This move targets three abdominal muscles at once

·3-min read
Photo credit: rez-art - Getty Images
Photo credit: rez-art - Getty Images

If you're looking to target your core, may we suggest you ditch regular crunches in favour of bicycle crunches? When done right, bicycle crunches promise to target not one, but three of your abdominal muscles.

Plus, if your home workouts or circuit training sessions are missing that abdominal focus, a bicycle crunch is a low-lift exercise to add in. It requires no equipment, can be done anywhere, and mixes cardio with resistance training.

We asked the experts to break down exactly how to do bicycle crunches, as well as the benefits of doing bicycle crunches regularly.

Which muscles do bicycle crunches work?

"Bicycle crunches, or ab bikes, work your rectus abdominis (your 'six-pack'), external obliques (your sides) and the hips," says Katie Anderson, head of training at Fly Ldn.

But that's not all. "The pedalling of the legs, if off the ground, can work into your transverse abdominis (your deep core) which is a harder muscle to reach," she adds.

What are the benefits of bicycle crunches?

  • Target the superficial and deep core muscles

  • Efficiently fatigue the abdominal muscles

  • Mix cardio and strength

  • Require no equipment

  • Can be done anywhere

With good form, you're not just targeting the superficial abdominal muscles, but the deeper layer too. And you know the importance of a strong core: it increases stability, improves power and lowers your risk of injury.

This ab move is also a great option if you're looking to increase your heart rate during a workout. "Bicycle crunches can also be performed at different tempos to work on endurance while lifting the heart rate, or slow and steady to work on strength," Anderson says.

How to do bicycle crunches

  1. Lie on your back with feet flat on the ground, knees bent and interlace your fingers behind the head or place fingertips to the temples.

  2. Inhale and, as you exhale, peel the shoulder blades off the ground and lift the knees to reverse tabletop. This is your starting position.

  3. From here, twist to draw your right elbow over to the left knee, extending the right leg out as you go.

  4. Inhale and, as you exhale, reverse the movement and repeat on the other side.

How can you make bicycle crunches harder?

Already looking to level up? "To make this exercise tougher, I'd suggest slowing it down and holding for 4 seconds, with a 4-second transition and 4-second hold again," Anderson says.

Avoid this exercise if you're pre or post-natal or have a back injury.

Common bicycle crunch mistakes to watch out for

You might not get it right first (or second, or third) time – that's normal when trying a new exercise. Here are two common ways people tend to go wrong and how to fix them.

You're leading with your neck

Try not to thrust your neck into every movement – be sure to support your head with your hands. Keep a space big enough for a tennis ball under the chin, Anderson advises.

You're arching your lower back

"Be mindful of your lower back arching as the leg extends," Anderson says. To avoid lower back strain, try keeping your knees in tabletop position for the whole exercise.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting