Cycling is one of those wonderful forms of exercise that acts as both a cardiovascular and muscular strengthening workout.
Many people take up cycling with the intention of shedding some pounds and toning up their figures.
In fact, one of the most commonly asked questions by new and prospective cyclists is whether cycling will help them to reduce belly fat.
Right off the bat, we can tell you that yes, cycling can help to reduce belly fat. However, the process may not be exactly what you’re thinking.
Additionally, cycling has many other physical health benefits that new cyclists should be aware of in order to effectively and accurately track their progress.
Read on to find out why and how cycling helps to reduce belly fat, as well as all the other ways this incredible sport can benefit your body!
How does Cycling Impact the Body?
Cycling has various benefits for the human body, from improved heart health and muscle tone to joint lubrication.
Because cycling is primarily a cardio or aerobic exercise, its main benefits are for your heart and respiratory system.
Cycling on a regular basis will stimulate your circulation, which, in turn, will encourage your heart to work harder to pump the blood around your body.
The extra work that your heart muscle needs to do results in the strengthening of the muscle over time. A strong heart muscle is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Moreover, cycling will help to strengthen your lungs because the greater supply of blood from the heart provides the tissue with oxygen, allowing the lungs to function better.
Cycling also works several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and quadriceps, as well as the calf muscles (the soleus and gastrocnemius).
Your core muscles should also be engaged while cycling to maintain the proper posture, without which you may end up putting too much stress on your knee joints.
Of course, during this process, you will also be burning calories. This is what will allow your body to burn fat from multiple areas, including the belly.
Cycling typically burns between 400 and 1000 calories per hour, depending on the intensity.
The more muscle you build, the higher your metabolic rate will get, and the easier you will find it to burn fat.
However, we should stress that while you’ll probably see some results on the scale or in the mirror after cycling regularly for some time, cycling will not specifically target your abdominal fat.
The areas where your body stores the most fat is probably where you will see the most obvious results in terms of fat loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I ride a bike to lose belly fat?
The amount of time you should spend cycling to burn fat, including belly fat, will depend on the intensity at which you are cycling.
If you’re cycling as part of a HIIT program, your sessions won’t need to be as long for you to see some noticeable results. 30 to 45 minutes of high-intensity cycling two or three times per week should be sufficient for you to start seeing some fat dropping off.
However, it’s important to note that high-intensity cycling should only make up a relatively small portion of your routine.
Approximately 80% of your cycling workouts should consist of one to three-hour sessions at a more leisurely pace.
For the most effective fat loss, try to alternate between shorter high-intensity and longer low-intensity cycling sessions.
Make sure to stretch well before and after so that you can stick to your workout schedule without having to contend with pain or injury.
Is cycling more effective than running for reducing belly fat?
Comparing running to cycling in terms of fat loss feels a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
One is a low-impact exercise, while the other is high-impact. They also work different muscle groups and rely on different ranges of motion.
Running does work more muscle groups than cycling does, which, in theory, means that it should be more effective at burning fat.
However, because cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, most athletes will be able to cycle for longer than they can run.
Because longer workouts provide more potential for fat burn, if you’re able to cycle for longer than you’re able to run, you might find that you have better results burning fat from cycling than running.
Is cycling bad for your knees?
Although regular cyclists do seem to have a higher incidence of knee pain compared to people who do not cycle, cycling is actually not considered to be harmful to your knees or any other joints.
The reason for this is that cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, meaning that it doesn’t exert too much force or stress on the joints through impact, like other exercises such as running do.
If anything, cycling has been shown to be beneficial for the knee joints because repetitive, low-impact movements can help to lubricate the joints, minimizing stiffness.
However, sitting in the wrong position on your bike, not making use of your core muscles, or not stretching properly beforehand can increase your risk of experiencing knee pain after cycling.
The short answer to your question is yes: cycling can help to reduce belly fat.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t necessarily isolate certain areas of your body for fat burn.
While cycling is certainly a highly effective form of exercise for fat reduction, you are likely to see fat levels diminishing wherever your body primarily stores fat as opposed to specifically the abdominal area.
This will be different for everyone.
It’s also a good idea to bear in mind the numerous other benefits of cycling on the body.
Cycling strengthens the heart and lungs as well as the hamstring, quadriceps, soleus, gastrocnemius, and core muscle groups.
So, if you don’t see yourself slimming down straight away, try to remember that cycling will definitely be having a positive impact on your body, whether or not you can physically see it.