Air cycling exercise as abdominal workout: How-to tips

Heather Campbell
 min read

Air cycling exercise as an abdominal workout, or the bicycle crunch, is one of the better-known exercises for the abdominal muscles.

Air cycling exercise as abdominal workout: How-to tipsThe bicycle crunch is an easy, albeit extremely effective exercise.

As a general rule, air cycling is considered a relatively intense abdominal exercise and is therefore mainly suitable for advanced users. Air cycling is an exercise where you engage the entire abdomen. All you need is a mat and a healthy dose of determination to do bicycle crunches.

Read on for a complete explanation of this particular exercise and additional tips to achieve the perfect execution and get the most out of it.

Air cycling as abdominal workout: Introduction

The name may already suggest some of the things about this exercise, and is due to the fact that you make a cycling movement in the air.

Suppose you have never done abdominal exercises before or are just starting out. In that case, it may be better to start with a lighter workout.

Tip: Check out our other article with the 15 best abdominal exercises for beginners: 15 Best ab exercises for overweight beginners + Tips to strengthen the core

However, it never hurts to try the bicycle crunch. In fact, if your core is strong enough, you can enjoy the benefits of air cycling.

Air cycling for a beautiful defined belly

Air cycling is an exercise where you engage the entire abdomen, including the serratus anterior.

These are those little wavy muscles across the outside of your rib cage just below your chest, which attach to your lats.

This makes it a very suitable exercise for training a fully developed and beautifully defined abdomen.

Lie on your back on a mat with your hands behind your head or ears. Lift your legs slightly off the mat, so there is tension on your lower abdominal muscles.

Now roll up at an angle and bring your left elbow to your right knee, which you bend toward you simultaneously.

Now switch by extending your right knee again while bending your left knee and moving your right elbow diagonally toward this.

Keep alternating to move your legs as if you were on a bicycle, constantly moving your elbows back and forth toward the opposite bent knee.

Remember to keep breathing properly during the exercise. Do sets of 10-30 repetitions.

Bicycle crunches: Implementation in steps

  1. Take a seat on the floor and lie on your back. Push your lower back firmly against the ground. Your feet are placed flat on the ground. Your hands can be kept behind your head or near your ears.
  2. Lift your knees off the ground and keep them at an angle of about 90 degrees.
  3. Now move your armpit toward the opposite knee. While doing so, turn in well with your upper body so that you can touch your knee with your elbow.
  4. Repeat this movement, now turning toward the other side.
  5. Continue until you reach the desired number of repetitions.

Tips for effective training

To ensure that you can get started with the bicycle crunches right away, you will find the most critical points of attention and tips below.

Go over these points carefully to make the exercise as effective as possible and avoid mistakes.

Focus entirely on execution

Although there is not an awful lot that can go wrong with executing the bicycle crunch, it is recommended to focus completely on the execution.

When you work out and get a little tired, you may lose sight of the correct technique.

This can result in back pain and your abdominal muscles not being trained as effectively.

Alternate with other abdominal exercises

To engage your abdominal muscles in the best possible way, I recommend that you implement other abdominal exercises into your workout in addition to the bicycle crunch.

This way, you’ll tackle the abs from different angles and get as much out of your workout as possible. After all, strong abs don’t magically appear by themselves!

Increase or decrease the pace

Talking about extra challenges and more effective training: another way to make the bicycle crunch harder is simply increasing or decreasing the tempo.

Your abdominal muscles will be engaged a lot better by performing the exercise extra fast or extra slow.

Do not apply force with your arms

If you decide to put your arms behind your head, you mustn’t use force. However, many people will tend to do this unconsciously anyway.

I am therefore also in favor of keeping the hands near the ears or on the side of your head.

You can also support the back of your head slightly, rather than pressing your hands against it. This is because it prevents you from unintentionally applying too much force.

Pay attention to your breathing

As with all abdominal exercises, it is also essential that you control your breathing with the bicycle crunch.

When your abdominal muscles need to deliver force, the idea is to exhale. So you do this when you come up with your elbow.

When you come back down, you can take another gulp of air, only to blow it out again when you apply power.

Keep your lower back pressed against the ground

To best relieve your lower back, the key is to keep your lower back pressed firmly against the floor.

In fact, if you don’t do this, chances are your lower back will be hollow. This puts a lot of stress on your lower back, leading to lower back pain.

If you have trouble keeping your lower back firmly against the ground, you can use an abdominal pillow that fills this hollow for support.

Hold the starting position for a few moments

Suppose you want to create more muscle contraction in the abdominal muscles. In that case, you can hold the starting position (when you are turned in upwards) for a few seconds.

This will make the bicycle crunch a bit heavier but also more effective.

So if you like to challenge yourself during your workout, you can apply this.

Frequently asked questions about bicycle crunches

What do you need for bicycle crunches?

Bicycle crunches can be performed without exercise equipment. But, of course, it is nice to use an exercise mat should you train on a harder surface.

Do you want to perform bicycle crunches with weight? In that case, you can use ankle weights.

These weights attach around your ankle(s), making aerial cycling more challenging.

Tip: While the bicycle crunch does not require any equipment, some low-cost equipment can be very helpful to train your abdominal muscles, as detailed in our other article Abdominal exercise machines for overweight people to burn belly fat

What muscles are being trained?

It should be evident by now that bicycle crunches are how you target the abdominal muscles.

In addition, as secondary muscle groups, the hamstrings and glutes are also trained, but this is minimal.

Air cycling, by the way, will exercise all the abdominal muscles, the angled, straight, and bottom ones.

What is the ideal speed for bicycle crunches?

There is no such thing as the ideal speed for air cycling. But, as you’ve read in this article, the exercise gets harder as you increase the speed or slow down.

A golden mean is therefore advisable for a beginner. You will have to find out for yourself at what speed you can train best.

Air cycling exercise as abdominal workout: Conclusion

The bicycle crunches are an effective exercise for the abdominal muscles.

Still, some things can go wrong. So, make sure to incorporate these bicycle crunch tips into your training.

Give it a chance, these air cycling exercises as abdominal workout can be lots of fun!

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More