You may know that bicycle crunches have the potential to offer benefits. However, you also have to do them in the right amounts and with enough pressure.
How many bicycle crunches you should do and whether you should add any extra resistance depends on your current strength level.
If you can barely complete around 3 sets of 6 bicycle crunches to 6 sets of 50 bicycle crunches, the bodyweight version can be enough to see muscle growth and strength progress if you push yourself to muscle failure.
That being said, over time you can get stronger and/or you could just want to reduce the time you have to spend on an effective core workout.
To do these things you can do weighted bicycle crunches with weights where you can barely complete 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 repetitions.
It is possible that your core muscles recover quickly enough but it is generally a good idea to implement a rest day in between your bicycle crunch workouts to give your muscles time to repair and grow.
How many bicycle crunches to grow and strengthen core muscles
The two main goals most people have with bicycle crunches are growing and strengthening their core muscles.
If you keep your shoulders elevated, you will mainly focus on your obliques. On the flip side, if you really raise and lower your shoulders in each repetition, you will also work your abs a lot.
To grow and strengthen these muscles you have to challenge them with enough resistance and repetitions (and give your body enough nutrients and rest).
Since the abs and obliques are relatively weak, bodyweight bicycle crunches can often be effective and offer nice amounts of results.
If you can barely complete somewhere between 3 sets of 6 bicycle crunches to 6 sets of 50 bicycle crunches, you can likely see some core muscle growth and strength progress.
One thing to note is that you really need to push yourself to muscle failure in these higher-repetition ranges.
Next, let’s say that the above rep and set ranges have become too easy for you or you want to save some time and see results with fewer bicycle crunches.
In that case, you can hold weights against your upper chest and increase this weight as you get stronger. The question is then how many weighted bicycle crunches you should do.
The answer is that you could see core muscle growth and strength results with somewhere between 3 sets of 6 bicycle crunches and 6 sets of 25 repetitions. Increase the weight over time when these ranges become too easy.
Is muscle endurance different?
The recommendations above are for people who want to grow and strengthen their abs and obliques. Another different fitness goal you could have is improving core muscle endurance.
You will likely see some muscle endurance improvements with the repetition and set ranges above but you can also approach your core training in a way that is more effective for this.
More specifically, to improve core muscle endurance with bicycle crunches, you would do 2 to 6 sets of 25 to 50 bicycle crunches.
You generally don’t want to push yourself to complete failure to train muscle endurance with bicycle crunches but you do need to push yourself to some extent to see results.
Because you want to be able to achieve these bigger repetition ranges, you likely don’t have to add weights to bicycle crunches to improve muscle endurance.
Should you do bicycle crunches every day?
When doing resistance training exercises like bicycle crunches you damage your muscles.
This may sound like something you don’t want but it actually starts internal processes that can make the muscles stronger and healthier.
Something to know about this is that your body still needs time (and nutrients) to repair, grow, and strengthen the muscles. That is why it is often recommended to give the areas you worked at least a day of rest.
On the flip side, this is mostly the case for bigger muscle groups. The core muscles you work in bicycle crunches are relatively small and tend to recover quickly.
That being said, you will still be able to see nice results from doing bicycle crunches every other day instead of every single day.
So if you want to really go hard in your core training, you could do your bicycle crunches every day. At the same time, planning a rest day in between each bicycle crunch session is generally recommended to play it safe.
How bicycle crunches should you do to burn calories
As you will see from the numbers below, bicycle crunches are not a great exercise to burn calories. That being said, you may still want to get a more precise estimation of what you can expect in this area.
Some rough estimations are that doing bicycle crunches at a moderate pace for 15 minutes will burn the following amounts of calories for people with certain body weights (1):
- 125 pounds (56 kg) body weight: 41 calories
- 155 pounds (70 kg) body weight: 51 calories
- 185 pounds (83 kg) body weight: 61 calories
- 215 pounds (97 kg) body weight: 71 calories
So if a 155-pound person does around 30 bicycle crunches per minute, this individual can expect to burn around 11 calories with 100 repetitions.
Again, you definitely want to consider other workouts if burning more calories is your main goal.
Will this be enough to lose weight?
Whether or not the amounts of calories burned with bicycle crunches above are enough to see weight loss results also depends on other factors.
To lose weight and more specifically body fat you have to get to a point where your body requires more energy than is coming in from food.
At this point, your body turns to energy stores like body fat to get the remaining energy that is required.
Bicycle crunches can help to a tiny extent with getting to this point or making the difference bigger.
However, other workouts and lifestyle areas like nutrition will typically play a bigger role in whether or not you lose weight while implementing more bicycle crunches into your exercise routine.