Mistakes You're Making With Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches seem pretty straight forward. You lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Then you raise your feet and pull one knee in while twist your body so your opposite elbow tries to touch your knee. But there are a few key mistakes that can undo all the work bicycle crunches put your body through, meaning you won't get the results you want.

And bicycle crunches are good for getting results. In 2020 Women's Health sat down with Katie Anderson, head of training at FLY LDN in London, and asked her about the benefits of bicycle crunches. Anderson explained that bicycle crunches — which she also calls ab bikes — work the muscles that form your six pack, known as the rectus abdominis. They also work your obliques, or the outside curves of your waist, and your hips. When you add in the leg pedaling motion, you're working the transverse abdominis which is the deeper portion of your core. Anderson said it can be hard to reach, making the bicycle crunch even more impressive.

Of course, all that work hinges on performing the exercise correctly. And there are some key ways that it can easily go wrong. If the mistakes are repeated often enough they can even lead to injury, setting your fitness goals back even further.

The biggest mistakes and how to fix them

One of the biggest bicycle crunch mistakes you want to avoid is arching your lower back. HuffPost worked with John Romaniello, founder of Roman Fitness Systems, on a fitness series in 2012. In their article on bicycle crunches, Romaniello highlighted that this was easy to do, especially when fatigued. He said that people struggled to synchronize their movements, leading to sloppy form and rounded backs. His solution is to start people out on a bench with their hands holding onto the sides for support. Once they get the form right, they can move to the floor and incorporate more of a twist without worrying about losing focus and rounding their spine.

It's a concern shared by Katie Anderson. In her Women's Health interview she gave arched backs as one of two major bicycle crunch mistakes. The second worst is straining your neck. She advises keeping a tennis ball-sized gap between your chin and your chest while supporting your head with your hands.

Just be sure not to pull on your neck warns Anthony Crouchelli, a well-known celebrity trainer. He spoke with LiveStrong in March and highlighted the dangers of pulling on your neck while performing a bicycle crunch. He recommends keeping your chest open and shoulders rolled down to help avoid the issue. This, along with Anderson's tennis ball trick, should correct the issue.

Bicycle crunches can do wonders for your oblique and core. Just make sure to slow down and take your time. The key to a good bicycle crunch is proper form — and that is something that just can't be rushed.