Bicycle Crunches: How To Do, Are They Good,…

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You can work the muscles around your waist with many exercises. Find out how to do bicycle crunches and whether you should.

Bicycle crunches are a variation of regular crunches where you move your shoulders sideways and “cycle” with your feet in the air.

This movement will typically work your obliques in a dynamic way and your abs in a static way. Additionally, your hip flexors have to work a certain amount too.

The result of this is that bicycle crunches can be great for growing and strengthening certain oblique muscles and good for improving ab muscle endurance.

It is worth mentioning that some people will need extra weights to make the movement challenging enough for these goals.

Additionally, if you are interested in growing and strengthening your abs, the regular crunch is likely a better choice.

How to do a bicycle crunch

It can be worth investing in something like a yoga mat if you plan to do bicycle crunches and other floor exercises often. This will make your workouts more comfortable in a good way.

That being said, take the following steps to do a bicycle crunch:

  1. Lie down on your back and keep your hips and knees at 90-degree angles. Loosely hold your hands against the sides of your head.
  2. Raise your shoulders off the ground and push your lower back against the ground.
  3. Reach with one elbow to the knee of the opposite side. At the same time, move this knee to the elbow. Additionally, stretch out your other leg to stay balanced.
  4. Bring your arms and legs back to the position of step two and repeat the same movement with the other elbow first.
  5. Alternate between steps 3 and 4.
How to do a bicycle crunch

A common mistake is that people really pull their heads when doing bicycle crunches. This is not necessary and uncomfortable so likely something you want to avoid.

Theoretically, you could really lower and raise your shoulders after each repetition to work your abs more.

However, this makes the bicycle crunches very clunky.

Muscles worked with bicycle crunches

The main muscles worked with bicycle crunches are your obliques and abs. Your hip flexor (front hip) and quadricep (front thighs) muscles have to work to some extent too to move your legs.

An interesting aspect of bicycle crunches is that they work your obliques actively and abs more passively (aka in an isometric way).

This is relevant because more active exercises tend to be more effective for muscle growth.

Additionally, this makes it so that how many bicycle crunches you should do depends a lot on what muscles you want to work.

Bicycle crunches are mostly effective for growing and strengthening your oblique muscles.

For growth, you would want to do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even 50) bicycle crunches (per side) with resistance that makes these ranges challenging.

More advanced lifters may need to hold crunch workout equipment like a pair of dumbbells to make this happen.

Bicycle crunches benefits

You can definitely say bicycle crunches offer a few benefits. Especially if you approach them in smart ways. Some of the most important upsides include:

  1. Stronger muscles: Bicycle crunches can help you grow and strengthen your obliques and abs which in turn, offers many secondary benefits.
  2. May reduce or prevent back pain: The core strengthening potential of bicycle crunches can help reduce and prevent back pain (1, 2). You do want to be careful with bicycle crunches if you have this issue already.
  3. Can help with losing weight: Since bicycle crunches help you burn calories during the workout and can build a bit of muscle mass, you can say they can help you lose weight. At the same time, keep in mind that bicycle crunches are not that effective for this purpose. You will likely need other lifestyle changes too.
  4. No equipment or location required: All you need to do bicycle crunches is your body and a place to lie down. You don’t need to invest in any equipment or go to a specific location to do your core workout.
  5. Balance & coordination: Bicycle crunches require some balance and coordination to not fall over and move your legs and arms as desired. Challenging yourself in these areas can lead to improvements in your skills.

These benefits of bicycle crunches are often not completely unique but at the same time still valuable.

For certain people and training goals, this can be a good exercise.

Bicycle crunches alternatives

You can also get some or all of the positive points above from other movements. Some bicycle crunch alternatives with similar effects are:

  • Sit-ups
  • Ab wheel V-rolls
  • Sideways knee raises on the captain’s chair
  • Lying sideways toe reaches
  • Plank exercise
  • Crunches

To figure out what bicycle crunches are the best for you, you want to think about what you are trying to achieve and figure out what movements you are comfortable with.

Is the bicycle crunch a good exercise?

The bicycle crunch is a good exercise for growing and strengthening your oblique muscles. You also work your abs to a nice extent which is typically enough to improve endurance in this area.

If you are more advanced when it comes to oblique training, you may need to do bicycle crunches with weights to challenge these muscles enough for growth and strength progress.

Another thing worth mentioning is that more dynamic ab exercises are typically more effective for training these muscles than bicycle crunches.

In short, whether or not bicycle crunches are a good addition to your workout routine depends on details like what you want to train and what exercises you like doing.

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Do bicycle crunches actually work?

Yes, bicycle crunches actually work in the sense that they can grow and strengthen your obliques and abs in combination with a good workout routine.

Are bicycle crunches better than planks?

Bicycle crunches are better than planks for working your oblique muscles. When it comes to growing and strengthening abs, the best option will depend on details like your current strength level.

Do bicycle crunches slim your waist?

Since bicycle crunches make you burn a few extra calories you can say that they can slim your waist a tiny amount. However, bicycle crunches are not effective for this purpose and will not necessarily only target your waist.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.