Different fitness goals come and go, but having strong, toned abs is one that sticks around. If you’ve been enjoying the heart-racing challenge of cycling workouts, you may be wondering: Does cycling work abs too?
We’ll get straight to the point: You’re not going to get a six-pack or ab crack from cycling alone, but workouts on a stationary bike can help get you closer to your goal.
Cycling can only help so much in your pursuit of washboard abs because your core is a muscle group, not a single muscle. Because of that, “performing a variety of exercises that work your upper and lower core, transverse abdominis, and obliques will give you the results you are looking for,” explains Jaclyn Alterwein, senior manager of music and content at BODi and group fitness instructor .
How Does Cycling Develop Abs?
When we talk about working the abs, most people are concerned about two things: strengthening the core and losing enough fat for the abdominal muscles to show. Cycling can help with both of these things.
Though exercises like cycling can help create a calorie deficit needed to lose body fat, you can eat more than you’ve burned during a cycling workout. If revealing your abs is a priority, examine your diet to see if you’re eating at a slight deficit.
Here’s a peek at how cycling can help develop those abs!
1. Cycling torches calories
The amount of calories you burn while cycling depends on your weight, body composition, and how hard you’re working — but it can be a lot. The average 150-pound person will burn 417 calories in a 50-minute indoor cycling session if they’re giving medium effort (150 watts). Increase the effort to 200 watts, and they’ll burn off 1,042 calories.
That means riding a bike can help create a calorie deficit needed to lose fat, which can help reveal your abs over time.
2. It revs your metabolism
Low-intensity cardio workouts burn calories while you’re doing them. High-intensity cardio work, like indoor cycling, “will ‘rev’ your metabolism so you continue to burn calories off the bike,” explains Alterwein.
In fact, fat loss is one of the big benefits of cycling. Paired with a healthy diet and strength training, that can help you work toward “developing a lean physique that ‘reveals’ all the hard work you have put into strengthening your oh-so-important abs!” she adds.
3. BODi cycling workouts include mat work
Many BODi cycling workouts have mat work sections that include abs work to continue developing your core. Alterwein says there are also other programs that can complement the abs work you’re doing while riding a bike.
“Our mobility and yoga classes incorporate lots of balance and full-body movements which also work the abdominals,” she says. But if you don’t want to overthink your off-the-bike training, she suggests turning to the tried-and-true plank.
Tips to Work Your Abs on the Bike
- Unlike with other workouts, you shouldn’t try to brace or actively tighten your abs on a stationary bike. Instead, keep your back flat and focus on your core during the time you spend standing on the bike. Your lower back will thank you, since those muscles naturally engage when you’re cycling!
- To make the most of your cycling session, “focus on activating the abdominals when lifting out of the saddle and for those high-intensity intervals when you are challenged with added speed or resistance,” advises Alterwein.
- Still not sure if you’re doing it right? Take a second to assess how you’re moving. “An activated core will prevent your upper body from swaying,” says Alterwein. If you feel yourself swaying, take a couple of extra seconds to try to re-engage your core to give yourself more stability.
- Integrate core work into your cooldown for an added burn in those abs! If you have an extra 15 minutes, try a core-centric flow from Yoga52 or a 600 Seconds ab workout, which takes even less time!