The Bicycle Crunch is a great compound exercise you can do at home. The bicycle crunch is one of the most effective ways to build your abdominal muscles and core strength. Minimal space and no equipment is needed to perform this exercise. The bicycle crunch is a great exercise for beginners and experts in the fitness field because the level of difficulty can be modified or intensified based on the way you position your body or the rate you perform the exercise.
Anatomy of the Bicycle Crunch
The Bicycle Crunch works both the rectus abdominus and obliques while most ab exercises work either one or the other. A compound exercise is an exercise that recruits the muscles of two or more joints in your body. Basically multiple muscles work in unison to perform a movement. This approach is effective because you can work multiple muscles at once. Performing compound exercises are more beneficial than performing isolation exercises. With compound movements, more muscles are being utilized which means more energy is expended and ultimately more fat is burned.
How to Perform a Bicycle Crunch
To perform the bicycle crunch you must first lie down on the floor…
Next, while lying flat on your back, bend your knees…
Next, place your arms behind your head…
Next, raise your feet and shoulder blades off the ground, and hold the position by bracing your abs…
Complete a rep of the bicycle crunch by twisting your torso to touch your right elbow to your left knee while simultaneously straightening your right leg. Perform a second rep by touching your left elbow to your right knee while simultaneously straightening your left leg. When you touch each elbow to each knee make sure you keep your elbows flared out and not pointing forward in order to increase the amount of rotation you need to do for each crunch. Once your elbow touches your knee, hold the position for a few seconds before rotating the other side. Your abdominal muscles should be flexed throughout the exercise and your feet and shoulder blades should never touch the ground. By keeping your feet and shoulder blades off the ground your core remains constantly stimulated.
You should also be conscious about your breathing. Holding your breath throughout the entire exercise will cause unnecessary stress to your body, lead to dizziness, passing out or dangerous elevation of blood pressure. You should deeply inhale when you are in the neutral position and then fully exhale once you rotate your upper body from side to side during the exercise.
To make the exercise even more challenging, perform the bicycle crunch with ankle weights. Also holding a weight behind your head will cause a rise in the intensity of the exercise. The slower you perform the exercise, the more challenging it becomes.
To make the bicycle crunches easier, you can lift your legs higher. The Increased angle between your legs and the floor will put less stress on your lower back. Another option is to keep your knees bent throughout the exercise. The faster you perform the exercise the easier it becomes but performing the bicycle crunch at a slow pace provides more abdominal stimulation.
The primary muscles worked in the bicycle crunch are the rectus abdominus, hips, and obliques. Keeping your legs off the ground targets your lower abs. The rotation activates your obliques. The pedaling of your legs stimulates the hips. The bicycle crunch builds a string core and develops your abdominal muscles so they are more visible. Having a strong core protects your spine and allows you to become stringer in other lifts and athletic activities.
Try It Out!
Due to the fact that no equipment is necessary and you can modify the level of difficultly by simply changing the positon of your legs or speed of the movement, the bicycle crunch is a great exercise to perform at home. For those that don’t want to deal with awkward ab machines at the gym or just don’t have time to have time to add in core exercises during your regular lifting sessions, thanks to exercises like the bicycle crunch, you can develop your abdominal muscles and gain core strength anytime throughout the day.
Find more great home exercises on the F&F Corner!