Body holds and other bodyweight exercises are quite underestimated. They look simple but when you start doing them, you realize how hard they are. Especially if you carry a little bit extra weight, then you really struggle. Bodyweight exercise give your brain a strong signal to decrease your “dead weight” (fat) because it is not efficient to carry it around.
They are a good marker for your relative strength, strength endurance, mobility, proprioception and balance. Because you are contracting many muscles at the same time, you spend quite large time under the tension and grow muscle tissue and with that lose fat.
These two simple body hold exercises that you can do at home while watching TV or socializing with your family will add huge benefits to your core strength.
Sometimes, in simplicity lies the beauty (and in our case, strength).
Our modern lifestyle and one-sidedness of tennis makes it difficult for us to complete these relatively simple exercises, so don’t be surprised if you find them harder than they look. Add the body holds to your repertoire like bread-and-butter (nut butter, that is 😉 ) and keep working on them regularly. You will get strong and awesome!
Hollow Body Hold
This move is a basic movement in gymnastic. You know how strong gymnasts are, right?
- lie down on your back and straighten your legs completely
- keep your knees flexed and toes pointed as far away from your body as possible
- reach your arms overhead and completely stretch your elbows
- always look up into the sky or ceiling
- contract your core/abdominals and lift your legs and arms off the ground
- always press your lower back into the ground while squeezing your entire abdominal wall
- lift your shoulders off the ground slightly and tuck your ribs in
- keep a “C” shape (like a nice banana), and never arch your lower back
Hold for at least one minute. If you cannot hold the entire minute without losing your form, you can bend your knees a little bit, or put your arms by your side. Work yourself to be able to hold this for at least 1 minute, but preferably more, 2–3 minutes.
Arch Body Hold
This moment is as important as the previous one—if not more—because it works the entire backside. If you have any weaknesses in your posterior chain, this movement will expose them naked. That’s a good thing, because strengthening your posterior chain will improve your movement on the court by increasing your power, strength and explosiveness.
Many of us are chronically tight in the front of the body: the hip-flexors, quadriceps, abs, chest, etc. from too much sitting and leaning forward. This arch body hold will not just strengthen the backside, but also open and stretch the front of your body.
- lie facedown on your stomach
- stretch your legs together with pointed toes as far as you can
- stretch your arms overhead as far as you can
- arch your body as much as possible by lifting both upper and lower body as high as you can
- squeeze your glutes and middle back as well, so you don’t use only your lower back
Hold for at least one minute. You will probably shake, tremble, moan, groan, curse and then collapse to the floor before the time is out. Do not worry. The majority of athletes has chronically weak backside. If the movement is too difficult, you can bend your knees or bring your arms down to your side. Keep working on this exercise in addition to other glute strengthening exercises. Also add extra hip-flexor stretches to your regimen.
Keep focusing on these two body hold moves over the course of the next few weeks and see how fast you will improve. Pay attention to your tennis game and athletic performance, because it will improve as well. While the body holds are slightly unpleasant, the results are going to be sweet and rewarding.
Keep holding, and be awesome!