Adding extra movements to existing exercises can change some things. Find out what clapping crunches are and what this version does.
Clapping crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you start lying down on the ground with your stretched legs hovering above the ground.
After that, you raise your shoulders, move one leg towards your chest, and clap behind this leg.
Compared to regular crunches, clapping crunches engage your abs longer in an isometric way but make the dynamic range of motion slightly smaller.
Besides that, the hand clapping and leg moving only engages your hip flexors, quadriceps, shoulders, and chest a tiny amount.
In simpler words, clapping crunches can be slightly better for improving ab muscle endurance but for growth and strength progress you likely want to stick to regular crunches.
Both variations still require you to use enough weight, reps, and sets to see certain training results.
How to do a clapping crunch
Lying down on a soft surface will make this exercise more comfortable.
With that in mind, take the following steps to do a clapping crunch:
- Lie down on your back with your legs slightly less than stretched and next to each other. Hold your hands in front of your chest for now.
- Raise your legs slightly by pushing your lower back against the ground.
- Slowly raise your shoulders as much as possible while keeping your lower back on the floor. At the same time move one knee to your chest.
- Clap with your hands behind the folded leg and return to the position in step 2 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the movement from step 3 but with your other leg.
- Alternate between steps 3 and 5 while keeping your legs hovering in the air.
It can be tempting to really swing your arms forward and use this momentum to raise your shoulders.
To work your abs with clapping crunches, this is something you want to avoid.
Clapping crunches muscles worked
The main muscles worked during clapping crunches are still your ab muscles.
At the same time, it is true that your obliques, hip flexors, quadriceps, chest muscles, and shoulder muscles will have to work to a certain extent to keep your upper body in position and move your legs and arms.
Clapping crunches will work your ab muscles longer than regular crunches but in an isometric way.
On the flip side, this also means that your abs tend to go through a slightly smaller range of motion under tension.
Additionally, clapping crunches will work the secondary muscles above more than regular crunches.
The result of these things is that clapping crunches are likely slightly better than regular crunches for improving ab muscle endurance but slightly less optimal for actually growing and strengthening these muscles.
Advanced lifters want to keep in mind that they may still need to do clapping crunches with weights to see their desired results.
Clapping crunch benefits
The clapping is definitely more unusual but the positive effects of this variation will mostly be similar to the benefits of regular crunches. A few examples are:
- Stronger muscles: Doing clapping crunches in a good workout plan can make your ab muscles stronger.
- No equipment or location required: Clapping crunches are a bodyweight exercise. This allows you to train at home without any exercise equipment.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Many people can reduce and prevent back pain by doing core strengthening exercises like clapping crunches (1, 2). If you are already dealing with this, it can be smart to talk to an expert first.
Clapping crunches are not necessarily the top option for these benefits but doing this exercise can still offer nice effects.
Clapping crunch alternatives
If you like the benefits of clapping crunches but don’t have a specific preference for the movement, certain exercise alternatives could be better choices.
Some of these exercises include:
- Double crunches
- Regular crunches
- Hanging knee raises
- Ab wheel roll-outs
- Flutter kicks
Double crunches can be good if you want to work both your upper and lower abs a nice amount.
Similarly, these other alternatives have their upsides and downsides which can make them good or bad choices for certain individuals and training goals.
Are clapping crunches a good exercise?
Clapping crunches can be a good exercise for improving endurance in your abs and decent for growing and strengthening these muscles.
For these last two goals, regular crunches and certain other ab exercises tend to be just a bit better.
At the same time, if you really like doing clapping crunches, you can still consider this exercise anyway. Enjoying your workouts more can make it easier to stay consistent.
In the case of all these movements, the principles of resistance training still apply. That means you need to use enough resistance and do enough reps and sets to achieve your training goals.
What are clapping crunches?
Clapping crunches are a variation where you keep your legs stretched and hovering in the air. Additionally, you clap between your legs in each crunch. This will work your abs more isometrically and in a slightly smaller dynamic range of motion.