A mat makes bicycle crunches more comfortable on hard flooring.
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If you're overweight, you'll need to reduce your overall weight through diet and exercise to achieve a trim waistline. Spot reduction just isn't possible. However, bicycle crunches are among the very best exercises for firming abdominal muscles, reports the American Council on Exercise. Out of 13 exercises, bicycle crunches came in No. 1 for strengthening the vertical abs and No. 2 for strengthening the obliques in a study by researchers at San Diego State University.
Getting the Benefits
In addition to firming abdominal muscles, bicycle crunches improve your posture and make your waist look better. Abdominal exercises are especially important for overweight individuals because because excess fat in this area stretches the muscles and makes them weaker. Similar to other abdominal exercises, bicycle crunches also stabilize the core and help prevent injuries, especially to the back.
Doing It Right
To perform bicycle crunches, take a starting position lying on the floor on your back with legs straight in front. Put your hands behind your head, and lift your legs with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your hands behind your head, touch your right elbow to the left knee, and straighten out your right leg. Then touch your left elbow to the right knee, straitening the left leg. Keep the motion going back and forth, similar to pedaling a bicycle. Peter Francis, Ph.D., of the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University, recommends five minutes of ab exercises every day.
Similar to most exercises, you'd need to continue bicycle crunches for 30 minutes to burn significant calories. Because this is too long for most people, add other other types of exercise to burn calories, lose weight and slim your waist. For healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends brisk walking for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, plus strength training at least twice a week, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your choices for strength training include free weights, resistance tubing, weight machines or calisthenics such as pushups, squats and pullups.
You'll trim your waist faster by adding a healthy weight-loss diet to your exercise program. The Mayo Clinic recommends losing no more than approximately 2 pounds weekly, or as recommended by your doctor. For example, limit high calorie foods, such as fatty meats, high-fat cheeses and butter. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Consume only moderate quantities of healthier fats, such as nuts, fish and natural oils. The quantity you eat counts, so keep portions small at all times. In a restaurant, for example, ask for a doggy bag for leftovers, or share a meal.
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