Hollow Body Holds

This is one of the greatest core conditioning exercises out there. It may look simple, but after only a few seconds, you will feel your core burning! Hollow Body Holds will strengthen your entire core and will help condition your body for many other exercises.

Hollow Body Holds 3

How to Perform Hollow Body Holds:
1. Lie down with your back on the floor and hands by your side
2. While keeping your lower back flat on the ground, activate your core to lift your legs, arms and shoulders a few inches off the ground.
3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds (or as long a possible). The image shows the position to hold during a Hollow Body Hold.



TIPS:
1. You must keep your lower back flat on the floor. Keeping your lower back connected with the floor will activate the appropriate muscles for this exercise.
2. You may find yourself shaking during this exercise. As long as you are not uncomfortable, try to push through it. You may shake because your muscles are not used to the tension from this exercise, but it means that your muscles are working hard. Be prepared to be sore tomorrow!
3. BREATHE! Do not hold your breath during this exercise. Focus and take slow deep breaths.
4. Keep your legs tight together!

Have you ever tried Hollow Body Holds? How long can you hold a Hollow Body Hold? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, and ideas for new topics.

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Reverse Crunch (with Stability Ball)

A few days ago, I posted an exercise I frequently do called the Reverse Crunch. That exercise is great for core strength and toning, but when I am at a gym, and there is proper equipment around, I like to mix things up a bit. This following exercise is the same as a Reverse Crunch, but you use a stability ball to add some difficulty. The stability ball adds a small amount of resistance, and it also forces you to use better form. You must tightly squeeze your abdominals in order to lift the ball from the ground and it also does not allow your legs to sway too far from a proper position.

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 1


Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 2

To perform a Reverse Crunch with a Stability Ball:

    1. Find a stability ball that allows you to rest your legs on top while creating a 90 degree angle at your hips and your knees (your calves and feet will be resting on the ball, parallel to the floor).
    2. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    3. Place the Stability ball under your calves, resting against the back of your hamstrings. Your knees should only be a few inches apart.
    4. Squeeze your abs and legs in order to lift the stability ball slightly off the floor (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the right).
    5. While squeezing the stability ball, raise your knees to your chest.
    6. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the right).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 15 reps).

Tips:

    1. Just like any serious ab exercise, control is important! These motions do not depend on momentum, but rather slow controlled motions that engage your muscles.
    2. If this exercise is too difficult, I recommend starting with Reverse Crunches without the Stability Ball. I give step by step directions on how to perform this exercise here: Click Here
    3. Notice that when lowering my legs back down to Position 1, I try not to let the ball touch the floor; this will keep your core activated the entire exercise. If you need to take a break mid-exercise, lower the ball to the floor completely, and when ready, lift the ball off the floor again.
    4. Another possible variation of this exercise, that I find a bit easier to do, would be to have your knees further apart on the ball. The wider your knees are from each other, the easier this exercise appears to be.
    5. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest (from Position 1 to Position 2), and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    6. Squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your entire core.
    7. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, DO NOT hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, and depend solely on your abdominals to perform this exercise.
    8. You will notice that it is common for the ball to slip from your legs during this exercise. Try your hardest to keep it in place. If it does move, simply use your hands to get it back into a proper position and continue the exercise.
    9. Stability balls come in all different sizes. Try to find one that allows you to make a 90 degree angle at your hips and knees, letting your calves and feet lie parallel to the ground while resting on top of the ball.

Let me know what you think of this new variation of the Reverse Crunch. I hope you like it! If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Reverse Crunch

For this blog, I like steering away from conventional situps and crunches because those are exercises I have done for years and almost everybody has tried a basic situp or crunch. Although they definitely still help strengthen your core, I would like to give you some workouts that you may not have seen or tried before to help amp up your core workout routine.

This following exercise is a Reverse Crunch. It targets your core very well and when done correctly you can really feel the squeeze in your abdominals.

Reverse Crunch -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch – Position 1


Reverse Crunch -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch – Position 2


To perform a Reverse Crunch:

    1. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    2. Raise your knees to create a 90 degree angle at your hips and at your knees, leaving your feet parallel to the ground (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the left).
    3. Pull your knees in towards your chest.
    4. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the left).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 25 reps).





Tips:

    1. Controlled motions are needed for this exercise. Do not depend on momentum to get our legs up and down. Engaging your lower abdominals to raise your legs and activating your entire core to perform slow controlled motions is how you will see and feel results.
    2. BREATHE!!! Your breath during this exercise will help activate your muscles. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest, and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    3. Make sure to squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your core.
    4. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, do not hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, that way you will have to depend strictly on your abdominals to perform this exercise.

I hope you like this new exercise. Let me know what you think. If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Leg Pull-Ins/Leg Tucks (Level 1)

Leg Pull-In: Position 1

Leg Pull-In: Position 1

The Leg Pull-In is an exercise that specifically activates your upper, middle, and lower abs. The reason I really enjoy this workout is because anyone from a beginner to a professional fitness instructor can benefit from this exercise, and it also is a great transition workout to do between exercises.

To perform a Leg Pull-In:

    1. Find an open space on the floor.
    2. Lean slightly backward (about a 45 degree angle).
    3. Place your hands on the floor, behind your hips, with your fingertips facing forward (toward your legs).
    4. Keep your legs straight and raise them a few inches off the floor (You are now in position 1 of the exercise as seen in the picture above).
    5. While exhaling and tightening your abs, bring your knees toward your chest and raise your torso slightly toward your knees(This is position 2 of the exercise as seen in the picture below). Hold this position for about one second.
    6. Extend back out to position 1 and hold for one second.
    7. Repeat switching between Position 1 and 2 for the determined amount of reps (I usually do about 20 reps).

Leg Pull-In: Position 2

Leg Pull-In: Position 2


Tips:

    1. Exhale while bringing your knees in. When exhaling you will be able to tighten and activate your abs more effectively.
    2. If you are new to this workout, try doing between 5-10 reps, and then increasing the amount of reps you do per set once you become stronger.
    3. This exercise can also be done on a bench or seat. Simply place your hands on the edge of the bench/seat and extend your legs out.
    4. This is one of my favorite transition exercises to do between more intense exercises such as a bench press or shoulder press. This workout will help keep your heart rate up while only exhausting your core muscles and giving the other muscles you may be training some rest between sets.
    5. To increase the intensity of the workout, move your hands next to your hips instead of behind you. This will help activate your entire core more effectively.
    6. For more advanced people, you can add weight to the exercise by using weighted ankle wraps, placing a dumbbell between your feet, or using the cable machine and strapping the cables to your ankles. WARNING: Be very careful when adding weight to any ab workout. Adding too much weight before your body is ready can cause serious injury or hernias.

Hope you enjoy this workout! If you have any questions of concerns, contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com