Upper Stomach Muscles

Week 1

Upper Stomach Muscles

Stomach crunches. There are so many variations on this exercise, you might think there’s no one variety that’s more effective than the next. But there is.

The Bicycle Crunch is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your stomach muscles. These include the muscle that runs down the middle of your stomach (rectus abdominis) and the ones that run diagonally one either side of your stomach (external and internal obliques).

These stomach muscles allow you to bend your spine forward, backward, sideways, and rotate from side to side. The Bicycle Crunch strengthens those muscles by putting a load on them as you move them through their range of motion.

Because all movement begins in your core, these are muscles you want well balanced (neither too long nor too short). You achieve that balance through a regular routine of stretching and strengthening.

Bicycle Crunches exercise more than just your stomach muscles. They also work your low back muscles, your upper back and shoulder muscles, your hip muscles, and the muscles of your upper leg.

Whether you burn fat or firm up your stomach muscles depends on how fast you “pedal” and how many revolutions you do. The faster you pedal and the greater the number of revolutions, the more fat you burn. A slower cadence with fewer repetitions, the firmer your stomach muscles become. Because your focus is strength, exercise at a slower cadence with fewer repetitions.

Twelve to fifteen repetitions per side are the upper range for strengthening. Additional repetitions increase endurance. Since you’re working to strengthen your stomach muscles, limit yourself to 15 repetitions.

During the week, gradually increase the number of repetitions (up to 15 per side) and sets you do.

Week 1 Schedule

This week you’ll add the Bicycle Crunch to your exercise routine. Warm up with stretching. Follow your stretching with Planks, Bridges, and Pointers, each one on a separate day. Do as many sets as you feel like. When you’ve finished that day’s core stabilizing exercise, move on to your Bicycle Crunches.

Bicycle Crunch

1.Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor.

2.Exhale into a Zipper as you lift your head and shoulders off the ground, at the same time bringing one knee across your body to the opposite elbow (your other leg is straight out off the ground, just like the down stroke riding a bike, but on your back). Keep your back flat on the ground and your chin the thickness of a fist from your chest.

3.Alternate pedaling opposite knees to elbows with a steady, unbroken cadence (set your cadence with your breathing, inhaling with one elbow to knee, exhaling on the opposite elbow to knee).

4.Repeat step 3 with as many repetitions as you’re comfortably with, your upper limit 15 per side.

  1. 5.Repeat steps 2-4 two to three times, more if you’re comfortable.