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Dish. The Core Strengthening Exercise that will Change Everything.

Dish. The Core Strengthening Exercise that will Change Everything.

Anyone who comes to our classes knows this position well.  We often include a taste of this ab burner in our warmups (either static dish holds or variations of) because it’s also a very important position in Acro – for both flyers & bases. 

So what is a ‘dish’?

Also known as a ‘hollow hold’ the dish position is an exercise which strengthens your abdominal & oblique muscles, & stabilises your lower back (which is important in the everyday prevention of back injuries).  

Your core is more than your abs!

The ‘Core’ is a group of muscles that wrap entirely around your mid section providing strength, stabilisation & support to your entire body & importantly, your spine.  The strength (or weakness) of your core affects the rest of your body including the way you stand (posture), the way you walk (gait), the way you move during almost every regular daily activity, let alone during physical exercise.  The anatomy of the core includes Rectus Abdominus (front), External Obliques (side) & Erector Spinae (back).  The dish position strengthens all of these muscles & more, including your gluteals, hip flexors, quads + more. 

How should you do it?

The position should be tight – squeeze. everything.

Engage the core, pulling your sternum and pelvis towards one another, engage your glutes, squeeze your legs together squeezing your quads, and of course point your TOES!  Reaching your hands towards your knees should elevate your shoulders off the ground, creating a concave shape from head to toe.

The crucial accuracy of this position is to ensure that your there is no space between your lower back and the floor.  Try this with a friend & see if they can slide their hand between your lower back & the floor.  If they can get their hand in you are not in the correct position.  

Why is it so important? 

For general health & fitness, a strong core is important for good posture, improving balance, prevention of injury & protecting your back.  Think about the anatomy, your core wraps around your body (front, side & back) strength in this area is important to build a strong support system for your entire body.  

Additionally, many of the skills we teach in our acro classes are improved with more core activation.  Allows for a stronger foundation as a base, and a tighter position as a flyer.  

Technique Tips!

  • If you are struggling with the dish hold, try the easier variation to become familiar with the position with proper technique (rather than performing the dish incorrectly – see common incorrect positions below).
  • Aim for a 60 second hold, but if you can only hold the position for a certain amount of time before your back starts to curve, stop there & reset.  Build the strength rather than holding in the incorrect position.
  • Shaking is OK, it means you are working hard! Keep going!

Alternative / Other Exercises

  • You can also hold dish in the plank position (either on hands or elbows). But remember it’s important to make sure your core muscles are engaged properly & correctly, drawing your bellybutton in towards your spine creating that rounded position in the belly.  




Monique Gilbert

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