Abs workouts are often about volume, like knocking out 50 to 100 crunches at a time. With so many reps, form inevitably fades by the end, robbing you of the workout’s full potential. The banded bicycle crunch is the fix.
Like traditional bicycle crunches, this move works the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), obliques, and hip flexors. But adding the band bumps up the resistance for more muscle building. Better yet, it slows things down. “The lower tempo allows muscles to work harder, rather than relying on speed and momentum,” says Lanae Rhodes, director of training and development at SLT in New York City.
To start, loop a small resistance band around your feet, extend your legs, lift your upper back, and perch on your butt. With hands behind your head, rotate your torso clockwise and pull your right knee back, then reverse and switch sides for one rep. Start with three sets of 12, and between sets, hold a plank for 30 seconds to engage the transverse (deep stabilizer) muscles in the core. Do this three or four times a week. And save those speed reps for a recovery day.
￼Hold It Right There
To get the most out of your workout, try this: With each rep, pause at the end, then give your abs an extra contraction, which helps hit small muscles a little more.
As your legs tire, the muscles at the top of your thighs will start to crap out. To maintain endurance, squeeze your glutes with each leg pull, which also helps to maintain a strong core.
Rather than making contact between elbow and knee, focus on drawing knee and armpit toward each other, which forces the obliques to work harder.