I could ramble on all day long about all the different ab exercises that have you contorting your body and balancing in weird ways to #feeltheburn. But when it comes down to it, some of the most effective moves are the most basic—the ones you’ve been doing since middle school gym class. And bicycle kicks are definitely here to stay.
If you haven’t done bicycle kicks in a while, don’t worry—getting back into it is as easy as, well, riding a bike. Even though the exercise is in the simple-yet-super-effective category like crunches and sit-ups, it goes a step beyond. While you can skip out on the rotation aspect, adding it in does wonders.
“Bicycle kicks are a great exercise to strengthen your core. They target multiple muscles in your midsection,” says EverybodyFights trainer Ricardo Rose. “When done properly, bicycles can strengthen your transverse abdominals, internal, and external obliques.”
Even though bicycle kicks seem simple and you’ve been doing them basically forever, are you 100 percent sure you’re performing them correctly? Sometimes bad habits you pick up when first learning an exercise sticks with you for years—like arching your lower back or going too fast!—and that’s why it’s so important to check in with your form every once in a while to ensure you’re performing every move properly. Rose’s instructions make sure you’re getting the most out of every kick.
Here’s how to do bicycle kicks correctly
1. Start lying flat on your back, legs fully extended, and both hands behind the head.
2. Begin by pressing your lower back into the ground. This will eliminate any arch in the low back and help engage your core before starting any movement.
3. From here, bring both hands behind the head and raise the shoulders off the floor.
4. Next bring your right knee toward your chest and simultaneously rotate your shoulders to bring the left elbow to toward the right knee.
5. Make sure to keep the leg that isn’t bending fully extended and low to the floor to get the best engagement.
6. After touching the right knee to the left elbow, rotate your shoulder and bring the left knee to the right elbow. Perform these movements slowly and controlled for the best core-burning results.
Note: If you’re experiencing discomfort in your back or if you’d like to modify, you can eliminate the upper body movement. You do this by placing your arms flat to your sides and focusing on the lower body movement by bending one knee toward your chest and keeping opposite leg extended and alternating legs.
Make bicycle kicks an even better core workout with a resistance band:
These ab exercises are way better than crunches. And this is the best (and worst) “As Seen On TV” exercise equipment, according to trainers.
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