Don’t do the Bicycle Maneuver exercise, unless you want strong abs and a flat stomach.
Being the same exercise as the Pilates Criss Cross, the Bicycle Maneuver is rated as the best abdominal exercise by the American Council on Exercise. Since it incorporates both trunk flexion and rotation in one exercise, this is a great ab workout. In addition, no special exercise equipment is needed to do the Bicycle Maneuver.
You strengthen your external abdominal oblique, internal abdominal oblique, rectus abdominis and transverses abdominis muscles by doing this exercise. Compression of your abdominopelvic cavity is the primary action of all four of these muscles. Flexion of your vertebral column is also an action of the obliques and rectus abdominis muscles; while the obliques also rotate your vertebral column.
You will find it easier to rise from a sitting or lying position, provide support for your abdomen and keep your back well aligned by strengthening these muscles. Your physical appearance will also improve.
Even though this is a difficult exercise, the health benefits make it worth the effort to do this exercise regularly as part of your fitness program.
You may have a tendency to lift your torso with your arms and hands as you do this exercise. If you place your hands just behind your ears rather than interlaced behind your head, you can avoid this tendency. By using this technique of hand placement, you will be more likely to lift your torso with your abdominal muscles rather than with your arms.
Begin by lying flat on an exercise mat with your lower back pressed to the mat. Put your hands beside your head and over your ears. Raise your knees to form a 90 degree angle with vertical thighs and horizontal shins. Extend your right leg out with your leg about 30 to 45 degrees above the floor. Keep your left thigh vertical and your left shin horizontal. Raise your shoulders off the mat with your abdominal muscles, and rotate to touch your left knee with your right elbow. Switch legs and rotate in the opposite direction to touch your right knee with your left elbow. Keep even, relaxed breathing throughout the workout. Continue until your muscles are fatigued.
Be persistent and try doing a few more reps of this difficult exercise each day. In a short period of time, you will be doing 5 to 10 or more reps every day, and develop a strong and firm abdomen.