How to Do a Bicycle Crunch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bicycle crunch to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Feb 23, 2024

How to Do a Bicycle Crunch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bicycle crunch to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Feb 23, 2024

How to Do a Bicycle Crunch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bicycle crunch to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Feb 23, 2024

How to Do a Bicycle Crunch: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a bicycle crunch to improve core strength and stability, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Feb 23, 2024
Table of Contents

If you’re looking to add a little more variety to your core workouts, you can’t go wrong with the bicycle crunch. It’s a mainstay of ab exercises for good reason: It packs a major punch for all your abdominal muscles, particularly the obliques which often aren’t as engaged when you do traditional crunches. 

Read on to learn more about the bicycle crunch and how to do it, plus ways to make it easier or harder. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Maureen Lu, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Lu is a Hinge Health physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist with over 17 years of clinical experience.

What Is a Bicycle Crunch?

The bicycle crunch is a great exercise to challenge your core, especially your obliques, in a rotational pattern. The bicycle crunch is performed similarly to a standard crunch, but involves moving your legs in a cycling-like motion while twisting your upper body to each side. This extra rotation is what allows you to activate and strengthen your oblique muscles more than you’re able to when you simply crunch forward. 

What Muscles Do Bicycle Crunches Work? 

Similar to a standard crunch, the bicycle crunch works your entire core with a special focus on these muscles:

  • Obliques, which run along the sides of the torso. These are the primary muscles engaged during a bicycle crunch. Bicycle crunches activate both the internal and external obliques, which help to stabilize the spine and pelvis. They also help you rotate your body in everyday activities.  

  • Rectus abdominis, commonly known as the "six-pack" muscle. This is the major abdominal muscle that’s responsible for flexing the lumbar spine (low back) and it helps to stabilize the core when doing a bicycle crunch. 

  • Transverse abdominis, which is located deep within the abdomen. It wraps around the spine to provide stability and acts a bit like a corset, tightening and stabilizing the core. The pedaling motion of the bicycle crunch allows you to tap into this set of deep core muscles.

Benefits of Bicycle Crunches

The bicycle crunch is a great, no-weights-needed exercise that challenges your core, especially your obliques, and builds strength for activities like carrying heavy objects, doing yard work, or lifting kids off the ground. You can also infuse a little cardio into this exercise by picking up the tempo, which can help build endurance. And, like all core exercises, the bicycle crunch can help alleviate back pain by helping to stabilize the core. 

Bicycle Crunches: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches

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To do bicycle crunches:

  • Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat. 

  • Lift your head and shoulders off the mat, place your hands on the back of your head, and lift your legs to a tabletop position. 

  • Now twist from the waist to bring one armpit and your opposite knee toward each other, extending the other leg long. 

  • Return to center, then switch sides.

  • Try to keep your elbows wide, and lift from your abdominals rather than pulling from your head.

As you do each rep, you might feel your core, back, and hip muscles working.

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs. 

Bicycle Crunches Modifications

Bicycle Crunches Modifications

Bicycle Crunches Modifications

Bicycle Crunches Modifications

To make bicycle crunches easier:  

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Then lift your head and shoulders, and twist from side to side.

To make bicycle crunches harder: 

  • Try a cross-body mountain climber by beginning in a high plank. Bend one knee to bring it toward your opposite elbow, and then return to plank. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Smrcina, Z., Woelfel, S., & Burcal, C. (2022). A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Exercises in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 17(5). doi:10.26603/001c.37251

  2. Grundy, K. (2023, March 27). How to Do a Bicycle Crunch for a Strong, Stable Core. ACE Fitness. https://www.acefitness.org/about-ace/press-room/in-the-news/8311/how-to-do-a-bicycle-crunch-for-a-strong-stable-core-livestrong/ 

  3. 10 Benefits of Bicycle Crunches with a Twist. (n.d.). ASFA. Retrieved from https://www.americansportandfitness.com/blogs/fitness-blog/10-benefits-of-bicycle-crunches-with-a-twist

Table of Contents
What Is a Bicycle Crunch?What Muscles Do Bicycle Crunches Work? Benefits of Bicycle CrunchesBicycle Crunches: Exercises and Modifications To do bicycle crunches:To make bicycle crunches easier:  To make bicycle crunches harder: How Hinge Health Can Help You References