Riding a bike has a ton of exercising benefits as it works the muscle groups in your lower body, your heart, and lungs. Does cycling work abs? The abdominal muscles constantly contract during cycling to provide stability and increase strength and endurance. The contractions help tone the muscles. However, even though your abdominal muscles are fully engaged during cycling for power and stabilization, cycling is not the most direct, effective exercise for working your abs.
No direct evidence proves whether cycling works the abs or not, but you can use the existing science on what works the abs and apply it to cycling. This article answers all your questions regarding cycling and abs, including does cycling work lower abs? Is biking good for abs? Does indoor cycling work abs? Does road cycling work abs?
When riding a bike, the big muscles in your legs, including the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps, do the bulk of the work. Your abs work hard to stabilize your body and keep you upright.
Abs, famously known as ‘six-pack,’ is the rectus abdominis muscle, which according to Healthline, Trusted Source 6-Pack Abs: What They Mean and How to Get Them Does a six-pack determine the strength and function of your core? Not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know to get strong, functional abs and maybe six-pack abs along the way. www.healthline.com is a narrow muscle that runs from the sternum to the pubic bone. It is intersected with tendons horizontally, creating a rippled appearance of 4 to 8 distinct muscular segments. The tendons bind the rectus abdominis to the abdominal wall.
The rectus abdominis is the outermost layer of ab muscles and thus does not contribute much to the stability of the spinal column. If anything, it is known to be the most superficial muscle of the core.
When working the abs, you work the entire rectus abdominis, including its lower and upper parts. The rectus abdominis and other core muscles play a critical role in bike riding. They protect your spine and transfer forces between your upper and lower bodies. Your abs work twice as hard when riding a bike that is not stationary on unstable surfaces outdoors. Therefore, faster cycling speeds and riding up hills or unstable surfaces can work your abs.
Here are simple ways of developing abs from bike riding:
This is the simplest abs exercise you can do on a bike. Perform a sustained contraction of your abs whenever you are cycling by holding your breath and tightening your abs. Keep your abs tight for 10 to 15 seconds, then release. Repeat the process a few times during the ride.
Riding one-handed puts more pressure and weight on one side of your body. The pressure and instability will make your stomach and lower abs muscles contract more. The more stress and imbalance on the core, the more work the stomach muscles do, increasing contraction on the abs. To get into this effective position, lift one hand off the handlebar and place it on your back during cycling. Switch to the other side to work the abs the entire cycling session.
According to an article by GQ Magazine Trusted Source Get abs by riding your bike | British GQ | British GQ Research reveals that you can get a six-pack by riding your bike www.gq-magazine.co.uk , changing posture when riding a bike uphill or on unstable surfaces activates various muscles, including the rectus abdominis muscles. As with other exercises, maintaining the right posture when cycling can tone specific muscle groups in your body, including the abs. Sit up straight and keep your abs tight when cycling. Avoid slouching, as it will prevent your core muscles from contracting. Read our article on how to maintain correct cycling posture for more details.
A recumbent exercise bike will give you a more intense bike workout than any other bike. Its semi-reclined structure puts more strain on your lower abs and obliques, and thus working your abs as pedal.
If you are in the market for a recumbent exercise bike, consider the Schwinn recumbent bike series. It has first-rate features including enhanced Bluetooth activity and a large contoured seat for comfortable workouts.
Try standing during cycling to work your abs. Your stomach muscles work twice as hard to support and keep you upright when you cycle while standing. Stand up from your bike saddle from time to time and lean over the handlebars so that your stomach is parallel to the ground. Stay in this position as you continue to pedal.
Come back down and touch the saddle lightly, then get back to the stand-up position. Keep your abs contracted while repeating this up and down movement. Although it is a tough one, the varied seat and stand-up technique is a great way of working the abs when cycling.
Here are more tips for maximizing your cycling experience:
Picking the right time to cycle can help you optimize your cycling experience. The best time to go cycling is when you are on an empty stomach as your body will resort to using the energy stored in fatty tissues to fuel you. You will burn more fats and have enough energy to keep going. Try cycling before breakfast when your blood sugar is low to achieve lean and toned muscles.
High Interval Training, commonly known as HIIT exercises are another prime way of working the abs. According to Medical News Today Trusted Source High intensity interval training (HIIT): Benefits and how to start High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that combines short bursts of intense activity with periods of rest. Learn about the potential benefits here. www.medicalnewstoday.com , HIIT exercises are better than moderate intensity exercises for maximum health outcomes.
Riding a bike uphill or mountain biking is a form of HIIT exercise as it constantly keeps the core engaged. Your body fat levels will decrease significantly and your core muscles will be stronger.
Proper hydration is crucial when doing any type of exercise. Carry plenty of water to your cycling adventures and drink a lot to stay hydrated. Besides hydration, mind what you eat for improved abdominal strength. Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar.
As mentioned earlier, cycling is not a direct way of working the abs. A sure bet for strengthening your abs and getting an illustrious six-pack is doing core work off the bike. Doing core workouts twice or thrice per week will tone your abs. You can incorporate them in your total body strength training routine.
Some of the core exercises you can try include:
The plank is a static exercise that engages various muscles groups in the body thus highly effective at strengthening your core. You can do any variant of the plank (side plank, full plank, plank from knee, plank to press-up, and plank knee to elbow) to strengthen your core.
Here is how to do the average full plank:
For the plank and other exercises that require you to touch or lay on the floor, you will need a mat. According to most reviews, the Amazon Basics 1/2-Inch Extra Thick Exercise Yoga Mat is the best exercise mat that money can buy. It is extra thick, thus comfortable and its textured foam construction will give you the traction and stability you need during workouts.
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Cycling is undoubtedly one of the best full body exercises for working the heart and the lower body. It is a top choice for many workout enthusiasts because it is straightforward: all you have to do is pick up your bike and ride. Does cycling work abs? Cycling uphill or mountain biking works the abs. Does road cycling work abs? Riding a bike on even surfaces will not work your abs directly and it may take you a while before you see a six-pack peeping.
Although cycling is not the most effective exercise for building abs, there are some things you can do to maximize the outcome, like riding in the correct position, riding before eating a meal, and contracting the abs when riding. You can do complementary exercises like planks, and mountain skater to hasten the process of developing abs.