Core conditioning – the hollow body
Since I am *not* bendy (le sigh), my strengths as a pole dancer tend to lie with fluidity/flow combined with strength moves, rather than those that showcase flexibility. That means I need to have a strong, solid, stable core.
This post is the first in a series going over some of the conditioning exercises I have been known to throw at my students.
Hollow body core work! This is something that popped up when I was on the search for core exercises for acrobats and aerialists. I figured if gymnasts and Cirque du Soleil types were doing it, I should at least take a look.
Hollow body can be looked at as kind of a takeoff on The Hundred in Pilates, though with very different arm/shoulder positioning. Lie on your back on a mat, drawing your navel toward your spine and pressing your lower back firmly into the mat. I often have my students get into a tucked position so the pelvis is automatically tilted under and the lower back is automatically pressed down to the mat. Now, without “scrunching” them or tightening them, draw your shoulders up toward your ears and raise your arms above your head, then roll your shoulders off the mat and lower your legs to a few inches off the floor. Your lower back should remain pressed against the mat as you draw your navel back to your spine.
The object is to create a shallow bowl with your body, so that the only thing that’s really on the mat is your lower back, and your core is holding everything else in place isometrically.
My favorite method to do hollow body work is to work it in stages. Get into position and hold for 60-120 seconds, take 5-second break, then hold for 45-60 seconds, take another 5-second break, then hold for 15-30 seconds. By the end your entire core could very well be exhausted… in a good way!
If you really want to challenge yourself, do pulses off and on while you’re in the hold. In a word: ouch.
As with all core exercises, don’t forget that you need to breathe! 🙂
Note: be aware that you should not be using your shoulders, neck, and hip flexors to do this exercise. It should engage deep core muscles instead. If you think it’s easy, you’re either already wicked strong, or your form/technique probably isn’t 100% correct. Concentrate on the muscles you’re using to hold your body in position and try again!