Full Body Crunches: How To, Benefits,…

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Even if you get tired of more standard options, there are many core exercises to choose from. Find out how to do full body crunches.

Full body crunches are a crunch variation where you lie down on your back and move both your hips and shoulders towards each other. At the same time, you also move your arms forward.

This movement will mainly work your abs and to some extent hip flexors.

In turn, doing full body crunches with enough weight, reps, and sets can help you grow and strengthen your abs.

One downside of full body crunches to keep in mind is that it is possible that the swinging of your arms takes over some of the effort for your abs. This would be suboptimal for your ab workout.

Since this arm swinging does not really offer any benefits, something like double crunches where you don’t add this extra upper body movement is often a better choice.

How to do a full body crunch

It is typically smart to do this exercise on a yoga mat or something similar. This will make the movement more comfortable on your back.

That aside, take the following steps to do a full body crunch:

  1. Lie down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Hold your arms stretched above your head.
  2. Slowly move your knees and hips toward your chest. At the same time, crunch up your upper body by slowly raising your shoulders and moving your arms forward.
  3. Return your body to starting position in a controlled motion.
How to do a full body crunch

Full body crunches are a variation where it is easy to use the swinging of your arms and legs instead of your abs.

Since is not desired for your core workout, you want to do the full body crunches at a slow pace.

Something else worth noting is that you want to keep your neck more or less in line with your upper body to avoid discomfort.

Full body crunches muscles worked

The main muscles worked in full body crunches are still your abs, more specifically both the upper and lower part. At least if you don’t swing your arms and legs around too much.

These swinging movements engage your hip flexors and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back) muscles to some extent.

Just because full body crunches work your abs does not mean you will always actually grow and strengthen these muscles.

To achieve these goals, you still need to implement good set and rep ranges of crunches and use enough weight.

For some people that will mean doing full body crunches with weights.

To do this, you can clamp some type of weight between your legs or wear ankle weights and/or hold one or two weights in your hands.

Full body crunch benefits

You do get some extra lower ab engagement and arm and leg swinging but the positive effects of full body crunches are still very similar to the standard crunch exercise benefits.

A few examples include:

  1. Stronger muscles: Doing full body crunches in smart ways can make your abs bigger and stronger.
  2. No equipment or location required: While some people may need extra resistance, full body crunches are often a bodyweight exercise. This makes it so you don’t have to spend money or travel to the gym to do them.
  3. Can make your six-pack more visible: If your body fat percentage is low enough, growing your abs with full body crunches makes your six-pack more visible.
  4. May reduce or prevent back pain: Making your abs stronger with full body crunches can help reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2).

Full body crunches are not unique in these benefits but these can still be good reasons to do this ab exercise more often.

Full body crunch alternatives

You may like the effects of full body crunches but not the arm and leg swinging involved. In that case, there are many full body crunch alternatives you can consider:

  • Double crunches
  • Reverse crunches
  • Regular crunches
  • Hollow body holds
  • Lying leg raises
  • Ab wheel roll-outs

What full body crunch alternatives are the best for you depends on details like what parts of your abs you want to work and whether you want to work them dynamically or not.

Are full body crunches a good exercise?

Full body crunches are a good exercise for working your abs and more specifically both the upper and lower part.

You may need to add weights or make some modifications to your workout plan to actually grow and strengthen your abs by doing full body crunches.

That being said, it is also worth mentioning that the arm and leg swinging in full body crunches are not great for your ab workouts.

Additionally, these extra movements are not really that useful.

In turn, people who don’t necessarily love full body crunches likely want to choose one of the alternatives instead. This will make it easier to really work your abs optimally.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.