Bicycle Crunches

Isolation exercise, Body weight




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Abdomen: Straight abdominal muscle
    (Musculus rectus abdominis)
  • Abdomen: External oblique abdominal muscle
    (Musculus obliquus externus abdominis)

Workout plan

Here you can find example plans for bicycle crunches training:

Bicycle Crunches: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Bicycle Crunches

Involved main muscle groups:
Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches, or cycling, are a popular and well-known exercise for working out your abs. They not only strengthen your core but also serve as a great cardio workout. As the name suggests, this exercise mimics cycling. You lie on the floor and pedal your legs as if you were riding a bike. At the same time, you move your shoulders and elbows forward in an alternating motion, crunching your upper abdomen.

This combination of movements activates your abdominal muscles. Lifting your legs in a pedaling motion alternately works your lower abs while also requiring constant stabilization. This challenges the middle part of your abs as well. Moving your shoulders and elbows activates your upper and lateral abs.

Think of this exercise as a combination of scissor kicks and crunches, even though the movements are partly different. If cycling doesn’t work for you, consider trying these two alternatives.

Additionally, if you’re already experienced with bicycle crunches, performing them faster can help improve both strength and endurance in your cardio training. Just be careful: to keep the exercise effective for strength training, make sure your form is still correct and not too rushed.

Correct execution

You don’t need any special equipment to do this exercise properly. However, since your lower back remains in constant contact with the ground and may slightly move and grind, use an exercise mat or another soft surface to prevent injury to your lower back.

Video tutorial

How to Perform Bicycles | Core Bodyweight Exercise Tutorial

Step-by-step instructions

Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms extended beside your body.

Lift your legs, keeping your pelvis on the floor.

Start by imitating a pedaling motion with your legs, like cycling. Bend one leg, bringing the knee toward your body, while extending the other leg as it nears the floor. At the end of this movement, one knee should be as close to your torso as possible, while the other leg is fully extended. Now, reverse the motion, bending the other leg and bringing the knee up as you extend the second leg.

Once you’ve mastered this movement, place your hands on the sides of the back of your head.

As you pedal, bring one elbow forward, bending your upper abdomen slightly to the side. For example, when your right leg is bent, your left elbow should point forward.

Common mistakes

As mentioned earlier, you can perform this exercise faster for a cardio workout. However, doing so unintentionally may reduce the strength training effect due to the swinging motion, at least in the short term. If your goal is to strengthen your abs, perform the exercise more slowly to avoid running out of breath before the end of your planned set.