How to Do a Bike Crunch to Work Your Abs

The bike crunch is the perfect move to spice up your core workout. It gives you all the same benefits as the standard crunch, plus it works your internal and external obliques, therefore requiring more movement and constant core engagement.

However, bicycle crunches can be hard on your back and hips if not done correctly. Because they’re so often thrown into exercise routines, it’s not uncommon for trainers to skip instructions. That’s why it’s important to learn how to perform a bike crunch correctly and safely.

What do bike crunches do for the body?

Bike crunches can help tone your midsection and slim your waistline. Because bike crunches require more leg movement than standard crunches, they’re also great for improving stability, flexibility, and coordination.

From picking up heavy grocery bags to climbing stairs, a strong core is necessary for many daily activities and can even help prevent common injuries or strains. Twisting and reaching are also necessary for everyday activities such as removing items from shelves, storing items in cabinets, and playing with children.

Common Mistakes People Make When Doing Bike Crunches

When performing bike crunches, many of my clients tend to rush through their reps without properly engaging their abs. Bike crunches aren’t really about speed. Instead, they require total commitment and deliberate movement, which means slowing down actually helps.

It’s also common to allow your hip flexors to take over and end up relying on momentum instead of core engagement, which is definitely not what we want when trying to target our abs. In addition, it is important to listen to your body. If you feel you are straining your neck or back, try readjusting your position. Here are some solutions to common errors I see:

  • If you find yourself picking up the pace and relying on momentum to get you through the exercise, take a short break and reset. Remember to actively engage your abdominal muscles with each crunch.
  • Listen to your body while performing bike crunches. This means repositioning your body if your neck or back starts to hurt, or lowering your head closer to the ground instead of curling up so high.
  • Make sure you don’t let any other muscle group take over. Tighten your core with each crunch and avoid letting your hip flexors take over. This is a core and abdominal exercise; not a leg exercise.

How to do a modified bike crunch

Building the core strength and coordination needed to perform a good bike crunch takes time. That’s why there are plenty of modifications available for those who aren’t comfortable jumping straight into the move.

For a modified bike crunch, perform the movement standing up. The standing position eliminates any neck or back pain you may feel while performing the floor movement, allowing you to focus on form. With your feet shoulder-width apart and your elbows bent with your hands behind your head, begin to lift your right knee as you turn your left elbow across the body toward the knee. Alternate between the legs.

How to do a bike crunch correctly

If you feel confident in the edited version, move on to the full move. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure proper form and maximum core engagement.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor as wide as your hips.
  2. With your hands behind your head and your elbows bent at the sides, use your abs to lift your left shoulder blade off the floor.
  3. At the same time, bring your right knee to meet your left elbow.
  4. When your right knee is bent, straighten your left leg and extend it in front of you at a 45 degree angle.
  5. Perform on the opposite side, bringing your left knee to your right elbow, straightening the right leg.
  6. Continue to alternate legs and contract your core. Brush your inner thighs as you switch sides to make sure you hug your legs toward the midline of your body.

4 exercises that will help you perform the bike crunch

If you need a little extra practice before you can perform the bike crunch properly, these four moves can help build your core strength.

dog bird

This move works the same muscles as the bike crunch, but does it in a different position that reduces the risk of straining your neck and straining your hips. Get on all fours with your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your left arm straight out in front of you and your right leg behind you. After that, bend your left elbow and right knee, contracting your abs, until they touch under your stomach. Repeat using your right arm and left leg. Alternate between sides, performing 10 times on each side.

Seated bike crunch

This is a great move to strengthen the core without worrying about complicated movements. Simply sit on the floor with your legs bent and your feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and cross your right elbow towards your left knee. Switch sides and tighten your core with each movement. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Sitting on the wall

The seated wall trains your abs to engage while the legs do something in this case, standing up! Just find a wall and lean against it. Squat down so that you create a 90 degree angle. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then stand up. Repeat 10 times.

Modified situation

Sit-ups are a go-to core exercise and help strengthen your entire midsection. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing to your sides. Squeeze your core to lift your upper body off the ground. Repeat 10 times and gradually increase the number of repetitions as you gain confidence in your core strength.

More ways to master movement:

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