Bicycle Crunch—The Most Effective Ab Exercise, According to Research
When done properly, the bicycle crunch is a great bodyweight exercise that works your abdominals and obliques.
It’s one crunch variation that hits more abs muscle groups than any other crunch.
Yet, it is still a very simple ab workout that requires no equipment to perform except for a yoga mat.
The American Council on Exercise listed the bicycle crunch training (bicycle maneuver) as the number one exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominis, the abdominal muscles that make up your six-pack abs
What Muscles Do Bicycle Crunches Work?
The primary muscles worked in bicycle crunch are the rectus abdominis, hips, and external obliques.
These muscle groups turn your torso from side to side and help you bend sideways at the waist.
Strong obliques also contribute to a stable, well-aligned spine.
If you’re getting bored with the traditional crunch, the bicycle maneuver is a great abdominal exercise to add to your workout.
It will help develop your core strength, shapes up your waistline, and improves your flexibility.
What’s more, a strong core helps you move better and also helps you enhance balance and stability.
Bicycle Crunch with Proper Form
If you’re a beginner, it is important that you perform the exercise in a full range of motion.
If moving the upper body and lower body simultaneously is too difficult, learn the exercise in stages.
Start with just the legs and crunch kicks.
This alone is a great core exercise that helps you build up your core strength.
Once you master the cycling motions, add the twists of your ribs and the upper body as a whole.
To break it down, keeping your legs off the ground targets your lower abs. The rotation activates your obliques.
The pedaling of your legs stimulates the hips.
Since the exercise engages both your upper abs and lower body, you need to develop enough strength to perform it correctly.
How to Do a Bicycle Crunch Correctly
How to Do The Bicycle Crunch
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back on the ground. Lift the shoulder blades off the ground.
- Place your hands behind the back of your head, then left your knees up and hold at the 90-degree angle to our quads.
- Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee.
- Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.
- Continue alternating by bringing the opposite knee to the opposite elbow. Aim for 15-20 repetitions per side.
Trainer tips: Start slow and increase the speed as you become more comfortable with the move.
This will get your heart rate up and improve your core endurance strength.
This will also increase the number of calories you burn during the set.
Do Bicycle Crunches Burn Belly Fat?
Bicycle crunches are a great exercise for your core and ab muscles.
And while any physical activity done on a regular basis can help with weight loss and belly fat, one core exercise like this one alone won’t lead to a drastic fat loss.
To lose weight and burn fat, you need to burn a substantial number of calories.
If your goal is weight loss and a flat belly, combine core exercises like this bicycle crunch variations with calorie-burning cardio workouts.
Are Bicycle Crunches Bad For You?
When done with the right form, this popular bodyweight exercise can help strengthen your obliques, lower abs, and entire core.
But this crunch variation is also a dynamic movement that’s easy to perform incorrectly.
When not done right, you can pull your neck, back, and quads.
The key to getting the exercise work for you is always to do it with the proper form.
The bicycle crunch is a popular ab exercise a lot of people perform in their workout routine, and that’s for a good reason.
This dynamic crunch tones and strengthens your abs, obliques, and core while also engaging your glutes, quadriceps, and thighs.
It’s a good exercise for anyone looking beyond the regular crunch and reverse crunch.
Be sure to learn how to perform this correctly to the get most out of your ab routine.
If you aren’t sure if you are performing it properly, solid help from a personal trainer at your local gym.