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With the advent of stability balls, TRXs and Bosus, chances are you’ve sidelined the bicycle crunch in your ab-training arsenal. But new research from the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University studied the activation and engagement of the abdominals using an electromyography. Results: The bicycle crunch was found to be the best overall move out of 13 exercises, targeting the rectus abdominis and obliques strongly. Add this old-turned-new staple back into your program today and use these form tips to make the most of every rep.
>> Lie with your back arching naturally and draw your navel in toward your spine to engage your abs and provide support for your back.
>> Place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart to create a base of stability.
>> Place your hands lightly behind your ears or the back of your head with your elbows flared for support. At no time should your hands pull on your head and neck.
>> Lift your chin. You should be able to slide an orange in the space between your chin and your chest when aligned properly.
>> Lift your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor by pulling your rib cage down toward your hipbones, then twist through your torso while continuing to lift upward, driving one shoulder toward your opposite knee. Keep your focus upward and your chin lifted.
>> Pause at the top and squeeze your abs before slowly lowering to the start, placing one vertebra at a time onto the floor.
>> As you curl up, exhale and imagine blowing out all your air to intensify the crunch. Inhale as you return to the start.
Beginner’s tip: Don’t bring your arm across your face to twist. Keep your elbows flared at all times and instead twist through your torso and upper body to do the move.
More Crunch Variations That Scored High in EMG Activation Study
>> Stability-ball crunch
>> Captain’s chair knee raise
>> Legs-up crunch
>> Reverse crunch
>> Traditional crunch
>> Double crunch
Variation To Try Today: Hanging Oblique Crunch
Hang vertically from a pull-up bar with your legs together. Bend your knees and lift them up and to the side, pulling your hip up to your rib cage. Pause and squeeze, then lower slowly to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.