Hollow Body Hold: The Gateway to Stronger CrossFit Gymnastics


One of the most under appreciated training foundations in CrossFit doesn’t include a barbell, set of rings, rowing machine or any other equipment. While you might be focusing your attention on developing a strong pull-up or dip, developing a strong hollow body position is the gateway to stronger gymnastics movements in CrossFit.

The Purpose

In gymnastics, the hollow is drilled through all calibers of gymnasts, from tiny tot to Olympian. The hollow body position allows a gymnast to rotate, twist or lever while controlling power and momentum. In CrossFit, we see the hollow position as critical in almost all movements. Handstands, handstand push-ups, pull-ups, muscle ups and even burpees… yes, I said burpees! The hollow allows us to do one of the most important things in CrossFit, which is to move efficiently and move efficiently with power. As often as we see these movements come up in workouts or skill work, chances are you haven’t practiced the hollow enough.

The Hollow in the Muscle Up

The hollow position is especially important in the muscle up (both strict and kipping). You may have heard or been taught by many coaches when first learning the kipping muscle up to violently throw your hips to the rings and then throw your head over. Chances are this technique hasn’t been successful for you especially when you’re under fatigue, and often begets shoulder pain from catching in a low bottom position. This muscle up technique will miss a key position… you guessed it, the hollow. The hollow position in the pull of the muscle up will allow an athlete to lever on top of the rings much more efficiently. Here is a great demonstration of the hollow body position in action during the pull:

Get to Work

Ideally, you want the hollow position in movements like the muscle up to become muscle memory. Start practicing the hollow and get creative: hold some weight between your feet or hands, hold to the length of a song, hold the rock in place, hold through a round or two of tabata etc. The difficulty of simply holding the position while lying on the ground for more than 30 seconds might surprise you. It is easy to add a hollow hold into your warm up or as a ticket out the door.

Prioritize the hollow position. As CrossFit athletes, the hollow is a huge part of our skill set. As foundational as the hollow hold is in the some most common gymnastics movements, it is interesting to see how many athletes let it collect dust.         

A strong grip on the rings is important to be able to hit all of the positions of the muscle up like the hollow. Using tools such as the False Grips eliminates the weak-grip-barrier, all while you build grip strength. 

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~ False Grips Team