Bicycle crunch

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Rectus Abdominis
  • Synergists: Obliques, Iliopsoas, Tensor Fasciae Latae, Pectineus, Sartorius, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Lie supine (on your back) with your legs straight.
  2. Place your hands behind your head.
  3. Raise your feet and upper back a little off the floor.
  4. Press your lower back to the ground.


  1. Slowly start raising your knees, one at a time, toward your chest in a cycling motion.
  2. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, and your right elbow to your left knee.
  3. Keep repeating.
  4. Breathe naturally.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your neck neutral and your lower back pressed against the floor.
  • Straighten each knee before raising it again. Your feet should not circle; instead, they should kick forward and backward.
  • In a classic 2001 study conducted by the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University, the effectiveness of the bicycle crunch and 12 other common ab exercises were compared, and the bicycle crunch was found to be the most effective. Compared with the standard crunch, the bicycle crunch was found to produce 148% more mean activity in the abs and 190% more mean activity in the obliques. The captain’s chair leg and hip raise was also found to be very effective, producing 112% more mean activity in the abs and 210% more mean activity in the obliques than the standard crunch. That’s why the bicycle crunch and hanging leg and hip raise (which is essentially the same as the captain’s chair leg and hip raise but doesn’t require a captain’s chair) are included in most, if not all, of my training programs.

Bicycle crunch video


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