But activating those muscles doesn’t just happen without training. In fact, there are three moves that Elizabeth Akinwale, a certified personal trainer with a background in competitive gymnastics who is spearheading the Well+Goods Renew Year Movement Plan this month, describes as “foundational gymnastic positions”: arch body, hollow body, and straight body.
And while they’re essential to gymnastics, Akinwale adds, “they’re a great place to start any strength-training program.”
All three moves fully engage your core (which includes your glutes and back) while relying on your arm and leg muscles for support. Akinwale demonstrates each for Well+Good’s in this new video the right way series
Let’s start with the hollow body. Lying on your back, you want to engage your core by tucking in your tailbone, compressing your rib cage, and pushing your lower back into the floor. Then you straighten your arms and legs without bending at the hips or shoulders, so you’re a long curve.
After getting concave, you’ll want to get convex. To arch the body, roll onto your stomach and extend your arms in front of you. Keeping that core tight again, raise your arms and legs off the floor (like a Superman).
“We’re thinking of lifting arms and legs from spinal erectors, backs and joints without any hinges or corners on the body,” Akinwal said. “Making everything nice and fluid.”
Round out the set by becoming a straight line. Still on your stomach, you want to push your hips into the floor while contracting your ribs.
“It’s going to be a delicate movement, but it applies to anything in a straight position,” Akinwal said Think: a handstand, a pull-up, or just standing in everyday life.
Are you ready to fly in the air most easily? Well, maybe not quite yet, but keep contracting and expanding and you’ll get there!