Is Cycling Actually Good For Abs? (Here’s What To Know)
Cycling is one of the many exercises that help maintain your body fat and keeps you fit. It can even benefit your cardiovascular system including your lungs, and heart. It is popular amongst many weight loss experts for its efficiency in shedding fat and toning the muscles.
Cycling cannot help you build abs but it can help you lose weight, which may give the appearance of more toned ab muscles. If you are looking to build abs, you should focus on exercises that target the abdominal muscles, such as crunches and sit-ups.
There are many factors that contribute to the development of abs, including genetics, diet, and exercise. Cycling can help you burn calories and improve your fitness, but it is not the most effective way to build abs.
In this article, I’ll give a more detailed explanation of how cycling affects your abdominal muscle groups.
Read on to find out.
Does Cycling Only Tone Your Abs?
Cycling alone would not give you abs but that does not necessarily mean that your core muscles would not benefit from cycling. While cycling, a rider uses his core muscles for stabilization, which means while his core keeps him steady and stable in the saddle, it is also toning up.
This is intensified when the rider is tackling rocky and steep terrains. Normal cycling does not always provide enough movement for the abdominal muscles, but if the intensity of the ride increases, so does the abdomen activity.
Since cycling alone does not tone the abs, one can perform exercises that can tone the abdomen muscles while cycling.
Is Cycling Good for Building Abs?
Although cycling is good for toning abdomen muscles, it’s not good for building abs. If you want to build abs, you need to do specific exercises that target those muscles. You can’t just rely on cycling activity to give you the results of the ab you want.
Cycling delivers a range of benefits including toning the entire body. Even though cycling alone can not give you a proper six-pack, cycling will give your abs sufficient exercise because it is good for the core.
Owing to its many weight loss and fitness benefits, many people prefer cycling instead of joining the gym.
If you want to specifically target your abs while cycling, you will have to increase the intensity of your ride to fully engage your core muscles such as the abs. When you ride a bike, your core is engaged in keeping that upright and holding the upper body in a stable position.
When you are riding a bike outside on rocky terrain, the bike is not stationary and often travels over unstable surfaces which causes the abs to work hard to control the stability of the bike.
But overall, that’s about the only toning cycling provides for the abs. However, there are ways that a person can tone his abs more while cycling.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: The Disadvantages Of Cycling? (Are There Really Any?)
How to Work Out Your Abs While Cycling?
Here are some of the things you can practice for a workout for your abs while cycling.
#1 Build Up Your Stamina
To work out your abs while cycling, start slowly and build up your stamina. Don’t try to do too much too soon or you’ll just get tired and give up.
Start by pedaling at a moderate pace for a few minutes to warm up your muscles. Then, increase your speed and pedal as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Slow down and recover for a minute or two, and then repeat the process.
As you get stronger, you can increase the length of time that you pedal at a high intensity. Aim for three to five sets of 30 seconds of hard pedaling, followed by a minute or two of recovery.
#1 Ditch the Saddle
To achieve abs while you are cycling you have to get out of the saddle, quite literally just get out of the bike seat. Research shows that cycling while standing up will cause the muscles of your stomach to work hard to stabilize the pelvis once you leave the saddle support.
This technique is known for toning the abdomen, glutes, biceps as well as triceps, and then it eventually gives you abs.
If being off the saddle is too difficult for you, you can easily practice and gain stability by continuously moving up and down from your bike saddle until you learn to cycle while being lifted off the saddle.
Engage your abs by lifting your bottom off the seat from time to time, lean forward over the handlebars, so your stomach is almost parallel to the ground, and keep pedaling. I’d say change the position by sitting down again to relax.
This will help you slowly sustain your abdominal muscles because when you’re standing the muscles are engaged in keeping you upright and stable.
So the next time you ride your bike, try this technique to work out your abs.
» I have also written this post, about: How Many Miles to Bike a Day?
#2 Bike Crunches
One of the many popular ways to work the abs while riding a bike is doing bike crunches. Normal people might think about how one can perform crunches while riding a bike. However, crunches do not always mean exercises using an abdomen crunch bed or crunches on the yoga mat.
You can easily do bike crunches when you’re riding a bike by moving one elbow close to the side while continuing to hold the handlebar.
Do this while contracting your abs and do not stop pedaling. After a while, switch to the other elbow and repeat. Continue doing this until you feel tired or want to just focus on cycling.
Bike crunches are known to deliver a tightening effect on the abs.
Doing this while riding a bike will engage your entire core and easily tone your abs. It is a great way to target your lower abdomen muscles and this serves as great cardio too.
#3 Abs Contractions
Hold your breath for a period of about 10 to 15 seconds and then release and relax. Continue to do these ab contractions throughout your ride. This is easy because this does not require much attention or body movement.
Abs contraction is another variation of bike crunches but with less elbow movement. While you are riding a bike, make sure to keep the abdomen muscles contracted. It is easy since you just have to take a deep breath and focus only on tightening your abs.
Its simplicity does not mean it is not effective.
This is important for many professional bike riders across the world because it helps to tone the midsection of the stomach. You can easily tighten your abs by putting pressure on your core through abs contractions.
» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: How to Turn a Bicycle into a Stationary Bike?
#4 Lift Offs
Another way of toning your core muscles and building abs while riding a bike is doing lifts off. This is much like ditching the saddle; however, for lifts off, you need to continuously move your body up and down while pedaling and keeping your abs contracted.
This is a bit tough but it is considered to be a great workout for the abs and core. Lift-offs will ignite your abdomen muscles.
Continue to do lifts off when you ride a bike and you will instantly feel the tightening in your core muscles the next day.
#5 Consider Mountain Biking
Naturally, the harder you work the more you will see the results. If you are looking to build abs while cycling, the terrain you ride on is important. Quite evidently, biking on a mountain will make you work the hardest, which will help tone your body the most.
The terrain plays a big role since it decides how much you will use your core while riding.
If it is flat terrain, you won’t be engaging the abs or core muscles. According to the research of the American College of Sports Medicine, if you are cycling on a road bike, your body and bike are usually working in harmony.
It is great for somebody who is looking for a comfortable and relaxing ride.
If you are looking to burn your belly fat and tone your core muscles then flat terrain is not recommended for you.
If you want to engage your abs, you have to ride a mountain bike over rocky terrain. Find hills nearby and go for a ride over there. Mountain biking is an ideal way to work out your abs because when you are cycling uphill you tend to engage all your core muscles in the cycle.
Mountain biking is challenging for the body’s abdomen muscles because riding on unstable surfaces requires more work for the core muscles to stabilize the body.
Make sure to wear your safety gear before mountain biking.
» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: Mountain Biking A Good Hobby? (14 Reasons To Start Cycling)
#6 Try HIIT Exercises
One of the most popular exercises to build six packs is HIIT training. This can potentially reduce body fat levels and build the core muscles. According to research, HIIT exercise is steady state training for losing weight.
There is an 80/20 rule that cyclists have to follow. Bike riders can pedal 80% of the time at a lower intensity and 20% at medium to high intensity.
Try following this 80/20 method of HIIT and you will instantly see how effective it can be in burning fat and calories in the long term.
HIIT is known to significantly increase your fitness level and reduce abdominal and total body fat.
It is not necessary to do these exercises every time you go cycling and you do not need to incorporate each one of these into your cycling routine. Building abs requires patience so you can take your time to focus on strengthening your muscles.
What Is Better For Abs: Running Or Cycling?
Running and cycling both are great forms of exercise that significantly improve cardiovascular fitness and build body strength. Running is said to burn more calories than cycling, whereas cycling can build and strengthen more muscles.
Both cycling and running are good for building abs and losing weight. Deciding which one is better depends on a person’s fitness goals.
Running works more efficiently in toning the abs because running can occupy and engage all the muscles in the body. A person’s stomach muscles work much more in running than they do in cycling.
On the other hand, cycling does not build or tone the abs directly. Cycling can only tone the abs after some intensified exercises are applied alongside it.
People often prefer cycling because it is light and gentle on the body and does not eat up one’s stamina as fast as running does.
Running targets weight loss more, rather than building muscles.
If I compare the two, a person who runs for 10 minutes straight can burn about 150 calories, whereas a person who cycles for 10 minutes can only burn about 97 calories since the person is sitting down and losing much stamina.
Although running targets more calories, cycling still wins the game as it puts less strain on the body.
Plus, it is pretty easy to maintain a cycling routine for weeks or months since cycling is fun and more comfortable than running.
» Read my blog post: Why Bike Seats are Uncomfortable?
Can Cycling Get You a Six Pack?
Achieving a six-pack with only cycling is impossible. Cycling can strengthen your core and potentially help you burn calories however, a six-pack can only be achieved through intensive exercises and training. Overall, you can only tone and strengthen the core muscles while cycling. Building a six-pack requires a much more extensive routine than cycling.
Does Cycling Help With Belly Fat?
Yes, cycling can help burn belly fat but it requires patience. According to studies, cycling regularly can enhance overall fat loss as well as promote fitness. It is not difficult to lose belly fat and burn calories through cycling but it is important to stay consistent and motivated.
How Much Belly Fat Can You Lose While Cycling?
Cycling for at least 1-2 hours is great for burning belly fat since lower intensity and high-duration training can burn more fat than a shorter duration and high-intensity workout at the gym. You can significantly burn around 400 per hour while cycling. It also depends on your cycling style and weight.
Cycling is undoubtedly a great and healthy way to stay fit and burn unwanted fat. It is a fun and comfortable exercise which can help you tone your body.
Overall, cycling is good for building abs but there are still many factors and exercises that one needs to incorporate to build abs. Make sure to pair your cycling routine with these workout tips as well as take care of your diet if you want to achieve a toned stomach.
Remember, that consistency and determination is the key to achieving significant results. I hope this guide helps you.