The secret is here. It's not new, but its amazing how many people ask me how to get stronger or increase their body tension…but they don’t do this exercise.
The hard cold truth is - we don’t WANT to be better. We just want to instantly BE better without the work. That or we want something else entirely - some idealistic aesthetic like an 8-pack or a stand alone skill like a straight arm straddle on which which we’ve placed some inoconous value and apparently our self worth. Or we like the pain, want to ‘feel’ something burning or some such self-inflicted punishment that makes us feel good about ourselves.
So we make goals. Or at least I do! And recently I found myself quite stuck in this endless loop.
It's easy to make goals, to talk about them even more so. Everyone knows how important it is to make goals and goal setters are constantly praised for their discipline and determination. It's the WORK towards those goals that we suck at. We don’t want hard work. We don’t like it. We don’t post sets of 40 crunches or endless skin-the-cats, we don’t boast about how long we held a plank - we post the RESULTS. We like the trick that needed the work but let's face it - process doesn't get likes, PROGRESS DOES. And I'm 100% guilty of this. However our obsession with the outcome means we often don’t actually travel the distance and then get annoyed when we are still just as far away from our self-imposed 'finish line'. We might do some half-hearted sets of the latest Michelle Bridges or Kayla Itsines or whatever else takes our fancy or stirs our yearnings that week.
But you don’t NEED an 8-pack and you don’t need to loathe yourself into doing the dreaded ‘abs’ in some sort of 'no-pain-no-gain’ fashion. Unless of course that brings you joy and doesn't hurt too much when you laugh ;) But if you're NOT seeing gains in your aerial work on things like inverts, climbing and hip-locks.....
JUST DO THIS.
A simple hold.
Yep that’s right, no crunching, straining, pulsing or wiggling of any sort.
Just HOLD one of the hardest positions you an create with your own body.
If you have a body, then this exercise is for you. Because not only is this exercise perfectly calibrated to everyone’s individual anatomical variance, its achievable anywhere there is a floor! I come back to my previous rantings about making things harder than they seem. This isn’t hard, you just have to do it.
So. What is it?
A dish hold.
Create a shape lying on your back with as much of your back as you can COMFORTABLY articulated with the floor and hold your arms and legs out straight, creating a hollowed out “scooped" body position. You should look like a deep dish pasta bowl and feel like you can’t possibly maintain this for very long.
I can guarantee you don’t see this much (at all) on Instagram. For one thing, the fitness models wouldn’t like the way it tends to make your stomach protrude not to mention the double chin, and Cross-fitters wouldn’t deem it hardcore enough to mention. There is no gasping for air, neanderthal post-squat groans or involuntarily muscle spasm (ah Dodgeball, what a great movie). There is just the epic toughness of the force it takes to both create and hold this shape with your body, creating muscular endurance and body tension up the wazooh.
Ok, how to do it correctly:
What you DON'T have to worry about:
That’s it! Walk yourself into the position by lifting your head and shoulders off the floor and placing your arms either clasped behind your neck or crossed at the wrists, then slowly lower your legs and try to hold for 10 seconds to start with. Repeat x 3 or as many sets as it takes so that you’ve held for a total of 30 seconds. Do this EVERY OTHER DAY and then once a week attempt one BIG hold and see how close you can get to 30 seconds. From there, progress by holding for as long as you can and take your legs lower towards the floor. Runners on? Even better!
I GAURANTEE you’ll will become stronger and more precise in the air and almost instantly see an improvement in your inverts, hip locks and even your climbs!
Just DO IT. Straight leg abs - the only real abdominal work you need do for aerial endeavours.