Men Over 40 Can Work Their Core and Upper Body at the Same Time

Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.

If you want to build core and upper body strength in the same workout, sometimes combo exercises are the way to go. I have two clients in their upper fifties and two in their forties who are totally committed to the hollow body dumbbell press. They know they need to be smarter than settling for endless crunches and pushups for their workouts. The hollow body dumbbell press combines a floor press, which is a great variation to swap in for the bench press if you have any shoulder issues, with a hollow hold, a majorly challenging core move. Due to its multifaceted nature, this is an exercise that is very challenging—but it can help you to hit all the right spots.

To start, lie on your back holding a dumbbell in one or both hands. Hold your arms at about 45 degrees relative to your torso. From there, raise your legs and shoulders a few inches off the floor to go into the hollow body position. Raise your head and shoulders slightly up from the floor by squeezing your core as tightly as possible. Make sure to keep you lower back planted to the floor. If you’re working with a single dumbbell, which with help you to develop coordination and provide and anti-rotation challenge, extend your off arm out to the side. From this position all you must do is press the dumbbell(s) up toward the ceiling, then lower them.

The beauty of this exercise is that your abs are held in an isometric position, which is tough. However, you’re taking on the single-arm variation, you’re fighting for stability at the same time because pressing the dumbbell with one arm is constantly throwing you off balance and testing your anti-rotational strength.

My older clients who do this exercise have all agreed they feel every inch of their abs working like never before. But you’re also working your chest and fighting for shoulder stabilization too. As you will see, there is a lot going on with the hollow body dumbbell press, which makes it tons of fun to do.

If you don’t have the core power to keep your legs elevated with your knees fully extended, try the exercise with your knees slightly bent—just make sure that your lower back stays on the ground. If you work on hollow holds consistently you will develop the ability. If your upper body strength is lacking, simply start with lighter dumbbells and progress over time. Try the hollow body dumbbell press with a light to medium dumbbell for four to five sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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