Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
I have a few older clients who are really concerned about the bulge in their midsections. Thankfully, they’re just as concerned about their backs and living a pain-free life. If you’re an older guy like me who really wants to strengthen his core, you know that crunches alone won’t do the job.
That said, there are some exercises many older men don’t feel comfortable with for fear of exacerbating any existing core, lower back, or hip problems they have, so I must give them better options. One of these is the hollow hold, one of the best core exercises you can do. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, just get rocking with a variation of the move called the hollow rock.
To set up for the exercise, you must first get into the hollow hold position. Keep in mind the key to it is driving your lower back into the floor. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Squeeze your abs as tight as possible, while raising your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor. Next raise your feet a few inches off the floor. finally, raise your arms toward the ceiling and gradually lower them towards the floor above your head. Your body should resemble the curve of the bottom of a rocking chair. You’re now in the hollow hold position.
Just holding the hollow hold position is tough enough for just about anyone, but once you can own it, you’re now ready to step up to the hollow rock. All you must do is slowly rock your body back and forth, just like a rocking chair. Only your lower back should make contact with the floor—don’t rock up onto your but or let your lower back lift off the ground.. To do this, your abs must be rock solid as you create the momentum with your legs and arms to get the rocking action going.
Keep in mind you don’t want to wildly swing your arms and legs to create momentum. Small rocks back and forth do the job and maximize on your time under tension. One variation you might try is to put your arms in an offset position, where one arm is above your head and one is out to the side. This variation throws you off balance a bit and makes your abs work even harder to fight rotation.
If the hollow rock is too tough for you, work on the hollow hold a little more by holding the position progressively longer. Once you get up to the hollow hold, I suggest starting slowly by rocking back and forth only five times or so for each set. Try four to five sets and work on extending the number of rocks over time to twenty.
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