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First Things First: Mastering the Hollow Body Position

Christopher Sommer is a very well respected coach from

Have you ever seen someone attempt a front lever, only to pike their hips due to a lack of core strength? Unfortunately, many athletes make this mistake of attempting GST movements that are too advanced without first establishing a proper base. As Coach Christopher Sommer often says in GymnasticBodies Seminars around the globe, "Take care of first things first." For most adults this advice breaks down into two categories: 1) regaining lost mobility, and 2) building a solid foundation of core strength.

The Hollow Body Position

While we have discussed mobility in previous blog posts (here, here, and here), we are going to detail one aspect of core strength in this article, specifically the hollow body position. The benefits to a proper hollow body position are endless when it comes to Gymnastics Strength Training. First and foremost, hollow body work helps you build core strength endurance, something which is absolutely necessary for more advanced work of any kind. In addition, learning the hollow body teaches you how to shape your entire body as one unit. This is an absolute prerequisite for several static positions, such as front levers, planches, and handstands, as well as more dynamic tumbling movements like limbers and walk-overs.

To begin learning how to perform hollow body holds, lie down on your back with your arms by your side and legs bent. For this bent hollow body shape, press your lower back into the floor by drawing your belly button "down" and "in." With your midsection tight, lift your shoulders off the floor by elongating your spine and actively contracting your abs. Also lift your legs and keep your knees bent such that your feet are just a few inches above the floor. Note the details: elbows are locked, legs are together, and toes are pointed.

How long can you hold this position? Do not let your lower back come up off the floor! The entire purpose of a hollow body hold is to challenge all the muscles in the front of your core: diaphragm, abdominals, hip flexors, quads, and more. Any weakness in this anterior chain will result in a loss of shape: shoulders too low, back arching, or legs lifting too high. Push yourself! There is very little risk of injury when performing hollow body holds, so really dig deep and focus on developing work capacity through willpower and discipline!

If you can hold the bent hollow body position with excellent technique, then it is time to try a full hollow body hold. Keep everything the same from the previous two drills, but this time extend your arms straight and overhead, and keep your legs straight and together. You should feel the workload effectively double on your core, and now you really have to fight to prevent your back from arching or your legs from dropping. Stay up! This is the exact kind of core strengthening that pays huge dividends for your future training.

Hollow body holds form the basis of a beginner GST program, and as such they should be absolutely mastered by anyone and everyone looking to reach higher heights in their training.

  1. Just like you need to learn to count before you can add, hollow body holds are a mandatory prerequisite for front levers, planches, handstands, and more.

  2. Begin in a bent hollow body shape by bending your knees and keeping your arms down by your side.

  3. Challenge yourself further with the full hollow body positions with arms overhead and legs straight

For More Great Articles from Christopher Sommer please see his blog at:

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