The benefits of bicycle crunches are extensive, even going so far as to stabilize the body and improve balance. These simple exercises go above and beyond standard crunches to work the inner and outer obliques on top of the rectus abdominis. Adding bicycle crunches to your regular strength training workout routine could maximize your core-building technique.
In addition to strengthening your core, you could enjoy a stronger back. Combined with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet, bicycle crunches could lead to a trimmed-down waist. Just like any exercise, you must perform them correctly to avoid injury and receive the most benefit. For those who are unable to complete traditional bicycle crunches, several alternatives are available.
Today we will focus on all the benefits of bicycle crunches, why they are better than standard crunches, and where they rank in reference to being the most effective crunch. Also we’ll cover how to perform a bicycle crunch safely and effectively and offer a modified version. Read on for the ultimate guide to bicycle crunches.
What Are The Benefits Of Bicycle Crunches?
According to an American Council on Exercise study, bicycle crunches have the greatest impact on the rectus abdominis. This abdominal muscle gives us what we refer to as the six-pack. Additionally, they have the second-greatest impact on the obliques. In doing the bicycle exercise, you get the most bang for your buck (3).
By strengthening all your abdominal muscles, you will be well on your way to having a tightened core. Doing this will increase your stability and balance, giving you more ability to do regular activities comfortably. Having weak core muscles can lead to injury, which is something we all want to avoid. Because bicycle crunches target the obliques and the rectus abdominis, you will have a much more profound effect on your overall core strength, including balance and stability (6).
Additionally, because of all the bicycle crunches muscles worked, you’ll have a stronger back. You may prevent low back pain by strengthening the core. In fact, professionals often use several core exercises when their patients complain of this symptom (10).
While there are many bicycle crunch benefits, you must also consider that everyone must perform this exercise correctly. Not taking the proper precautions to move the right way with control and discipline can result in back and hip pain. Additionally, pulling on the neck can result in unnecessary and uncomfortable strain (5).
Are Bicycle Crunches Better?
Bicycle crunches are the more advanced version of crunches. Because of this, the benefits are slightly more improved over those of regular crunches.
While the standard crunch focuses on just the abs, you’ll also work your inner and outer obliques when you perform bicycle crunches. Working these muscles will give you even more support when performing your daily activities or ramping up your workout for more significant gains (5, 8).
Alternatively, you could perform regular crunches and add additional exercises that work the inner and outer obliques. But why not just work them all at once?
Do Bicycle Crunches Slim Your Waist?
Many of us have what we so unfondly refer to as “love handles.” These love handles are due to fat deposits around the hips and midsection.
While bicycle crunches will not burn the fat off your waist, they can help trim away your love handles. By specifically targeting the muscle groups in this area, you can help boost weight loss when combined with a complete workout regimen that includes cardio and weight lifting (11).
Completing 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and a minimum of two days of strength-training activities weekly is essential to achieving a six-pack. Combining this exercise with a healthy diet is key to achieving the waistline of your dreams (7).
The time it takes you to achieve your flat stomach will depend on several key factors:
- Eating habits
- Physical activity
- Underlying physical conditions
While bicycle crunches are a crucial part of achieving a slimmed-down waist, they are not the only thing you need to do and not the only influential factor (1).
What Is The Most Effective Kind Of Crunch?
According to the American Council on Exercise, if you’re looking for the most impact on the rectus abdominis, you’ll want to complete a few sets of bicycle crunches as part of your regular workout routine. This exercise, as mentioned earlier, has the greatest effect on this muscle and, therefore, the greatest impact on defining the coveted six-pack (3).
While they found the captain’s chair exercise to be the best in their study of the obliques, the bicycle crunch was the second most powerful. Because of its effects on the rectus abdominis and the inner and outer obliques, the bicycle crunch should be the go-to exercise. However, you must do it correctly to avoid injury and strain. We will discuss how to do this exercise correctly next (3).
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How To Do Bicycle Crunches?
- Begin by lying on your back on the floor or your workout mat. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You should cross your arms behind your head.
- By stiffening your abdominal muscles, stabilize your spine while at the same time you must pull your shoulders back and down.
- Slowly and gently lift both feet from the floor until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and are 90 degrees to the hips.
- Bend your knees at 90 degrees, relaxing your feet and allowing them to point away from your body.
- Move your right knee toward your chest, letting your knee bend into a deeper angle.
- At the same time, straighten your left leg but keep it elevated from the floor.
- Contract your abdominal muscles to curl your trunk upward.
- Lift your left shoulder blade from the floor and rotate your trunk slowly so your left elbow moves toward your right knee. You should press your lower back into the floor or mat.
- Continue the movement until your left elbow touches or comes close to touching your right knee.
- Hold the position for one to two seconds.
- Slowly return to the starting position where you elevated your legs in steps 3 and 4.
- Repeat the process for the opposite side.
- Complete repetitions until you experience fatigue or are no longer producing quality results due to compromised form.
Mistakes To Avoid With Bicycle Crunches
You should avoid several mistakes while performing bicycle crunches, to ensure that you do not cause yourself injury. You should first keep in mind that this is not a race. You must take your time with the movement. Keeping it slow and controlled is key to being safe.
Never pull your head forward. Your hands are there to support your head, keeping it in line with your upper spine. Additionally, keep your back from rising from the floor during upward movement. It must stay pressed into the floor or mat.
Another huge mistake many make is to allow the rotation to come from their hips. It should come from the trunk. While your legs are moving, use your trunk to flex and rotate. You must remember that this is a core exercise. This means that you must keep your core engaged. It is not a leg workout, so your legs should not feel the burn from doing bicycle crunches (2).
A Simple Modification
If you are not comfortable diving into full bicycle crunches, you can add many alternatives to your routine. The following steps are a modification to the exercise to be completed while standing:
- Begin standing on the floor or a mat.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands behind your head, as in a traditional crunch position.
- Raise your left knee and twist your right elbow across your body toward it.
- Repeat with the other side.
- Complete the desired number of repetitions.
The Bottom Line
While bicycle crunches cannot give you the perfect waistline by themselves, they are a crucial component to the process of achieving one. They take things one step further than standard crunches by working the obliques on top of the rectus abdominis. With all the benefits of bicycle crunches, adding them to your workout makes sense if you are trying to build your best core.
By using the bicycle crunch exercise, you can strengthen your core, increasing your stability and balance. In addition, you will enjoy a stronger back. Many professionals recommend similar core exercises for their patients with lower back pain because of the strength it provides to the core.
Doing this exercise correctly is the key to achieving the most success. It is not a speed race and must be done slowly and precisely. This technique is the best way to avoid injury and get the most from the exercise. If you cannot perform a full bicycle crunch, many variations are available, so you do not have to miss out on this beneficial exercise.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 8 exercises to help achieve a flat stomach (2022, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Ab Exercises | Supine Bicycle Crunches (n.d., acefitness.org)
- American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises (2001, acefitness.org)
- Best Ab Exercises for Beginners (2020, webmd.com)
- Bicycle crunches are better than standard crunches – here’s why (2021, today.com)
- Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
- How long does it take to get abs? Guide and tips (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to Do Crunches and Other Exercises for Toned Abs (2019, healthline.com)
- Fitness Challenge: Abs and Glutes (2014, webmd.com)
- The real-world benefits of strengthening your core (2012, health.harvard.edu)
- What exercises can help reduce love handles? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)