When it comes to developing your core, not all abdominal exercises are created equal. One exercise considered to be the best abdominal exercise for developing your core is the bicycle crunch, because unlike the traditional crunch, the rotational motion involved in a bicycle crunch also targets the lower abs and oblique muscles.
Indeed, according to a study published in the American Council on Exercise, traditional crunches are one of the least effective abdominal exercises you can do. When you crunch, you’re only targeting a very small part of the abdominal wall, and you’re putting a lot of pressure on your neck and spine doing it. Take a look at four more exercises you shouldn’t doand what to do instead.
The key thing to remember with bike crunches is to keep your lower back pressed against the ground and avoid arching your back during the movement. Remember to keep your core engaged, remember to draw your navel into your spine, and perform the entire exercise slowly, with control.
Looking for more workout inspiration? Take a look at the best ab workouts which are completely free and can be done from anywhere. We also found this exercise which is better than squats to strengthen your glutes, and this exercise that’s better than sit-ups for targeting your internal muscles.
How to do a bike crunch
To do a bike crunch, start on your back with your feet pressed into the ground, hip-width apart. Consider sucking in your navel, place your hands slightly behind your head with your elbows out, and lift your head and neck off the mat.
Raise your legs to tabletop position and engage your abdominal muscles, slowly straighten your left leg, outward and away from your body with your toe pointed. As you do this, bend your right knee towards your chest and turn your left elbow to touch your right knee (it doesn’t matter too much if it doesn’t actually touch).
Then switch sides, twist and touch your left knee to your chest, touching your right elbow with your knee. Continue to alternate sides slowly and in control.
If you find your neck is tight during the bike crunch, be sure not to pull your head up during the exercise – the rotation should come from your torso, not your elbows.
To make the bike crunch harder, stop the motion at the top of the crunch – when your elbow and knee touch. Hold the movement for a few seconds before alternating sides.
Another modification for those who find it difficult to get on an exercise mat (if you’re looking to invest in a mat, we’ve found the best yoga mats that double as an exercise mat here), is the crunch. stand up from the bike.
To do this, stand with your feet hip-width apart, engage your core and bring one knee in towards your chest, at the same time, touch the opposite elbow to the knee, twisting your torso.
What muscles are used during a bike crunch?
Bike crunches work all the major abdominal muscles – the rectus abdominis, which are the abdominal muscles that run down the front of the stomach. The twisting motion activates the oblique muscles, which run along the side of the stomach. Raising and moving the legs also engages the transverse abs, which are the deepest abdominal muscles.
As the name of the exercise suggests, when you cycle with your legs, you also work your thighs, hamstrings, and quads.
What are the benefits of bike crunches?
One of the benefits of bike crunches is that they are a low-impact abdominal exercise, so they should work for most people. That said, if you’re pregnant, this is probably an exercise to avoid, or modify to avoid rotations. Consult your doctor if you have any questions about exercising during pregnancy.
Besides being an aesthetic goal, a strong core will help you run faster, lift heavier, and improve your flexibility. It’s also important when it comes to maintaining good posture, stabilizing your lower back, and improving your balance.
If you’re looking to target more muscles at once, we tried this full 20-minute workout and it really does work.