Does biking work your abs?
It is no secret that cycling is excellent for your fitness and has many benefits associated with it. Experienced cyclists are usually lean and incredibly fit. However, their body shape depends on a few different elements.
Some cyclists have large, muscular legs; others have thin and toned legs, depending on their style of riding and cross-training activities.
You will see cyclists that are pretty strong even though they are carrying a little extra weight around their middles, but this is down to diet. Many cyclists have slender physiques, as riding a bike is excellent for burning calories.
But does cycling work your abs? Are the thinner cyclists hiding six-packs under their jerseys?
In this article, we will:
- Answer the question of “does biking work your abs?”
- Discuss how a strong core affects your cycling
- Talk about how to develop your abs while riding
- Highlight how to reveal your abs with cycling
Are you ready to learn how cycling affects your core?
Does Biking Work Your Abs?
Biking works more muscles than those in your legs. Strong cyclists constantly engage their core muscles, especially their abs. Your abdominal muscles stabilize your body while you ride and act as a solid platform to push the pedals from.
Your abs also help you maintain your balance. They constantly contract while you ride to give you stability and help you manoeuvre your bike. These contractions go a long way to tone your abdominal muscles while increasing endurance and strength.
But, simply riding around on your bike won’t give you an incredibly strong core and washboard abs. To make significant improvements that will help your riding, you need to work your core separately off the bike.
How A Strong Core Affects Your Cycling
If you have a weak core, it won’t give you the required stabilization while riding your bike. You will also fatigue much more quickly, as you will need to compensate for the weakness by using smaller muscles.
As we said before, a strong core provides a solid platform to push from. If your core is weak, your body will move from side to side and up and down as you pedal. This unwanted movement makes your pedaling inefficient, wasting your energy.
With a solid base, you can maximize how much power you can transfer to your pedals. This, combined with increased efficiency, allows you to ride for longer and in more comfort. You will experience reduced back pain too.
Another benefit of having a strong core is that you will be able to corner better and move around on your bike when necessary. This is something that all cyclists enjoy, but mountain bikers benefit more, as they can adapt to the terrain more easily.
Having strong legs will only do so much for your biking. To be an effective cyclist who will smash through the finish line and tackle every ascent, you need to develop a strong core.
4. Ways To Develop Your Abs While Biking
You can do a few things while riding your bike to engage your abs. These will help to tone and develop your core muscles which will improve your cycling.
1. Sustained Contraction
The most straightforward core exercise you can do while riding your bike is sustained contraction. As you ride, take a deep breath in and concentrate on flexing your ab muscles.
Continuously hold the contraction for 10 to 15 seconds before releasing. The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it at any time, and you don’t have to divert all your attention to it.
So next time you are grinding away on a boring stretch of road, why not do a few sets of sustained ab contraction?
2. Ride While Standing Up
When you ride while standing on the pedals, your core muscles need to work harder to support your riding position and keep you upright. Every now and again, leave your saddle and lean over your handlebars.
Make sure your stomach is parallel to the ground. This position will work your abs as you pedal.
3. Bike Crunches
This one can be tricky to coordinate at first, but you will soon get used to it. Contract your abdominal muscles while simultaneously bringing one elbow in towards your body.
Keep your hands on the grips and continue to pedal to do this exercise correctly. Alternate this exercise, so you continuously repeat it on each side. Do this until you get tired or until you have to concentrate on your riding.
4. Repeating Lift Off
During your ride, pedal as usual, but raise yourself off your saddle. Lower back down, but only just enough to lightly touch the saddle with your behind, and rise back up again.
Repeat this up and down movement, but remember to keep your abs contracted throughout. You will find this exercise pretty tough, but it is a very effective way of giving your core muscles a workout while you ride.
It is important to remember that you don’t need to do these exercises every time you ride your bike. Also, you don’t have to do all of them.
You should not let these exercises get in the way of your enjoyment. Nor should you do them at the cost of your safety. Do them when the time is right and when you are not trying to beat your 10-mile time or any other goals you have.
However, these exercises are great for strengthening your core. It won’t take long before you feel extra stability, increased efficiency, and improved performance.
Work Your Abs At Home Or In The Gym
You can strengthen your core in the gym to enhance your cycling. There are many machines to work your core muscles, and there are many other free-weight exercises you can do too.
You may want to give Pilates a try, as it is excellent for core strength, and it is something you can do at home without any equipment. But, here are some examples of some core workouts you can do at home:
1. Plank Variations
The plank is a classic exercise that is very good for your core muscles, and you can mix it up to enhance its effectiveness too.
A basic low plank consists of holding your body straight while supporting your upper body with your forearms and elbows. You can hold the position for a few seconds and increase the time as your strength improves.
To make the plank more dynamic, change from the low plank position to a push-up position. Alternate which arm you lead with to even out the exercise. Do 10 to 12 reps 4 times.
2. Hollow Holds
Hollow holds are great for engaging the abs, quads, and hip flexors. To do this exercise, lie on your back with your feet together and arms above your head.
Engage your core by pushing your lower back into the floor while raising your arms and legs off the floor. Hold the position for 15 seconds and increase the time as you improve.
The bridge strengthens your hip flexors, core, glutes, and lower back. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Push your hips up towards the sky by contracting your glutes and hamstrings, pushing your feet into the floor.
Keep your body in a straight line with your shoulders and feet in contact with the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds and do 5 to 10 reps.
How To Reveal Your Abs With Cycling
Everyone has abs; it’s just that most people’s abs are hidden under a layer of belly fat. So, if you want your abs to see the light of day, you need to flatten that stomach.
Riding a bike doesn’t burn fat from your stomach faster than it does from anywhere else. You cannot target where you burn fat from, no matter what fitness influencers tell you.
Either indoors or outdoors, cycling is an excellent way of exercising and burning fat.
How many calories you burn during a ride depends on a few factors. For example, your gender, age, height, and weight all play a part in how many calories a person burns in a given time period.
1. Ride on hilly terrain
Where you ride also makes a difference to how many calories you burn. If you ride in a mountainous area, you will need to climb more, which increases resistance and the intensity of your ride. Therefore, you will burn more calories than if you were riding flat terrain all the time.
2. Ride Regularly
Another factor that will affect the calories you burn is how dedicated you are. If you just ride casually, you won’t burn as many calories as someone who rides aggressively in order to work on their fitness.
If you want to burn fat to reveal your abs, you may want to think about using an indoor bike from time to time. Indoor bikes make it easier to target a specific calorie burn goal. This is because your riding can be more consistent and controlled to reach your goal.
For example, if you were to join a spin class, you can burn up to 800 calories in a one-hour session.
3. Eat well
However, you cannot out-train a poor diet. If you eat and drink badly, your abs will be forever hidden. You need to work on burning more calories than you consume. This calorie deficit will eventually reveal your stomach muscles.
Does Cycling Work Your Abs? – Answered!
As you can see, you can develop your abs while riding a bike, along with many other muscles in your body. However, if you want a six-pack, you need to do more than go for a casual ride.
You can do exercises while riding, at home, or in the gym to strengthen your abs. But the critical thing is to burn off your belly fat to reveal them.
If you are interested in improving your cycling fitness, check out the blogs below: