The bicycle crunch is arguably the best all round abs exercise, because it works all the layers of the ab muscles when it’s done properly. If you don’t have much time for ab workouts, then this multi-tasking exercise is a good choice. The bicycle crunch challenge includes 3 variations to get the most out of the exercise and add variety. At the end of the challenge you’ll be doing 24 of each variation – 72 reps in all.
How the bicycle crunch works the different layers
The top layer – the 6 pack muscles: the action of lifting the upper body towards the legs works these muscles.
The middle layer – the obliques: the obliques carry out twisting and side bending movements, so the action of rotating the elbow towards the knee works this layer.
The deep layer – the transverse abdominal muscle: the deepest layer of the abs works to stabilise the pelvis. For the exercise to effectively work this muscle, you need to make sure it’s working to stabilise your pelvis and stop your lower back from arching.
General workout info.
Please read these exercise guidelines before you start.
You’ll need an exercise mat or some other form of cushioning if you’re working on a hard floor.
How to do the bicycle crunch and variations
Standard bicycle crunch
- The start position is with your feet in the air and your hands behind your head.
- Extend your right leg to a 45° angle with the floor.
- At the same time, bring your left knee towards your upper body and lift your right shoulder off the floor to reach your elbow towards your knee.
- Now extend your left leg and bring your left elbow towards your right knee.
- Keep alternating for the given number of reps.
- For the double pulse, reach your elbow towards your knee as before. At the end of the movement, move your elbow away from your knee slightly and then back again.
- Repeat on the other side.
- At the end of the movement, hold for a count of 5
- Repeat on the other side.
Bicycle crunch challenge – reps for each day
Get a printable copy of the workout
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Related to bicycle crunch workout challenge
The first day of the challenge should feel like it needs a bit of effort, but not too much. If you really struggle with day 1, then you probably won’t get through the challenge. The idea with the challenges on this site is that the first few days get you used to the exercises and the daily habit. Usually about halfway through the challenge the effort levels start to increase more quickly.
Avoid challenges that increase effort levels very quickly – they’re simply not realistic. It’s unlikely that, for example, you would be able to increase how many squats you are able to do by 10 a day for 30 days, or increase your plank hold time by 10 seconds a day for 30 days.
In general, allowing muscles 48 hours between workouts is good because it gives our bodies time to recover and adapt. Challenges are generally short workouts and for a limited period of time (usually 30 days), so not having many rest days won’t be a problem. With challenges that alternate exercises each day, it’s not an issue, because you’re using different muscles.
Fitness improvements don’t always happen in a predictable way. Sometimes we’re just not as strong or energetic for no apparent reason, or we hit a plateau. If you get to a point where you’re struggling to complete the day’s challenge, you can try one of the following:
- Take a couple of days off and start again where you left off
- Do the challenge on alternate days rather than every day
- Instead of increasing the effort every day, stay at the same level for 2 or 3 days and then go onto the next day of the challenge
Obviously these solutions mean the challenge will last longer, but you’ll still benefit from doing it.