How To Do Full Body Roll-Up


Chris Freytag demonstrating aFull Body Roll-Up


Full body roll-ups are an exercise that strengthens your core and helps lengthen and stretch your back and hamstrings. The full range of motion used in this exercise engages more muscle fibers than many core exercises.

If you learn how to do full body roll-ups you will be learning one of the most standard pilates exercises there is.


Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:

What is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates created Pilates almost 100 years ago. Originally called Contrology, the practice is all about slow controlled movements that deliver serious results. When done correctly, Pilates requires a true mind/body connection and sculpts the abs like no other exercise routine I’ve ever tried.

Having taught this method for the past 10 years (and managing my own chronic back pain with it), I can’t help but throw in a few Full Body Roll-Ups at the end of most of my live and on-demand classes.

Now let’s go back to anatomy class for a minute. As I always say, knowledge is power! If you want a powerful core, let’s solve the mystery of your ab muscles. You have four main abdominal muscles:

Rectus Abdominis – The rectus abdominis runs vertically, flexes the core and is the crunching muscle responsible for creating the ever coveted six-pack.

External and Internal Obliques – The external and internal obliques run diagonally on the side of the torso. They flex the trunk forward, back and sideways and are responsible for rotation of the trunk.

Transversus Abdominis – The transverse abdominis is deep muscle that runs horizontally around your body and often is referred to as your low abs.  I call it your “human girdle” because it helps secure and protect your low back while stabilizing and tightening your low belly. You can locate it by placing your hand below your belly button and coughing. This is the muscle I am always telling you to keep engaged.

Full body roll-ups train the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus – the upper and lower abs all in the same move.

As you slowly roll your body off the floor, you focus on exhaling which helps to pull your ab muscles in and avoid relying on momentum to move. In turn, when you are rolling back down to the floor you use your breath again to help control the descending motion. The strength that builds in your core during this exercise is phenomenal! But it doesn’t end there. All the while you are relying on your core muscle to move you, you are also stretching out your back and hamstrings with each and every roll up.

Putting full body roll-ups into your weekly exercise routine is one of the smartest moves you can make. It is a great way to warm up gently and prepare the body for more, but also an excellent cool-down at the end of any workout.

Back troubles? Try the full body roll-up in our workout 10 best exercises for your bad back.

How To Do Full Body Roll-Ups

1) Start lying on mat with arms extended overhead, legs long, and feet flexed.

2) Inhale as you lift arms up and begin curling chin and chest forward. Exhale as you roll the entire torso up and over legs keeping abs engaged and reaching for toes.

3) Inhale as you begin rolling your spine back down one vertebra at a time and exhale as the upper portion of the back lower and arms reach pack overhead.  Repeat moving slowly and using the abdominals to lift and lower, not momentum.

What Muscles Do Full Body Roll-Ups Work?

Full Body Roll Up is an awesome core strength move that works your abdominal muscles, lower back and stabilizers and stretches your entire backside.

Benefits of Full Body Roll-Ups

There are many reasons you should incorporate Full Body Roll-Up into your workouts. Here are just a few:

Healthier Low Back

The Full Body Roll Up is a move that focuses on stability, strength and overall health of your core and low back. In addition, this move stretches the muscles of the lower back keeping them more flexible. Moves like the Full Body Roll Up will help you avoid low back pain and injury by keeping the muscles that surround your spine strong and flexible.

Sculpts Your Abs

There are so many exercises available for getting sculpted abs. Crunches, planks and all of their variations are the most commonly used. Full Body Roll Up is unique. This move gives you a new and fresh option for sculpting your abs! Based in Pilates, you will find that this move is extremely effective but also feels good while you’re doing it!

Improves Flexibility

The Full Body Roll Up is great for strengthening your core, but it is also an excellent stretch for the entire backside of your body. You stretch your hamstrings, lower back and upper back with the slow, controlled motion.

How Many Calories Do Full Body Roll-Ups Burn?

People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at high intensity. Bottom line – the harder you work, the more calories you burn. But keep in mind that the Full Body Roll Up has benefits that far outweigh burning calories.

Other Exercises Similar to Full Body Roll-Ups

If you like the Full Body Roll Up and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

How to Do Mid-Back Extension

How to Do Bird Dog Crunch

How to Do Side Plank Scoop 

Incorporating Full Body Roll-Ups Into Your Workouts

Full Body Roll Up is an amazing core exercise all on its own! However, you could also incorporate Full Body Roll Up into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.

Use Full Body Roll-Ups In A Core Strength Workout 

It only takes 4 or 5 good moves to get a complete core workout and cover virtually every muscle group in your mid-section. The Full Body Roll Up is incorporated into this next workout that will do just exactly that!

Sculpted Core In 10 Minutes Workout

Full Body Roll Up – 1 minute

Forearm plank – Hold 30 seconds

Modified Side Plank Crunch – 30 seconds right, 30 seconds left

Scissors – 30 seconds

Oblique Crunch – 30 seconds right, 30 seconds left

Sweeping Scissors – 1 minute

Half Roll Back – 1 minute

Double Leg Stretch – 1 minute

Plank to Balance Plank – 1 minute

Forearm Side Plank – 30 seconds right, 30 seconds left

Full Body Roll Up 1 minute

Use Full Body Roll-Ups in Your Yoga Practice

Yoga is such a good workout not only for your flexibility, but for your overall strength and core training. Incorporating the full body roll-up into your yoga practice adds spinal flexibility and core training. Try this short morning yoga series at home:

Quick Yoga Wake-Up To Start Your Day

Happy Baby Pose

Windshield Wiper – 3 times each side

Full Body Roll Up

Cat-Cow- (5 repetitions)

Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog – (repeat series 5 times)

Crescent Lunge Right – Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior

Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog –Downward Dog

Crescent Lunge Left – Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior

Downward dog – Plank – Chaturanga – Upward Dog –Downward Dog

Child’s Pose

Use Full Body Roll-Ups In a Pilates Workout

Full body roll up comes from the Pilates method. Pilates teaches you all about core stability and strength. It’s more than just getting a flat tummy. It’s all about having a strong center, protecting your back and –yes-flattening your belly. Here is a short pilates workout to try at home.

Pilates Please!

Half Roll Back – 10 times

Pilates 100 – use the breath given and count to 100

Swimming – use the breath given and count

Double Leg Stretch – 10 times

Bicycle – 1 minute

Scissors – 1 minute

Full Body Roll Up -6-8 times

Here are 3 more workouts that incorporate the Full Body Roll Up!

7 Things You Can Do To Get A Flat Tummy

Beginner Guide to Pilates

10 Best Exercises For Your Bad Back

Targets: core, shoulders, back

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