Of course, if you’re struggling with finding the time to exercise or eating healthier, then you need to start building habits. For an advanced approach try this free 1-day meal plan, prepare your food in advance, and adopt the perfect plate method!
That can sound like quite a bit to take in, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll find that you can easily adjust your lifestyle and improve your fitness!
To help you on your journey, join the FF30X program and gain the support of thousands of other men with the same goals as you!
What Is The Bicycle Crunch?
The bicycle crunch is simply a variant of the standard crunch. It is designed to give you a change of pace and is a great addition to your HIIT training.
It’s important to note that this exercise is generally referred to as one of the best for working your abs. However, this doesn't mean it will give you spot fat reduction. That’s a myth. Your body will burn fat from every part of it, gradually reducing the proportion of fat on your body.
How To Do The Bicycle Crunch Properly
Here’s a step by step guide to help you complete the bicycle crunch properly. The form is important if you want the best possible results; this is true of any exercise. If you’re feeling the burn, then you’re getting it right!
Step 1 – Get Your Position Right
You’ll need to lie down with your back on the floor. Your legs need to be straight and your feet roughly shoulder width apart.
Once you’re comfortable, move your hands up and behind your head. Interlocking your fingers will help them to stay firm when you do the exercise.
If you’re finding the exercise to be too difficult, feel free to leave your arms at your sides. This will help your balance but slightly reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
Step 2 – Start The Bicycle Crunch
Bring one leg up, bending it at the knee. This is a similar motion to pedaling a bike, hence the name.
At the same time bring the opposite elbow towards your knee. The right leg bends, with the knee moving towards your chest, while the left elbow moves towards the knee.
It is important to keep your leg in a straight line. Your shoulders and arms twist to meet the leg, not the other way round. Your trunk should stay on the ground at all times.
Step 3 – Switch
Once the right knee and left elbow have touched, or as close to touching as possible, switch and bring your left knee up and right elbow towards it.
The action of bringing your leg up and elbow down will work your abs. Concentrate on tensing them as you do the exercise.
You can make the crunch harder by keeping your shins parallel to the floor at all times.
Step 4 – Repeat
Your legs, feet, shoulders, and head should not touch the floor once you start the bicycle crunch. The aim is to do as many as you can, observing correct form, in 30 seconds.
Then, pause for 30 seconds before repeating; try to do 5 complete sets of 30 seconds.
If you prefer to adopt a more traditional approach than HIIT, then try doing 3 sets of 15-20 reps; don’t forget to rest between the sets.
Top Tip: Avoid neck injury by keeping it still while completing the bicycle crunch. The movement should all be controlled from your abs.
Benefits Of This Exercise
The most obvious benefit is the strengthening of your abs and core, that’s the main muscles the bicycle crunch targets. But, you’ll also feel the benefit in your thighs and even a little in your calf muscles.
But, that’s not the only benefit of doing the bicycle crunch:
- Fat Loss
Any exercise that elevates your heart rate and gets your muscles pumping is going to burn calories. These have to be supplied by your body, providing you’re consuming fewer calories than your maintenance amount; you’ll be getting the extra calories needed for your exercise from the fat in your body.
- Muscle Building
It shouldn't be surprising that working your abs and thighs will have an effect on them. When you ‘feel the burn’ you are actually causing micro-tears in your muscles. As these heal, your muscles will grow larger and stronger.
- Improved Circulation
The bicycle crunch, as well as most types of exercise, will increase the amount of blood flowing to your muscles and around your body in general. This will help to improve the oxygen and nutrient availability to your muscles and organs; effectively improving the health of your body.
Doing bicycle crunches regularly will encourage the growth and definition of your abdominal muscles. In short, this can help you to get the 6-pack you desire.
Of course, developing the muscles is only part of the process. You will need to burn off the fat covering your abs before you can see your 6-pack.
Alternative Options To Add To Your Daily Workout
If you’re interested in the bicycle crunch, then you’re probably ready to increase the size of your abs. In conjunction with a good meal plan, the FF30X, and a good workout you’ll actually be able to show off your 6-pack!
The bicycle crunch is great, but, to keep your interest, it’s important that you interchange this exercise with others that will work the same muscles. Here are some other ones for you to try:
The basic plank doesn't just work your abs. It will improve the strength of your core, your spine, your pelvis, and even your shoulders.
The lower plank means resting your forearms and toes on the floor with a straight line across the back of your body and along your legs.
Hold yourself here for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before repeating.
The high plank is similar but has your hands and toes on the ground, your arms should be straight, and the straight line across your back and legs will be steeper.
There are actually many different varieties of plank that you can try. It is considered one of the best exercises for your abs, core and overall body.
You've probably already tried this exercise; you may even have done it hundreds of times in the hope of uncovering a 6-pack. It will help you achieve this goal but only in conjunction with some healthy food choices.
The principle is similar to the bicycle crunch, but you don’t move your legs. Simply keep your feet flat on the floor and bring your elbows up to your bent knees.
Lying Leg Raise
This exercise targets your lower abs and is as simple as lying on a bed, bench, or even the floor. Once comfortable with your hips just off the bench and the tips of your toes are on the floor, lift your legs up and towards you.
The aim is to keep them straight and roll from your pelvis. This will ensure the lower abs are fully engaged. Aim for 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
This may sound like an easy exercise but try it. It’s not as easy as you think!
Swiss Ball Crunch
Another variation of the crunch will help your abs and retain your interest and motivation. You’ll feel your core burning while doing this but you’ll also feel the benefit in your back, and that will help to improve your posture.
You’ll need a Swiss ball!
Put your lower back on the ball and make sure your butt is just off the ball. Stretch your arms in front of you and tuck your chin in as you curl your abs. Keep the arms outstretched to really feel the burn.
You’ll need an ab-wheel to help you get this exercise right. It works all your ab muscles and is actually quite fun!
To start you kneel down, and you may prefer to use pads or a towel to soften the floor. Then place your hands on your ab-wheel, directly below your shoulders.
You can then breathe out as you push the ab-wheel forwards; you’ll need to keep it slow. The aim is to get your arms straight out in front of you, but this may not be possible on your first attempt.
Focus on keeping your abs tucked in and don’t let your back sag as you hold the position for a count of 3-5 seconds. Then breathe in, and slowly roll the ab-wheel back to the starting position.
Again, try 2 sets of 10-15 reps to start with. This video will help you to get your form right.
Just as there are many variations of the plank, so are there an array of crunches you can do.
Each one will work your core, and the oblique crunch will also strengthen your back and help you to achieve a slimmer, more defined waist.
Instead of lying flat on the floor with legs bent and knees flat on the floor, adopt this position on your side. You’ll probably find it easiest to get into the standard crunch starting position and then roll onto your side.
If you roll your trunk slightly back, you’ll create a straight line from your chin to your calf. You may find it beneficial to place your lower hand on your abs; you’ll feel them moving.
The actual movement involves keeping the chin line while lowering your head to the floor and focusing on contracting your abs. The movement doesn't have to be large to feel the burn.
The aim is to do 3 sets of 15-20 reps, on each side. Check out this video to ensure you get the exercise right.
You can also try dumbbell squats. These will work your core and your leg muscles and are surprisingly effective. Just remember to gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells to improve your results.
Another option is the hanging leg raise. Hanging from a bar and lifting your legs straight out in front of you will make your abs ache. They won’t do any harm for the definition and strength of your shoulder muscles either!
Try It Out Today!
This short guide and video will have you perfecting the bicycle crunch in no time. Although it needs to be part of other exercises, what is really great about this exercise is that it can be done anywhere, and at any time.
If you want to get up early and exercise without waking the family, this is a good addition to your schedule. Equally, if you just have 5-10 minutes spare during the day, you can do it for an added bonus.
Try the bicycle crunch today, get your form right, and then commit to doing it 3 times a week. You’ll feel the benefits and be ready to join FF30X program where you’ll get inspiration and support to achieve your goals.
Your new friend & health coach,
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info how to do bicycle crunches.