Given that the US weight loss market is worth a cool $72 billion, I think it is safe to say a lot of people are trying to lose weight, and I am not spared in that area either. Sure a sexier body will help me to look great in cycling gear. However, the correlation showing that belly fat is associated with cardiovascular diseases was reason enough to find out if my love of indoor cycling could help me to lose the extra pounds.
If you are a regular reader, it means that you are already into indoor cycling or are seriously looking into it. Well, I have good news for you. Cycling can help you burn those fats away and stop you from looking like a
How to use indoor cycling training to lose belly fat? To lose belly fat, do moderate to vigorous intensity indoor cycling regularly. Try to incorporate intervals and cross-training into your workout routine. Don’t forget to watch what you eat as that plays just as big of a role as the training itself. Along with regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet will help you lose those pesky pounds and give you the energy for your training and day-to-day activities.
Just to be clear, I don’t have a magic pill for a flatter tummy. If you have one, stop reading, email me, and I’ll give you all my money.
Instead, you need to be consistent with your routine and practice discipline and planning (I know, harder than the riding part).
For those just starting out, this can be a challenge. I advise you to slowly build up your training habit until it becomes a part of your daily routine, just like getting out for a ride used to when you first started.
Why cycling and not sit-ups?
One prevailing exercise myth is that doing sit-ups is the key to reducing belly fat. Targeting the muscles around your belly to keep off the fat in that area seems to make sense. However, sit-ups will not necessarily make you lose belly fat. The proven way to burn fats is through short, intense aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that stimulates your heart and lungs and improves how your body uses up oxygen. Oxygen is a necessary component in burning fats and carbohydrates to turn them into energy.
Cycling, jogging, brisk walking, aerobic dancing (oh how my wife would laugh), and other activities that keep your heart rate up, increase your breath rate, and make you sweat more, fall into this category.
This is not to say that sit-ups are waste of time. In fact, sit-ups, planking, and other spot exercises help you build and strengthen your core.
They can help improve your posture and increase your flexibility. So, they have a place in your exercise routine. Just remember what they are for and don’t expect a magic six-pack to appear from those exercises alone.
How often to train and for how long?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults need at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise spread over the week.
For vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, the recommendation is 75 to 150 minutes spread throughout the week.
I understand that for some, it is going to be hard to achieve consistency at first. And it is difficult to squeeze our workout time into our busy schedule.
However, the key is just to start no matter how little at first.
If you can do only 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes per day, that is better than nothing at all.
Build up your routine until you get to the minimum requirement. And if you miss a day or two, don’t beat yourself over that. Just pick up from where you left off and start over.
How do I know if I’m doing moderate or vigorous-intensity cycling?
Mayo Clinic gives out the following clues to determine if you are doing moderate-intensity activities.
You are breathing faster but not out of breath; you sweat a little, roughly after 10 minutes, and can carry on a light conversation.Mayo Clinic
Of course, the above can be subjective, since what may be a breeze workout for some can cause others to catch their breath.
For a more objective way of determining the intensity of your workout, measure your heart rate.
For moderate-intensity exercise, your heart rate should be around 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
You can calculate
On the other hand, during a vigorous-intensity workout, your breath is deep and rapid, you sweat only after a few minutes, and cannot talk a lot without pausing to breathe.
For moderate intensity, you have to achieve 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
For vigorous-intensity, on the other hand, you should aim for 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
For more detailed information about computing for your target heart rate, you can check this article from American Heart Association.
How do I get the most from my bike trainer workout?
I recommend doing interval training to push the calorie burn. This means alternating a short burst of
Hill climbs are a classic example of this and the perfect type of training to use if your smart bike trainer has those settings.
I also advise cross-training or doing other exercises apart from biking on some other days of the week such as running. This will help to build all-around strength in less used muscles, especially your upper body and your core.
Doing crunches, weight training, planks, squats, and even yoga, if that’s your thing are all good activities to combine with cycling. Also, it gets more interesting if we add variety to our daily training.
Now don’t get overwhelmed. It’s not necessary to jump into all of these at the beginning. Start what you can, then slowly add other activities.
What about diet?
Eating a healthy balanced diet can also help a lot in burning away your fats.
Be sure to steer clear of added sugar in your food. Sodas are the obvious culprit. However, read the label of packaged foods that claim they are low-fat carefully.
They may be low-fat indeed, but most of them are loaded with sugar to make up for the loss of flavor. Besides, the most recent evidence points to fat not being correlated with weight gain after all.
It could also help if you restrict your carbohydrate intake. You don’t have to go full keto, but at the very least stay away from processed carbs and choose whole grain and high fiber options instead.
Consume foods that are high in protein. They will provide energy and help build your muscles. Lastly, don’t forget the vegetables. Apart from the vitamins and minerals they give, vegetables have tons of fiber that will help you feel full for a little bit longer.
Remember that you don’t have to starve yourself when trying to lose weight. You will need the energy for your training and daily activities. On the other side of the coin, don’t use exercise as an excuse to eat carelessly.
Try to monitor your daily calorie intake and compare it to the recommended calorie requirements.
These are general guidelines of course, and your needs may be higher or lower so listen to your body and you will get a feel for what is the right thing for you.
What are other benefits of cycling apart from keeping off fat? Cycling and other aerobic exercises can help in preventing heart disease in the long run. Also, they will help you build strength and endurance. Some studies also suggest that being physically active can help boost your mood and stave off depression.
Wouldn’t outdoor cycling be better if I want to keep fit? Cycling outdoors does give a different kind of feel. If you are living in a rural area or suburbs, a breath of fresh air can be welcoming. However, there may be times that indoor cycling can be better, apart from weather considerations. For instance, traffic may affect how you train. There will be stops, coasting, and slowing down. In indoor cycling, you can control your pace since you don’t have to deal with traffic and other factors and you can achieve your fitness goal in a shorter time.