This 1 Strength Move I Did as a Gymnast Will Destroy Your Core
Gymnasts are not just textbook strong; they flip their bodies around defying gravity, so their biceps, abs, and quads need to be downright powerful. Trust me: I slipped on my first leotard at 4 years old and competed for more than a decade, so I know. Learning how to work out at the gym once college came around and my gymnastics days drew to a close was foreign territory, and while the eight-pack I once had is nowhere near where it used to be (and that's OK), my strength is still intact. (Fun fact: I worked out in my rhinestone-studded velvet spandex for the first few months until my roommate finally told me I might want to find something else to wear. At practice, the more sparkly your shorts were, the better, so of course I had them on hand!)
In order to keep up with the physical demand of the sport, we used to do half-hour conditioning sessions at the end of every practice (see some of those moves here). But there was one exercise that always had me and my teammates clutching our core, complaining of how much it burned. Introducing hollow body rocks: the move I still find hard to this day. And if you're familiar with it, I've added some variations you might want to try.
Hollow Body Rocks
You're going to start in a hollow hold position:
- Begin on your back with your legs straight and your arms extended overhead. Actively press your lower back into the floor and draw your belly button into your spine.
- Inhale to slowly lift your shoulders, arms, and legs off the floor. Keep your hands and heels as low to the ground as possible, while still pressing your lower back into the floor. Maintain tight abs and glutes.
- Use your core to propel yourself into a forward rock so that your arms and chest are positioned higher than your legs and feet; then, rock back down, keeping your belly button pulled into your spine and your arms extended. You should be maintaining the hollow position through the entire rock.
- One complete back and forth motion equals one rep. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps or two sets of hollow body rocks for 20 to 30 seconds.
Hollow Body Rocks Variation 2
If these are too challenging with your arms above your head, try them with your arms resting at your thighs. Remember to keep engaging your core.
Hollow Body Rocks With Weights
For added intensity, try these with a five- to 10-pound dumbbell.