A compliance function is used to quantify the shielding capacity of grain bridging, the degradation of which is the main cyclic fatigue mechanism in alumina. Materials with different grain sizes were processed and the fatigue experiments were performed using the double torsion test. Significant degradation is observed in the coarse grain material and a marked sensitivity to the loading level is outlined. At moderate loads, bridging degradation occurs prior to fatigue crack growth during an incubation period. At low cyclic loads, the shielding capacity can be entirely degraded, leading to a cyclic fatigue threshold equivalent to that of the fine grain material.