There are many ways to modify the crunch exercise. Find out how to do long arm crunches and what this changes in your results.
Long arm crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you keep your arms stretched and hold them in one line with your body above your head.
If you don’t swing your arms too much, long arm crunches still mainly work your ab muscles. Even a tiny amount more than regular crunches.
That being said, the extra “risk” of swinging your arms too much is likely not worth the extra challenge.
Most people will even prefer doing weighted crunches with simple household objects over the long arm version.
How to do a long arm crunch
It can be smart to do long arm crunches on a yoga mat or another soft surface. This can make the exercise more comfortable.
That being said, take the following steps to do a long arm crunch:
- Lie down on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Stretch your arms above your head and keep them in one line with your upper body throughout the exercise.
- Raise your shoulders as far as comfortable in a controlled motion but keep your lower back against the floor. Don’t swing your arms.
- Slowly lower your shoulders back to the ground.
The main thing to keep in mind during long arm crunches is that your abs should generate the force for your movements. Do not swing your arms.
Long arm crunches muscles worked
The main muscles worked in long arm crunches are still your abs and more specifically the muscle fibers in the upper part.
You engage your latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back) to a tiny extent to keep your arms in position. However, this is barely worth mentioning compared to how strong these muscles are.
By holding your arms above your head, you make the crunch movement slightly harder for your abs.
Theoretically, this offers just a bit more or faster muscle growth or strength progress for people who find regular crunches somewhat easy.
At the same time, this is not that much compared to just doing weighted crunches.
Even if you don’t have any real exercise equipment, you can use household objects like a heavy backpack or grocery bag to do these.
You typically don’t want to do these weighted variations similar to long arm crunches because this makes it even easier to swing your arms instead of using your abs.
Long arm crunch benefits
Long arm crunches are basically the regular version but slightly more challenging. In turn, the positive effects of this variation are basically the same as the benefits of regular crunches. Some of these are:
- Stronger muscles: Doing a resistance training exercise like long arm crunches the right way can help you grow and strengthen your ab muscles.
- Makes your six-pack more visible: If you lower your body fat percentage enough, growing your abs with long arm crunches makes your six-pack stand out more. Many people will like the way this looks.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Strengthening your abs with exercises like long arm crunches can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2).
- No equipment or location required: You only need your body and a place to lie down to do long arm crunches. This means you don’t have to invest in exercise equipment or spend time driving to the gym.
You likely understand that long arm crunches are not unique in these benefits.
At the same time, these positive effects could be enough to convince you to do more ab and core exercises.
Long arm crunch alternatives
Even if you know there are great long arm crunch alternatives, you could benefit from some inspiration. Some other good core exercises are:
- Other bodyweight crunch variations
- Weighted crunches
- Cable crunches
- Hanging knee raises
- Bicycle crunches
- Ab wheel roll-outs
What long arm crunches you prefer depends on what muscles you want to work, your strength level, the exercise equipment you have, and more.
Are long arm crunches a good exercise?
You can say long arm crunches are a good exercise in the sense that they offer nice amounts of ab muscle growth and strength potential.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the extra challenge of stretching your arms above your head is not that great either.
Additionally, this arm position makes it easier to swing your arms instead of using your abs to do the crunches.
Because of this, most people will prefer doing the regular version with some crunch exercise equipment instead of doing long arm crunches.
Are long arm crunches effective?
Yes, long arm crunches can be effective for growing and strengthening your abs. At the same time, they will only be slightly better than the regular bodyweight version and less good than many weighted variations.