How to Do a Hollow Body Hold: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a hollow body hold to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Dec 13, 2023
Table of Contents

If you experience back pain, then this exercise could very well be your new best friend. Here’s why: The hollow hold is a type of isometric move that you (literally) hold, as opposed to one where you lift and lower. Exercises like this are great for improving strength and stability — in this case, in your core muscles in your abs and back. That can make a huge difference in terms of reducing back pain. 

Plus, most activities you do, from playing catch with your grandkid and lugging a laundry basket to prepping dinner, involve your core. It’s the center of your body, after all. Adding exercises like the hollow body hold to your strength routine can make daily tasks and movement feel breezier.

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Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

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What Is a Hollow Body Hold?

The hollow body hold is sort of like a flipped-over plank, where you lie on your back, brace your core muscles and lift your arms, shoulders, and legs off the floor in a slight C shape. 

What Muscles Does a Hollow Body Hold Work? 

  • Rectus abdominis. You may know it as the "six-pack" muscle. The rectus abdominis is a sheet of muscle that spans the front of your abdomen. It enables you to flex forward at the waist, so you can do things like sit up in bed or bend over to pick something off the floor. 

  • Transverse abdominis. This muscle lies deep within your core underneath your rectus abdominis. It runs parallel to your pelvis and wraps around your midsection to your back — acting like a corset, keeping your torso tight and strong, and protecting your internal organs. 

  • Quadriceps: Strengthening your quads increases knee joint stability and reduces pressure on your knees during activities like walking

  • Glutes. Your butt is composed of three different muscle groups — the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. Holding this exercise requires you to fire all of these butt muscles to keep you stable.

  • Quadratus lumborum is a muscle deep in the lower back that’s essential for spinal stabilization. Strength here has also been associated with reduced back pain.

  • Erector spinae are muscles that run along either side of your spine, and help with back extension, rotation, and stabilization. They’re one of the most powerful muscles in your back.

Benefits of a Hollow Body Hold

Better core strength. A stable core supports many activities like walking, hiking, and lifting and carrying objects. 

More comfortable posture. Physical therapists will tell you that perfect posture is a myth. But a strong core can help you maintain a comfortable upright position, whether you’re sitting at your desk or standing in line at the post office.  

Less low back pain. Isometric moves like the hollow hold boost core strength, and have been shown to lessen back pain and reduce injury risk in general. 

Hollow Body Hold: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Hollow Hold

Hollow Hold

Hollow Hold

Hollow Hold

To do a hollow body hold:

  • Start by lying comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Now, lift your shoulders, arms, and legs off the floor. Straighten your legs, reach your arms overhead and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Your lower back and butt should be the only parts of your body touching the floor.

  • Focus on keeping your abdominals tight as you hold this position. 

  • Relax back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your core, shoulder and leg muscles working.

Your progress is unique to you, so let's look at how to make hollow hold easier, or more challenging.

Hollow Hold Modifications

Hollow Hold Modifications

Hollow Hold Modifications

Hollow Hold Modifications

To make a hollow body hold easier:  

  • Start by lying comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Instead of extending your arms and legs, keep your arms by your sides and lift your knees, keeping them bent, as you hold the position.

To make a hollow body hold harder: 

  • After you lift your shoulders, arms, and legs off the floor, straighten your legs and reach your arms overhead. Then slowly flutter kick your legs as you pull your abdominal muscles in tight. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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  1. Back, Lower Limb, and Upper Limb Pain Among U.S. Adults, 2019 (2021). NCHS Data Brief No. 415. Retrieved from

  2. Lee, B. C. Y., & McGill S. M. (2015). Effect of Long-Term Isometric Training on Core/Torso Stiffness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1515–1526. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000000740

  3. Hlaing, S. S., et al. (2021). Effects of Core Stabilization Exercise and Strengthening Exercise on Proprioception, Balance, Muscle Thickness and Pain Related Outcomes in Patients with Subacute Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 22, no. 1. doi:10.1186/s12891-021-04858-6

  4. Sutanto, D., et al. (2022). Effects of Different Trunk Training Methods for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 19, no. 5, p. 2863. doi:10.3390/ijerph19052863. Accessed 25 May 2022