Tips on how to Do the Bicycle Crunch for Sharp Abs and Obliques

Ab workouts are one of many few sorts 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 normal 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 individuals make constant ab coaching a precedence. Some even take it a step additional and use progressively more difficult workout routines, which is the place the bicycle crunch typically 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 muscular tissues in unison. This makes it an efficient muscle-builder whereas additionally creating athletic core energy that may carry over to efficiency on the sector, within the ring, or on the lifting platform. Right here’s easy methods to get probably the most out of this entire core-builder.

Bicycle Crunch

Tips on how to Do the Bicycle Crunch Step By Step

The bicycle crunch could appear like 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 approach.

Step 1 — Lie on the Floor

Person on gym floor doing ab crunch
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Lie face up on the bottom together with your legs bent at roughly 90-degrees. Your toes ought to be within the air together 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 together 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 might put you in place to unconsciously crank your neck to finish repetitions. Your fingers ought to calmly contact the edges 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 title from the decrease physique motion that seems just like using a motorcycle. Contract your core muscular tissues to lift each shoulders barely off the bottom. As your torso comes up, deliver your left leg up and in towards your higher physique.

On the similar time, “crunch” your higher physique ahead and lean your proper facet towards the approaching leg. The vary of movement might be comparatively quick, so deal with bringing the other sides collectively.

Don’t overfocus on reaching your elbow to your knee. That may result in flapping your arms with lowered 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 decreasing 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, you might finally discover a pure rhythm not not like the rhythm wanted to pedal a motorcycle easily.

Type Tip: Carry out every repetition slowly at first. Concentrate on the cross-body activation and core recruitment. As you grow to be extra snug with the motion, regularly improve the velocity 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 unsuitable. Listed here are some huge points to be careful for.

Elbows Flapping

Some individuals 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 completed by your abs, however it could doubtlessly pressure your shoulders or neck. Maintain the motion strict, preserve deal with 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 midst of your physique.

Keep away from it: Maintain your fingers very calmly towards your head, which can make any shoulder or elbow motion extra noticeable. As you crunch, maintain your elbows “again” almost consistent with your ears. Don’t permit them to level ahead.

Shoulders Keep within the Air

One dangerous behavior some individuals 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 on your indirect muscular tissues, you’re short-changing your abdominals since you’re holding a static contraction as an alternative of working via a spread of movement.

Keep away from it: Deal with every section 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 via the set by finishing reps as shortly as potential.

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 modifications 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 supply the identical decrease ab and hip flexor recruitment of the bicycle crunch. (1) When you 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 shifting, 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.

Tips on how to Progress the Bicycle Crunch

Although it’s a bodyweight exercise, the bicycle crunch may be thought of 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 basic ab train of all time, the essential ground crunch is a vital motion to be aware of. The crunch gives decrease physique stability, together with your toes firmly on the bottom. The motion additionally enables you to zone-in on creating a robust belly contraction over a brief vary of movement.

Make certain to not flip the crunch right into a full sit-up by elevating your torso too excessive. The sit-up will also be an efficient train however it gained’t carry over as immediately 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. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to flip that scenario round by intentionally performing the twisting crunch as a option to construct up core energy for the extra superior bicycle crunch.

By studying easy methods to crunch “up and over,” you’re recruiting your obliques and abdominals right into a single motion. Once you grow 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 basic targets.

Core Energy

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

The bicycle crunch may be an environment friendly addition to a complete core-strengthening routine. The train works higher and decrease physique coordination and energy switch, whereas additionally activating the obliques, which might play a serious function in lots of athletic actions from operating 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 via repetitive leg motion.

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

Muscular tissues 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 edges 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 educated with a wide range of actions for full improvement. (3)

Muscular person standing outdoors flexing ab muscles
Credit score: Dragon Pictures / Shutterstock

Primarily, actions centered on curling the trunk with a steady decrease physique will emphasize the “higher” portion of the abs whereas actions that emphasize curling the hips with a steady higher physique, comparable to a reverse crunch, are more practical at recruiting the “decrease” part of the muscle.


The obliques are a pair of muscular tissues 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 muscular tissues are additionally activated facet facet flexion — bringing your shoulder nearer to your hip in a sideways movement.

Throughout the bicycle crunch, your obliques are strongly recruited as your torso twists within the path of your approaching leg. So-called “love handles” are usually physique fats that your genetics have determined to retailer close to your indirect muscular tissues. Opposite to standard delusion, coaching your indirect muscular tissues won’t create love handles.

Tips on how to Program the Bicycle Crunch

As an environment friendly ab train, the bicycle crunch can discover a house in any well-planned ab exercise. Listed here are just a few tips to get much more profit.

Unweighted, Average 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 muscular tissues earlier than concentrating on your ab muscular tissues.

To get probably the most out of the train, use solely your physique weight as resistance and deal with reaching a robust muscular contraction with every repetition. Attempt finishing two to 4 units of 10 to twenty repetitions. Depend as soon as to every facet as a facet rep — left leg to proper shoulder adopted by proper leg to left shoulder can 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 ground, 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 enhance it, listed below are a few of the most related actions.

Hanging Scissor Kick

The scissor kick is a dangling leg increase variation. It includes dynamic motion, alternating your legs with every repetition. Although your higher physique isn’t actively concerned in performing a crunch, you’ll be able to nonetheless profit from a cross-body motion — particularly for those who “angle” your kick barely towards your reverse shoulder.

Don’t let your grip energy restrict efficiency. If vital, use lifting straps to safe your self to the overhead bar. The train will also be completed together with your elbows supported at a “Captain’s chair” knee increase 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 gives a steady base, whereas pivoting in your toes creates a robust switch of energy for higher athletic carryover.

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

Lifeless Bug

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

One key to getting probably the most from the lifeless bug is to maintain your decrease again flat on the bottom. In case your decrease again arches, you considerably scale back the core energy advantages. To remain centered in your decrease again place, you should definitely transfer slowly and intentionally, not like the usually extra fast-paced bicycle crunch.


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

This is dependent upon your total coaching program. When you have one exercise per week devoted to training abs, you would possibly be capable of slot in 4 of 5 workout routines — ideally concentrating on a spread of various actions and muscle sections.
When you’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 alternative for this strategy.


  1. Sarti, M. A., Monfort, M., Fuster, M. A., & Villaplana, L. A. (1996). Muscle exercise in higher and decrease rectus abdominus throughout belly workout routines. Archives of bodily medication and rehabilitation, 77(12), 1293–1297.
  2. Smrcina, Z., Woelfel, S., & Burcal, C. (2022). A Systematic Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Workout routines in Sufferers with Non-Particular Low Again Ache. Worldwide journal of sports activities bodily remedy, 17(5), 766–774.
  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 belly workout routines. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports activities bodily remedy, 40(5), 265–276.

Featured Picture: Floor Image / Shutterstock

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