Do you remember “7min Abs”?
If a core routine could be etched into abdominal infamy it was “_______min Abs”. Everyone from high school athletes to morning news hosts had done some duration of this unending core workout. Promising six packs in less than than a commercial break, my personal favorite “7min Abs” went a little something like this…
:60 Front Plank
:30 Side Plank
:30 Side Plank (opposite side)
then 4 rounds of:
:15 Leg Lowerings
:15 Flutter/Swimmer Kicks
:15 Lying Toe Touch Crunches
:60 Front Plank
Oh nostalgia! The moment I typed in “Lying Toe Touch Crunches” I was immediately brought back to the infield of my high school track. In my mind, I’m wrapping up a sprint workout while my coach barks out unyielding timestamps. Memories.
But is seven, eight, or even eleven minute abs deserving of the title “Greatest Core Routine of All Time”? Me thinks not. You see, for an ab exercise to be great I personally feel it must have both utility and transference. Let’s look at the “Lying Toe Touch Crunches” example and I think you’ll see what I mean.
As you glance at the above image you’ll see the toe touches demonstrated. Most crunches, especially sit ups with legs elevated, are great at targeting the upper part of the rectus abdominis. However, ponder this for me: what else in the gym, or in life for that matter, is dependent on the crunching motion you see depicted? If your answer is rising off the floor or getting out of bed, your head is in the right place, but is waking up in the morning something you really need to train for?
A better way to do Core Work:
If we circle back to the need for abdominal exercises to have transference, I am always going to bias abs that correlate strongly to other gym or life activities. More specifically, core training that teach an individual to 1) resist extension, 2) resist flexion, 3) resist rotation, and 4) produce force. What good is a hundred crunches a day if doesn’t help you shlep around your offspring, lift your own carry-on luggage, or add a few lbs. to your deadlift?
Okay. I get it. No more Crunches. Where can I start?
Might I suggest the Hollow Body Hold. I know, it’s not as glamorously named as “flutter kicks”, yet this potent ab exercise will revolutionize your core training.
The gist of the HBH is to pull the lower aspect of your ribs inline with the top opening of your hip bones (aka ‘neutral’ spine). If you think of the human torso as a slinky, you want all elements to line up compressed and rigid versus bent and open. The natural curvature of the low back isn’t given to any additional extension and the shoulders are lined up with the hips to prevent the upper back from adding to its already natural flexion.
Revisiting this concept of transference, the Hollow Body Hold is predominately aimed at teaching the resistance of extension or arching through the midsection. In doing so, the HBH has great utility as that bracing, robust torso position demands the same tension required for nearly all exercises in the gym. Bottom of a squat? Hollow Body. Start of a deadlift? Hollow Body. Top of an overhead lift like press? Hollow Body. I encourage you to not only play with the Hollow Hold exercise, but think about the other areas of your training it has applicability.
Wait! Before You Start.
I encourage you to watch this short video we filmed on Hollow Body Holds. It covers how to perform the exercise, along with ways to begin or progress the movement.
If you try out Hollow Body Holds, let us know! You can always find us at mspfitness.com, on social media, or at our facility located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. At MSP Fitness, we love to lift, but we also love to lift well. We are a gym that is all about giving you options to pursue fitness and smash your goals, setting new ones along the way! We’ve been serving the West Metro, South Minneapolis, and larger Twin Cities community since 2009, offering private, semi-private, and group training options.
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