Lying Down Bicycle Exercise to Lose Belly Fat

The bicycle maneuver combines crunches with leg and shoulder movement.
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When trying to lose belly fat, many people turn to exercises such as crunches to firm and develop the abdominal muscles even as they lose weight. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise suggests that crunches aren't the most effective exercise for toning the abdominals and obliques, however; traditional crunches don't even make the top 10. A much better alternative is the bicycle maneuver, a crunch variant that incorporates leg movements as well.

Muscle Activity

The ACE-commissioned study, lead by Peter Francis, Ph.D., at the Biometrics Lab at San Diego State University, measured the amount of muscle activity that occurred in the rectus abdominus and the obliques while performing various exercises. The bicycle maneuver was the number one exercise for the abdominals, producing 148 percent more activity in the rectus abdominus than traditional crunches; the exercise ranked number two after captain's chair lifts for the obliques, which produced 190 percent more muscle activity than traditional crunches.

Performing the Exercise

To perform the bicycle maneuver, begin by lying flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs and bend your knees so they are at a 90-degree angle, then begin rotating your legs in a manner similar to riding a bicycle. Lean up and turn to touch your right elbow to your left knee, then lay back down; repeat this with the left elbow, touching it to the right knee. When you've touched both elbows to your knees, that is considered one repetition. Repetitions can be performed like crunches, either in sets of 10 or in larger numbers as your endurance allows.

Burning Calories

The goal of calisthenic exercises such as crunches and the bicycle maneuver is developing and toning muscles, not burning calories. While the exact amount of calories burned while performing the bicycle maneuver depends on your weight, the number of repetitions that you perform and the speed at which you do the exercise, you would have to perform the exercise for 30 minutes or longer just to burn 200 to 300 calories. As the abdominals and obliques become stronger and more developed through this exercise, however, you will see a rise in overall metabolic rate as your muscles burn more calories throughout the day.

Losing Belly Fat

To lose belly fat, the bicycle maneuver should be only part of a larger overall weight-loss routine that includes calorie-burning exercise and a reduced-calorie diet. By cutting calories from your diet and increasing your physical activity level to include at least 150 minutes per week of exercises, including the bicycle maneuver, you will create a calorie deficit where your body is burning more calories than it takes in. For every 3,500 calories you eliminate this way you'll lose 1 pound of fat, including both the visceral fat and subcutaneous fat that accumulates in and around the belly. Once this fat is burned, the muscles you've toned with the bicycle maneuver will show through and help keep your belly firm.


Always consult your doctor or a personal trainer before dieting or beginning a new exercise routine, especially when using higher intensity exercises such as the bicycle maneuver. This will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about weight loss and will also ensure that you won't injure yourself or suffer complications that might arise with any existing medical conditions that you might have. If you feel weak, dizzy or experience pain while performing the bicycle maneuver, stop the exercise immediately.

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