Unfortunately, a leisurely cycle every once in a while will not achieve your aims of a flat stomach. However, cycling is a great way to work your core – you just need to do the right training. In just a few weeks, the difference will be noticeable. Here’s why:
A core workout
Having a strong core is vital for peak performance. When it comes to cycling, it’s no different. The stronger your core, the better your riding performance and the more riding you do the stronger your core will get – perfect!
When pedalling try to engage your core muscles. Away from the bike, exercises such as crunches and the plank are great for beefing up those central muscles! This toning and strengthening regime, combined with cardio (cycling), will greatly improve the appearance and condition of your core – burning fat and igniting the muscles at the same time.
The plank – Ensure your lower back is straight, keeping your bum flat, along with your head and neck in a neutral position. The plank really is an incredibly easy exercise that doesn’t take up loads of time and costs no money. As well as boosting your muscular strength, the plank is suited to cyclists as it improves core stability – key when sprinting and climbing. Good plank workouts help maintain upper body strength, meaning you can hold your cycling position for longer, more comfortably, without swaying from side to side.
Workout – Hold the plank for 45 seconds in the first instance. Take a short break and then hold the plank for 35 seconds. Lastly, finish with the plank for 25 seconds. As you improve, add 10 seconds onto each set.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Having previously discussed the benefits of HIIT in our blog, we can’t stress the benefits enough. The greater the intensity of your training, the greater the amount of fat that will be burnt. Combining sprints into your cycling training will naturally contract the core muscles, increase aerobic output and burning a greater amount of calories. The power gains are also significant, meaning better overall performance and improved stamina. Additionally, HIIT results in your metabolism continuing to churn through calories for several hours after your workout.
If the weather is bad and you don’t fancy going outside, hop onto a turbo trainer and enjoy a session indoors! Just remember to include sprints every few minutes or so to really ignite the fat burning!
Perfect your posture
A strong core will help maintain a natural and comfortable riding position, meaning a better posture and less strain whilst cycling. While there may be a temptation to curve your back (especially when the going gets tough), always try to keep your back straight, with shoulders relaxed and abs engaged. Not only will your cycling improve, but you will notice a better posture in general. With a better, upright, posture comes a slimmer image – and it is your core muscles that will help you achieve this. They are the muscles that keep the body upright, stable and minimise injury. Back pain is a very common injury, particularly for cyclists, so ensure a weak core isn’t the cause.
Having a strong core will greatly aid cycling efficiency. Without core strength, your technique may suffer, power may be lost, posture becomes worse and injuries become more likely. As soon as you start to sway from side to side you start to lose maximum power output. A strong core will keep you straight and maximise the power that will keep you going when it gets tough.
Finally, a rock hard core will eliminate energy wastage and save all the energy you have for exactly what you want it for: efficient, powerful cycling.