Learn how to Do the Bicycle Crunch for Sharp Abs and Obliques

Ab workouts are one of many few varieties of train that some persons are instinctively drawn to whether or not they’re devoted lifters or not. Many individuals use ab workout routines as an entry level into some kind of standard train, which is nice. Hopefully they finally transfer on to include coaching their different physique components, however a begin is a begin.

Whether or not it’s performing crunches earlier than breakfast or sit-ups earlier than mattress, some folks make constant ab coaching a precedence. Some even take it a step additional and use progressively tougher workout routines, which is the place the bicycle crunch usually seems.

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By combining a rotational higher physique motion with decrease physique coordination, the bicycle crunch can successfully practice your abdominals and indirect muscle tissue in unison. This makes it an efficient muscle-builder whereas additionally creating athletic core power that may carry over to efficiency on the sphere, within the ring, or on the lifting platform. Right here’s tips on how to get probably the most out of this entire core-builder.

Bicycle Crunch

Learn how to Do the Bicycle Crunch Step By Step

The bicycle crunch could appear to be it requires “pat your head and rub your abdomen”-levels of total-body coordination, however it doesn’t. Break the train into its element components and you may be taught the method.

Step 1 — Lie on the Floor

Person on gym floor doing ab crunch
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Lie face up on the bottom along with your legs bent at roughly 90-degrees. Your toes ought to be within the air along with your toes pointed up. Relaxation your head on the bottom and produce your fingers to your ears. Let your fingertips barely contact your head behind your ears along with your palms dealing with the ceiling.

This can be a acquainted setup for a lot of ground-based ab workout routines whether or not it’s a full sit-up, crunch, or any associated variation. Some workout routines would have your toes planted flat on the bottom, however the bicycle crunch requires your legs to start within the air.

Type Tip: Don’t interlock your fingers and cradle the again of your head. This could put you in place to unconsciously crank your neck to finish repetitions. Your fingers ought to flippantly contact the perimeters of your head or your ears.

Step 2 — Pedal the Bike

Muscular person in gym doing bicycle crunch
Credit score: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock

The bicycle crunch will get its descriptive identify from the decrease physique motion that seems much like using a motorbike. Contract your core muscle tissue to lift each shoulders barely off the bottom. As your torso comes up, convey your left leg up and in towards your higher physique.

On the identical time, “crunch” your higher physique ahead and lean your proper facet towards the approaching leg. The vary of movement will likely be comparatively quick, so give attention to bringing the other sides collectively.

Don’t overfocus on reaching your elbow to your knee. That may result in flapping your arms with diminished core activation. As an alternative, take into consideration bringing one shoulder towards the other knee regardless that they don’t want to truly contact on the prime of the motion.

Type Tip: Visualize an X-shaped band throughout the entrance of your physique. As you progress, take into consideration every line drawing one leg and the other shoulder nearer collectively.

Step 3 — Repeat the Rhythm

Long-haired person outdoors doing bicycle crunches on floor
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After a robust contraction on the prime, prolong your left leg ahead whereas reducing your higher physique to the ground. When your shoulders are on the bottom and your leg is returned to the beginning place, easily transition to repeat the motion with the opposite facet.

Draw your proper leg towards your torso whereas crunching your higher physique ahead and leaning the left facet of your physique into the approaching leg. As you full a number of repetitions, alternating sides with every rep, chances are you’ll finally discover a pure rhythm not not like the rhythm wanted to pedal a motorbike easily.

Type Tip: Carry out every repetition slowly at first. Concentrate on the cross-body activation and core recruitment. As you turn out to be extra snug with the motion, progressively improve the pace with out sacrificing the standard of particular person reps.

Bicycle Crunch Errors to Keep away from

As a result of the bicycle crunch includes your legs and torso working collectively, there are a number of alternatives for issues to go fallacious. Listed here are some huge points to be careful for.

Elbows Flapping

Some folks misread the cross-body motion of bringing their legs and higher physique collectively, and find yourself swinging their higher arms and elbows towards their knee as an alternative of activating their abdominals.

person on floor doing bicycle crunch
Credit score: Desizned / Shutterstock

This not solely reduces the work carried out by your abs, however it might doubtlessly pressure your shoulders or neck. Maintain the motion strict, keep give attention to feeling your abdominals working to crate the motion, and don’t make it a precedence to pressure your elbow and knee to the touch in the course of your physique.

Keep away from it: Maintain your fingers very flippantly in opposition to your head, which can make any shoulder or elbow motion extra noticeable. As you crunch, preserve your elbows “again” practically in step with your ears. Don’t enable them to level ahead.

Shoulders Keep within the Air

One unhealthy behavior some folks develop when performing high-rep units of bicycle crunches is holding an ab contraction, remaining within the prime of a crunch place, whereas “pedaling” their legs and explosively rotating their shoulders backwards and forwards.

person in home gym doing bicycle crunch
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

Whereas this could doubtlessly improve some work in your indirect muscle tissue, you’re short-changing your abdominals since you’re holding a static contraction as an alternative of working by means of a spread of movement.

Keep away from it: Deal with every part of the motion as separate components — crunch and twist in a single path, decrease totally, crunch and twist to the other facet, decrease totally once more, repeat. Don’t attempt to rush by means of the set by finishing reps as shortly as attainable.

Not Sufficient Leg Motion

The bicycle crunch requires you to drive one leg up with every repetition. Performing the higher physique motion with out additionally “working” your decrease physique adjustments the train. As an alternative of a bicycle crunch, it turns into a comparatively extra primary twisting crunch.

Muscular person outdoors doing bicycle crunch
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This may be an efficient train by itself benefit, however it doesn’t provide the identical decrease ab and hip flexor recruitment of the bicycle crunch. (1) For those who start a set meaning to get the advantages of the bicycle crunch, make it possible for’s the motion you find yourself performing.

Keep away from it: In case your legs aren’t transferring, you’re not performing a bicycle crunch. With every repetition, draw your leg in towards your higher physique and prolong it as the other facet strikes.

Learn how to Progress the Bicycle Crunch

Though it’s a bodyweight exercise, the bicycle crunch will be thought-about comparatively superior since you’re working your higher and decrease physique collectively. Work as much as the total motion by mastering these foundational actions.


Arguably probably the most elementary ab train of all time, the fundamental flooring crunch is a necessary motion to be accustomed to. The crunch provides decrease physique stability, along with your toes firmly on the bottom. The motion additionally allows you to zone-in on creating a robust stomach contraction over a brief vary of movement.

Be certain to not flip the crunch right into a full sit-up by elevating your torso too excessive. The sit-up can be an efficient train however it received’t carry over as instantly when constructing to a bicycle crunch.

Twisting Crunch

As talked about earlier, failing to correctly incorporate your legs into the train turns the bicycle crunch right into a twisting crunch. Nonetheless, you may flip that scenario round by intentionally performing the twisting crunch as a method to construct up core power for the extra superior bicycle crunch.

By studying tips on how to crunch “up and over,” you’re recruiting your obliques and abdominals right into a single motion. Whenever you turn out to be snug and succesful with the twisting crunch, add the alternating leg motion to evolve the train into the bicycle crunch.

Advantages of the Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch recruits your total core by involving your higher physique and decrease physique with rotational motion. This makes it a flexible and efficient train for a lot of elementary targets.

Core Power

Athletes in conventional sports activities, strength sports athletes, and leisure lifters can all profit from a stronger core. Core power has additionally been proven to assist cut back decrease again ache. (2)

The bicycle crunch will be an environment friendly addition to a complete core-strengthening routine. The train works higher and decrease physique coordination and power switch, whereas additionally activating the obliques, which might play a serious function in lots of athletic actions from working to throwing.

Ab Muscle Improvement

The higher abdominals are recruited in lots of ab workout routines, however the decrease abs are solely closely activated when the hips and decrease physique are concerned in a given motion. The bicycle crunch achieves this elevated muscle activation by means of repetitive leg motion.

The twisting movement of the torso additionally prompts the indirect muscle tissue, that are strongly recruited throughout rotational actions. As a result of it maximizes activation of a number of totally different ab muscle tissue, the bicycle crunch is a really complete body weight ab train.

Muscle groups Labored by the Bicycle Crunch

Most ab workout routines, as anticipated, practice your abs. The bicycle crunch kicks it up a notch by involving rotational motion which additionally recruits the obliques on the perimeters of your abs.


Your abdominals, or rectus abdominis, run alongside the entrance of your torso from the underside of your chest to your hips. The abdominals are technically one single muscle with varied muscle insertions, which suggests the muscle must be skilled with a wide range of actions for full growth. (3)

Muscular person standing outdoors flexing ab muscles
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Basically, actions centered on curling the trunk with a secure decrease physique will emphasize the “higher” portion of the abs whereas actions that emphasize curling the hips with a secure higher physique, comparable to a reverse crunch, are more practical at recruiting the “decrease” part of the muscle.


The obliques are a pair of muscle tissue on both facet of your abdominals, close to your hips. Your obliques primarily work to rotate your torso, in addition to resist rotation. The indirect muscle tissue are additionally activated facet facet flexion — bringing your shoulder nearer to your hip in a sideways movement.

In the course of the bicycle crunch, your obliques are strongly recruited as your torso twists within the path of your approaching leg. So-called “love handles” are sometimes physique fats that your genetics have determined to retailer close to your indirect muscle tissue. Opposite to common fable, coaching your indirect muscle tissue won’t create love handles.

Learn how to Program the Bicycle Crunch

As an environment friendly ab train, the bicycle crunch can discover a dwelling in any well-planned ab exercise. Listed here are a couple of pointers to get much more profit.

Unweighted, Reasonable to Excessive Repetition

The character of the bicycle crunch motion doesn’t lend itself to including exterior resistance. Carrying a weighted vest can impede torso rotation and including leg weights will excessively fatigue your smaller hip flexor muscle tissue earlier than focusing on your ab muscle tissue.

To get probably the most out of the train, use solely your physique weight as resistance and give attention to attaining a robust muscular contraction with every repetition. Attempt finishing two to 4 units of 10 to twenty repetitions. Rely as soon as to every facet as a facet rep — left leg to proper shoulder adopted by proper leg to left shoulder could be one single repetition, not two.

Body weight Circuit

As a result of the one “gear” required to do the bicycle crunch is a transparent part of flooring, the train makes an environment friendly addition to a body weight train circuit (technically a exercise complex, if all of the workout routines are bodyweight-only). For a fast and efficient conditioning exercise, attempt the next for 3 to 5 whole circuits.

  • Reverse Lunge — 10 reps per leg
  • Push-up — 15 reps
  • Bicycle crunch — 20 reps

Bicycle Crunch Variations

Whether or not you’ve mastered the bicycle crunch or want one other full core-building train to enrich it, listed here are a few of the most comparable actions.

Hanging Scissor Kick

The scissor kick is a dangling leg elevate variation. It includes dynamic motion, alternating your legs with every repetition. Though your higher physique isn’t actively concerned in performing a crunch, you may nonetheless profit from a cross-body motion — particularly should you “angle” your kick barely towards your reverse shoulder.

Don’t let your grip power restrict efficiency. If obligatory, use lifting straps to safe your self to the overhead bar. The train can be carried out along with your elbows supported at a “Captain’s chair” knee elevate station.

Cable Woodchop

The cable woodchop, particularly the high-to-low variation, strongly recruits your obliques with stabilization help out of your abdominals. Your decrease physique offers a secure base, whereas pivoting in your toes creates a robust switch of energy for larger athletic carryover.

The low-to-high woodchop variation could possibly be used for selection, however could excessively recruit your shoulder muscle tissue. The low-to-high motion additionally requires much less ab and indirect involvement in change for extra decrease and higher again activation.

Lifeless Bug

The useless bug could have probably the most visually descriptive train names of all time, however it’s additionally an underrated motion for core power. It seems much like be a “gradual movement bicycle crunch” as a result of cross-body motion and arm/leg coordination.

One key to getting probably the most from the useless bug is to maintain your decrease again flat on the bottom. In case your decrease again arches, you considerably cut back the core power advantages. To remain centered in your decrease again place, make sure to transfer slowly and intentionally, not like the customarily extra fast-paced bicycle crunch.


What number of ab workout routines ought to I do in every exercise?

This will depend on your total coaching program. In case you have one exercise per week devoted to training abs, you may be capable to slot in 4 of 5 workout routines — ideally focusing on a spread of various actions and muscle sections.
For those who’re including abs into a bigger session like a shoulder workout or arm day, one or two workout routines ought to be loads. As a result of the bicycle crunch works your total abs and obliques in one-go, it’s a superb selection for this method.


  1. Sarti, M. A., Monfort, M., Fuster, M. A., & Villaplana, L. A. (1996). Muscle exercise in higher and decrease rectus abdominus throughout stomach workout routines. Archives of bodily medication and rehabilitation, 77(12), 1293–1297. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0003-9993(96)90195-1
  2. Smrcina, Z., Woelfel, S., & Burcal, C. (2022). A Systematic Evaluate of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Workouts in Sufferers with Non-Particular Low Again Ache. Worldwide journal of sports activities bodily remedy, 17(5), 766–774. https://doi.org/10.26603/001c.37251
  3. Escamilla, R. F., Lewis, C., Bell, D., Bramblet, G., Daffron, J., Lambert, S., Pecson, A., Imamura, R., Paulos, L., & Andrews, J. R. (2010). Core muscle activation throughout Swiss ball and conventional stomach workout routines. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports activities bodily remedy, 40(5), 265–276. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2010.3073

Featured Picture: Floor Image / Shutterstock

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