What is the full nelson sex position? How to try this athletic move and its benefits

Here, a master sexpert explains the full nelson sex position and how to do it safely

Couple lying in bed, laughing and smiling, about to try the full nelson sex position
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The full nelson sex position might have you wondering whether you've accidentally entered the bedroom Olympics, but it's an intense, sexy, and exciting move for those looking to try something entirely new and test the limits of their relationship. 

For any reverse cowgirl-lovers, the full nelson is a real winner. It takes the otherwise tame move and dials it up several notches, incorporating new ways to explore G-spot stimulation that are more at home in Fifty Shades of Grey than in your regular sex self-help book. 

If you're looking to spice things up with an intense move, the perfect addition to your bucket list of the best sex positions to try, then you're in the right place. Here's what a certified master sexpert has to say about the position, how to do it safely, and all the benefits. 

What is the full nelson sex position? 

The full nelson is a sex position named after a wrestling position, says Isabelle Uren (opens in new tab), a certified master sexpert with degrees in psychology and cognitive semiotics. "The penetrating partner lies down on their back and the receiving partner starts in reverse cowgirl," she explains. "They then lean back onto their partner, using their arms to support some of their body weight and help them balance, and lift their legs into a v-shape."

From here, the penetrating partner hooks their arms under their partner's knees and, if the flexibility allows for it, brings their hands together behind the top partner's neck.

Illustration of the full nelson sex position

(Image credit: H.Maddison)

It's without a doubt one of the most advanced sex positions out there, Uren, who is also Bedbible (opens in new tab)'s resident sex and relationship expert, warns. "This is an advanced athletic position that required both partners to be very physically fit," she says. "It incorporates deep, intense thrusting and restraint. The fact it's based on a wrestling move of the same name should be some indication of how difficult it is."

Is the full nelson sex position safe?

Yes, the full nelson can be a perfectly safe sex position if everyone taking part is aware of the risks and knows how to do it properly - but there are some risks involved. "It's pretty risk in terms of injury and requires great care, especially for the top partner's neck," says sexpert Uren. 

"You should also be aware that this position can make it difficult for both partners to breathe properly, so you need to be able to communicate clearly with each other," she adds. 

If you're looking for easier positions, not quite lazy sex positions but ones requiring a little less cardio, then you could try the flat iron sex position or the butterfly sex position

Benefits of the full nelson sex position

1. Domination and submission play

If you've ever wanted to try out BDSM for beginners, here's your chance. The full nelson sex position can enhance feelings of domination and submission, Uren says. "The top partner is essentially being restrained and locked into place by the bottom partner. This is great for couples who love exploring power play."

But this type of play isn't for everyone and consent is key. Talk to your partner about what this position is going to involve beforehand and get their feelings on the dynamic. Communication isn't only going to help you get the most out of this position, it'll help you spice up your relationship overall. 

2. Suitable for vaginal or anal sex

The full nelson isn't limited to those only having heterosexual sex, it's great for anyone who loves either vaginal or anal penetration as the angle allows for easy access to both, without too much of a shift. "Whichever way you decide to try it, be sure to use plenty of the best lube you can find to keep things moving smoothly," says Uren.

3. Deep and intense stimulation

The full nelson is a pretty rough sex position, sexpert Uren warns. "The bottom partner tends to thrust quite hard and deep, which can feel great, but it's important to make sure you are warmed up fully."

Spend some time on foreplay and make double-sure you're fully lubed-up, she suggests. "Stimulate the whole vulva if you're going for vaginal penetration, making sure that everyone is fully aroused before attempting this position."

The full nelson is not for the faint-hearted, and even those more athletic than the average person have been known to struggle with this one, so take it easy. Go slowly and be sure to check in with your partner throughout the move, whether you're trying the position for the first time or not. 

How to make the full nelson sex position even better

If the full nelson isn't spicy enough for you then you can also change things up, lessen the penetrative intensity, and add some clitoral stimulation using one of the best bullet vibrators

But it's more likely that most people will struggle to do this position, so Uren has a suggestion for lightening the load. "I would recommend that the bottom partner uses their hands to secure the bottom partner's legs in the air without locking their hands behind their partner's neck."

Grace Walsh
Health Editor

A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.


She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.