core, but do not hold your breath

Hollow body overhead rotations

The hollow body overhead rotation is tough. Not only does this challenge your ability to stabilise the spine, but how well you can move through the trunk whilst maintaining that stability

Key tips 

– Focus on turning through the trunk

– Keep your chest proud and body upright

– Brace your core, but do not hold your breath

Hollow body overhead extensions

Hollow body overhead extensions mimic a similar movement pattern to an ab roll out. The key thing here is to avoid extension of the spine (lower back arch), and move through the hips.

Key tips 

– Pull your upper body through the movement as you extend the dumbbell overhead

– Maintain a controlled rhythm

– Brace your core, but do not hold your breath

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Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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