One Ab Exercise to Rule Them All

by Michael Plank


At this point, most everyone knows that it’s good to have strong abs. They protect your spine, make you an efficient athlete, provide a solid platform for other strength work, and they look cool. But where to start? There are literally millions of articles on how to train your abs. Should you do crunches? Sit-ups? Leg lifts? Bicycle crunches? It depends. It depends on what you like, what you’re willing to do, and what you want to accomplish. But if your goal is to make your abs strong, there is one clear winner in our opinion: the Hollow.

There is nothing we’ve come across that beats the Hollow position and variations for building incredible core strength. Here’s how to add it into your routine…

Begin by finding a variation from the video that you can hold for 20 seconds (If the bent hollow is too challenging, start with a plank off your elbows, or off your hands, or leaning on a table, or leaning on a wall). Then, 2-5 days each week, do a Tabata of static holds. That is, whichever variation you’ve chosen, hold that position for as many seconds as possible in a 20-second interval, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 7 more times for a total of 4 minutes. (To make it easier, use an online Tabata timer like this one.)

Once that gets easy, move to the next variation. When you can do a Tabata of full hollow holds, drop back to bent hollow holds and start holding the position for as long as possible. Once you are able to hold the variation for 2 minutes, move to the next variation. An unbroken 2-minute full hollow hold reflects elite levels of core strength! This is just a few sentences, but it represents months, or even years of strength training!

(Note: There are a lot of ways to do gymnastics movements that are almost correct, but not quite. Details matter here. It’s much more effective to do a perfect variation that’s “easier” than a sloppy version of a more advanced variation.)

Whatever your physical goals are, whether aesthetic or performance, a stronger set of core muscles will help. And best of all, the hollow variations don’t need any equipment at all and you don’t need more than a few minutes to work on them!