The Flawed Practice of Crunches
When most people think about abdominal strength and exercise, what immediately comes to mind are crunches, which targets both upper and lower abs. Truth be told, there is so much more to your trunk and abdominals than just these! Our bodies have muscles that run bottom-to-top, side-to-side, and diagonally across the abdomen. These don’t just live in the six-pack region either; they blanket your torso, anchored to tissue that supports your low back, and ultimately, tie your upper and lower body together (a vital part of your core strength). So why don’t the old P.E. crunches cut it? Let’s pretend that we are performing the perfect crunch, executed with excellent form. At best, we are working the anterior (front) of the abs, but fail to hit all other angles that I just mentioned. In life and sport, we don’t live in what is called ‘neutral spine.’ If we stayed in this position, we are likely lifeless or well on our way. Rather, our bodies constantly move, bend, flex, and twist. Supporting these daily motions requires a strong core. Rather than crunches, Awaken utilizes hollow-ab exercises as a stepping-stone or foundation to building a strong and sustainable core.
What does a Hollow-Ab Exercise look like?
The full Hollow-Ab shape is shown at the top of this article. An example or a modification for the Full Hollow Ab Position is shown above. It is achieved by scaling back the full hollow but bending the knees and bringing the hands by the hips. This serves to shorten the lever and therefore the amount of strain on the abdomen. This position is an absolute staple of Bodyweight-based Strength Training and a must for any human that plans to move.
Simple, Anywhere, Anytime
The simplicity of the hollow-ab exercise may be mildly anticlimactic, yet you only need lay down and give it a go to understand how challenging and humbling it is to hold this position for close to a minute; especially if you haven’t trained it previously. The flip side to that, however, is that there is no equipment necessary; all you need for hollow exercises is floor space, and a few minutes out of your day.
Truly a Foundation
At Awaken Gym (voted Best Gym in Denver 3 years in a row), we start our athletes training with founder Coach Orench's time-tested techniques that build towards mastering advanced skills, and an overall fit and healthy body in the meantime. Your trunk needs to be strong if you want to gain strength anywhere else in your fitness training.
Immense Skill Transfer
The hollow-ab exercise is absolutely necessary for handstands, front levers, straddle planche and more advanced bodyweight-based movements and skills. The core stability that you will gain from this simple exercise will not only help with higher-level bodyweight skills, but it will trickle down, affecting your everyday life in considerable ways. From basic around-the-house or on-the- job activities to playing hard in sports; you will feel the newfound control in your core, enabling you more compact strength and stability. I personally noticed it most in my rock climbing; after mastering hollow-bodies, it was like I had glue holding me to the wall. Previous to my training at Awaken Gym, I would have continued swinging off the wall like a barn door.
Low Back Pain: More Common Than it Should Be
Lower back pain is one of the most widely experienced health-related issues. It is common knowledge that sitting and not moving is not beneficial for the health of our bodies. However, when we take a deeper look at the issue, we see that the lower back (lumbar spine) is meant for stability, and the upper back (thoracic spine) is meant for mobility. When we are sedentary and lack core strength, our thoracic becomes stiff, while our weak lumbar tries to make up the difference by bending and flexing more than it should. Hollow ab work is just one of the many crucial exercises that will help you become stronger and feeling better than ever.
The Potency of Awaken Programming
The subtle, yet profound techniques and cues used in our techniques are a plain testimony to its effectiveness. My personal favorite aspect of all of this is that by nature, the guesswork has been removed by decades of crafting strong and fit adults using these same methods.