(Better Than Crunches) Improve Low Back Pain AND Develop Your Abs With This Exercise

March 16, 2018

Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes (You can count this towards your 15 minutes of daily exercise, leaving you with 8 minutes to experiment with today's exercise!)

Welcome back to Down with the Fitness!

How is your habit of doing 10 squats and drinking a glass of water every morning when you wake up going??

Since starting this blog, I’ve heard from quite a few Rockahoilcs who have been making great improvements to their life by incorporating regular exercise and finding out it’s not so bad! That’s what it’s all about!!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I reach a ton of people I’ve never met here. I don't know your background, goals or injury history... I have to paint the picture of fitness with broad strokes. Find the common ground. Empower the people with the tools to run their own experiments!

This is why I try to instill a sense of gratitude in everyone. I think this is a great place to start because every single human body is filled with so many miracles we all take for granted daily. Meanwhile, airbrushed magazine covers get us thinking “I’m not good enough” while we're trying to check out at the grocery store...

Actually, let’s pause and break a few things down right there. I watched a documentary about how crazy the human mind is last weekend, and it got me thinking:

So your eyes see this magazine cover, pass the image to your brain which instantly deciphers the collection of symbols known as words and turns them into these thoughts and feelings that are now alive inside of you (for better or worse)... I don't know exactly how it works, but it happens in a fraction of a second.

Pretty amazing, right? Your body’s pullin’ magic like that all day, every day!

Most likely those subconscious thoughts and feelings were influenced by past memories... Memories that your brain called up instantly. Maybe without you even noticing! Again, amazing.

Now, maybe like me, you remember being picked on for your appearance at some point. First off, f*** those losers and the insecurities they rode in on. But back to you and your ability to remember stuff... SOMEONE WANNA EXPLAIN MEMORIES TO ME??

Most people can’t. I ask all the time. (People think I’m weird...)

Top-level neuroscientists even don’t fully understand how the brain works. Even in this video that does a pretty good job explaining memories, they preface it with “here’s how scientists THINK it works”, as in, “ahhhhh, we don’t really know for sure…”

So the point is once again, you’re literally incomprehensibly miraculous just how you are!! Still, it’s like, SUPER easy to lose sight of this and get down on yourself in today’s world. I totally get that... Probably moreso than my tone in these blogs would lead you to believe ;)

Speaking from experience, that’s all the more reason why you gotta look inside to find gratitude and positivity every single day. Then you can take that attitude and shine it outward and make this jacked-up crazy world a little better. But you gotta make yourself a little better first. I believe exercise and proper nutrition are the best ways to start doing this.

It can be challenging, but when you’re coming from the mindset I just described, those challenges can be worthy and enjoyable. Trust me, I’m living it.

Just like the memories example above, the emotions we feel when faced with these challenges are a whole other spectacular sequence of stuff taking place inside our bodies that I don’t understand. I just believe there’s a real power in stopping to appreciate the mysterious phenomenons that allow us to experience very real, very human “problems”.

I didn’t have a real plan when I started this blog, but now that we’re a few months in, I’ve noticed two points I’ve hammered over and over are the importance of consistency and gratitude for how ridiculously incredible you are. They really go hand-in-hand.

Be grateful for how extraordinary your body is, then use that gratitude as fuel to consistently treat it a little better by experimenting to find exercises and nutritious foods you enjoy.

IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO SUCK!! That doesn’t mean it’s always gonna be easy. It means there are a million ways to lose weight and get stronger. Find yours! Once you find the one(s) you enjoy, get better and challenge yourself from there.

If you don’t have anywhere to start, this blog features some big bang-for-your-buck bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere any time.These are a good place to begin experimenting, and compliment most other forms of exercise well!

Let’s get to the Hollow Hold. Gymnasts love it and those people are absolutely JACKED, so you know it’s good.

It is super simple for anyone to do anywhere, and super simple to make REAL hard, REAL fast thanks to a little thing called "leverage"! You’ll see what I mean in the video below, as I start in the easiest position and slowly move to the hardest I can handle before starting my set of breaths. If you do what I do in the video, you’ll quickly find your “sweet spot” where your core is burning up keeping your back flat on the ground, but you’re still in control.

3 Focus Points

  • Use your abs to keep your low back in contact with the ground.
  • Tuck your chin and look towards your toes.
  • Keep your legs straight and bring them as low as you can control.

Pace: Pause at your "sweet spot" and take 3-5 deep breaths into your belly, with full exhales. Rest for 1-2 breaths and repeat 3-5 times.

Programming Suggestions: These can be done as your core exercise for the day. Feel free to do them everyday if you really love them. I like to have some variety so usually will alternate between these, planks, and dead bugs.

To Make Them Easier: Start where I start in the video, knees bent and right above hips. Take longer rest breaks.

To Make Them Harder: Slowly bring your legs as low as you can while maintaining control and keeping your back flat on the ground. Then add the arms if you’re up to it. Basically exactly what I do in the video.

Recommended Listening: Pantera "Hollow"


It’s no secret around here how much I love Pantera, and “this love” (hehe) was built largely in the gym, while I was also building my muscles. They are the ultimate lifting band. I really got into them at the same time I started hitting the gym and they’ve been a staple ever since.

Selecting Hollow was a natural fit because of the name, obviously. Unfortunately it also led to this blog taking significantly longer than anticipated, as I’ve been putting Hollow on in the background while I write. Every time it gets to the 3:00 mark I just start jumping around like a madman, screaming the lyrics, and Stone-Colding soda waters so I can crush the can and recklessly toss it in the general vicinity of the recycling bin like a the eco-conscious rebel I am. Point is, it gets rowdy…

As evidenced by This Love, 5 Minutes Alone,  I’m Broken, 25 Years,  and the oft-forgotten gem that is Where You Come From (one of the studio tracks from their live album 101 Proof), Dimebag is the undisputed KING of the outro riff. I feel like if I could write fitness blogs 1/100th as good as he did outros, I could single-handedly solve the obesity epidemic in America.

Even after thousands of combined listens to all the epicness listed in the above paragraph, I still consider the closing riff in Hollow to be Dime’s finest work. Even if it wasn’t, I still would’ve picked it for this exercise. But it is. So crank it up and practice!!

New here? Check out this introductory post to help you put the pieces together and get started with a daily fitness routine!

If you've got any questions/comments/success stories/struggles, feel free to come join the Down With The Fitness Facebook Group

Have Fun, Do Your Best, and Take Great Care!

-Matt Koch