It's easy to build up unwanted fat on the waistline, but cycling can help you lose belly fat and get back into shape – here are a few tips to help you get leaner on the bike.
Keep a steady pace
Although your stomach muscles aren’t working as hard as your quads or glutes when you’re cycling, cycling’s aerobic nature means you are burning fat. Work at a moderately intensive pace, so that conversation is possible, but not easy – less than than 80 percent of your maximum heart rate – three times a week for about two hours. This kind of lower intensity training burns a greater percentage of fat than high intensities, but bear in mind overall calorie burning would be less than higher intensity sessions for the same duration, so don't go overboard with the post-ride snacks.
Related: How to lose weight cycling
Try interval training
To really push the calorie burn, add in some interval training. At the end of your long ride, or if you only have a short amount of time to train, do six sets of all-out efforts, each lasting two minutes, with 30 seconds of rest in between. As you improve you can keep going for longer. Be very aware of traffic if you're doing flat-out efforts on the road – consider making the most of your turbo trainer for these sessions.
You’ll burn loads of calories in a short amount of time doing intervals, and your metabolism will be up for the next 12 hours, meaning you burn extra calories over the course of the day. You’ll soon be rid of that spare tyre!
Related: BikeRadar's Turbo Training videos
Get rid of your spare tyre
Off the bike exercise
Your natural instinct is to concentrate on stomach crunches and sit-ups to remove belly fat. In reality, although these will help to build muscle and improve core strength, they won’t remove fat. You need a more holistic workout that tones and burns calories to get the fat going.
Try aerobic muscle workouts like the 'lying down bicycle' exercise. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and raise yourself up so that your shoulders and legs are off the ground at a 90-degree angle, with your knees bent.
Touch your right knee to your left elbow while extending your left leg, followed by left knee to right elbow extending your right leg. Repeat this, at a controlled speed, in sets of 20 with 30 seconds rest.
Related: Improve core strength
In theory, losing fat is simple: you need to burn more calories than you consume. The bigger the calorie deficit, the greater the fat loss. Be careful to fuel your exercise with slow burning carbohydrates (whole grain pastas and breads) and lean proteins (turkey) and avoid eating much of anything high in saturated fat, like cheese, butter and sugary sweets.
Bear in mind too, that starving yourself isn't wise – if you're not fuelling yourself adequately in your training, you won't be able to get the most from your key sessions – lowering performance – and your body could start dropping muscle mass rather than fat.
Related: Eat your way lean