Riyan Parag
Fitness Training

Learn the hollow body hold which gets Riyan Parag fit for cricket

© Rajasthan Royals
The upcoming Indian all-rounder describes the exercise and why he loves using it to build a stronger core.
Written by Sean SequeiraPublished on
Riyan Parag is one of India’s future cricket stars.
He has put in incredible efforts at youth-level cricket, winning the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He has also represented his Assam state team in various domestic tournaments and shone bright for Rajasthan Royals in the world’s biggest T20 franchise league.
As a hard-hitting batting all-rounder, Riyan’s focus has been on strength, conditioning and overall fitness. And he loves to work on his core with the hollow body hold. Here he describes the exercise and how he makes the most of it.

Name of the exercise: Hollow body hold

The hollow body hold is a lesser-known but very effective exercise for core muscles, particularly the abs. The hollow body position can also form the base for many other exercises.
Riyan learnt about the exercise while researching core workouts. “I am not sure what it is called as I learned about it online,” says Riyan.

What is the hollow body hold?

The hollow body hold is a basic gymnastics and Pilates exercise that helps build strength in the anterior core muscles; that is, the core muscles in the front of your body. The exercise requires you to lay with your back on the ground with your legs and shoulders in the air so your core muscles are activated to hold the position.

Targeted muscle groups

The hollow body hold engages the abs, obliques, hip flexors and quads. “It basically works your entire core and abdominal muscles,” says Riyan. It is a great exercise for ab muscles, especially if someone suffers from lower back pain and has difficulty doing crunches.

Benefits of the hollow body hold

The most important benefit of the hollow body hold is strengthening of the abdominal and oblique muscles. “It strengthens the core and helps you lose belly fat,” says Riyan.
Building core strength aids with everyday activities and athletic performance. Since the body generates power from the core, a stronger core means improved performance with everything you do. Hollow body holds also aid to some extent in building stability and balance.

How to perform the exercise

The correct technique to a hollow body hold is to lay with your back on the ground with legs and arms extended; arms straight overhead. From this position, lift your legs and shoulders so only your lower body is in contact with the ground, keeping your arms and legs extended at all times. With your arms and legs off the floor, hold the position as long as possible.
“The correct form is to always keep the core activated and not stress the back muscles at all. So your core takes all the pressure and you get stronger abs,” says Riyan.

How hollow body holds help Riyan in cricket

The core muscles are very important when playing cricket, especially for a power hitter like Riyan. When batting, Riyan generates power for his swing from the core, so stronger core muscles help him hit the ball harder.
“The core is very important; the stronger it is, the less stress on the back. And that leads to less back injuries,” says Riyan.

What to avoid when doing hollow body holds

When performing the hollow body hold, always remember to keep your toes pointed to get the best out of the exercise. Do not tuck your chin into your chest or it could put a strain on your neck and cause breathing restrictions. Also, if you experience pain in the lower back, it is likely that you are doing the exercise wrong so focus on your form.
Below are Riyan’s tips for when you are doing the exercise.
  • Do’s: Activate your core and glutes
  • Don’ts: Don’t use your back muscles for support

Variations that can help you further

The simplest way to get the most out of the exercise is to progress slowly by increasing the amount of time you maintain the hold. “A common variation will be to increase the timing of each exercise,” says Riyan.
For absolute beginners having trouble with the extended hold, a great place to start is by keeping a slight bend in your knees instead of full leg extension and arms stretching toward your toes instead of extended overhead. But while doing this, your legs and shoulders should still always be off the ground.
Once you’ve mastered the hollow body hold, you can try variations like hollow body rocks or hollow body hold with dumbbell press. The body position of the hollow body hold can also be a base for other exercises like hollow body planks.