Muscle group:   The abdominal muscles

Trained muscle:   All parts of the abdominal muscles

Focused muscle:   Rectus abdominis (straight abdominal muscle)

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


The bicycle crunch is a very effective and intense version of the abdominal crunch. It activates the hip flexors a lot forcing the abdominal muscles to do much compensation work. But the bicycle crunch also implies the risk of developing a hollow back if not performed correctly.

Bicycle crunch

The bicycle crunch starts in supine position with both arms (above the head) and legs stretched from the body. We now lift and pull one leg bent towards the body. The opposite hand is brought upfront touching the foot of the leg we just brought up. Now we lift the other leg just a little bit keeping it stretched. From this position we begin with a controlled alternating movement of bending and stretching our legs along with the respective opposite arm. Make sure to always retract one leg towards the body entirely. This keeps the pelvis erected and your back from becoming hollow. Head and shoulders remain lifted from the ground throughout the entire exercise.

Bicycle crunch variations

The above mentioned version of the bicycle crunch represents the highest intensity level. The more we stretch our arms and legs in the respective end position (legs close to the floor) the more intense the exercise becomes. To make it easier it is possible to not stretch the legs and arms entirely during the exercise. You could also leave your hands on your head.

Please make sure to always keep a clean execution working out bicycle crunches. Otherwise you risk developing a hollow back that could cause back problems. Also avoid press breathing (exhalation against closed airways).


Further familiar exercises of the crunch are the reverse crunch, the sit-ups, and the variations of the ab crunch.

Antagonist: Lower back muscles

Stretching: Abdominal stretches

Bicycle crunch with one arm stretched

Bicycle crunch with one arm stretched

Bicycle crunch with bent arms

Bicycle crunch with bent arms

Bicycle crunch, both arms stretched

Bicycle crunch, both arms stretched

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