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What are Bicycle Crunches?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2018
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Bicycle crunches are an abdominal exercise that can help build muscle in the waist and the six-pack area. These muscles are more commonly called the obliques and the rectus abdominis. Like all muscle building exercises, these may provide a toned look or more musculature, but they do not necessarily rid the belly of belly fat. For fat reducing exercises, cardiovascular work is important, and it’s impossible to determine exactly where fat loss will occur. Overall fat loss can provide a leaner look, and toned muscles in the stomach area may help improve appearance.

Before beginning bicycle crunches, people should make certain they are in good shape. Since this exercise involves some tension on the neck, with the fingers interleaved behind it, anyone with neck injuries or problems should consult a doctor first before doing it. There may be modified bicycle crunch exercises that could be tried instead.

Most people recommend doing bicycle crunches on an exercise mat that has some cushioning to it. This helps cushion the small of the back. Those with strong backs might be able to use a comforter, or a yoga or pilates mat if this is not uncomfortable. The basic beginning position for these crunches is to lie down with the knees bent and the feet on the floor. The hands are laced underneath the neck.

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The first position is taken when one leg extends outward and one knee moves into the chest. The goal is then to bring the opposite elbow toward the knee as the body moves upward and sideways. The upper body comes down toward the mat as the legs change position. Bicycle crunch is a good name for this exercise, since the legs make a bicycling motion. The knee that is in stretches outward, and the outward leg is brought forward in a bent knee position. Opposite elbow touches knee.

People can choose to return the upper body fully to the floor in between each bicycle change, or they can remain in a crunched position, alternating elbow/knee touches as the legs make the bicycling motion. The exercise becomes harder the more parallel the outstretched leg is to the floor, since this takes more abdominal strength. When getting used to bicycle crunches, it may be more comfortable to point the outstretched leg toward the ceiling, gradually building up to a leg parallel position to the floor.

No exercises can guarantee a perfectly flat stomach or six-pack abs, but bicycle crunches do seem to be one of the more effective exercises to try since it addresses two muscle groups at once. Combined with other exercises and especially cardiovascular workouts, crunches may improve stomach appearance. As with all exercises, it’s very important to get doctor’s advice before beginning something new, particularly if a person has health problems or hasn’t exercised for a very long time. Other advice is to watch video demonstrations online so that alignment can be perfected, prior to trying a lot of these.

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