Cycling has become a very popular sport. It’s a wonderful workout for your body, and you get to do it whilst exploring the outdoors!
You can also cycle on an indoor bike, which is just as good for your body, and you don’t have to worry about the weather!
It is an aerobic activity that can vary in intensity, making it suitable for people of all levels.
Whether your cycling is a means of travel, for a hobby, or as a competitive sport, it is an activity that has a wealth of benefits.
While cycling is known for helping to strengthen the leg muscles and glutes, the benefits it has on your core are sometimes overlooked.
How Is Cycling Good For The Core?
When cycling, although your legs are what push you along, your core is what keeps you stable and steady in the saddle.
When using an outdoor bike, your core is what helps you with your power turns, and helps you control the bike.
This is increased as you ride on more challenging terrain.
Your core muscles are also what keep your back straight while on a ride.
While cycling doesn’t directly target your core, having a strong one will make you a better cyclist.
You can improve your core muscles, in order to improve the quality of your cycling.
You can do this by engaging in core strengthening exercises when not on the bike. Some examples include:
Mountain climbers: To perform mountain climbers correctly, you are to start in a high plank position.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your hips level.
You are then to bring each knee up to your chest at a time, before returning it to the starting position.
You can do these in sets from 20 seconds to a minute. They are great for strengthening your core, and your balance.
Forearm plank: To hold a plank position correctly, you are to lie face down, forearms on the floor with your elbows beneath your shoulders.
Press into your forearms and lift your body up, so that only your forearms and toes are touching the floor.
Hold this position for at least 10 seconds, then work on holding for longer periods of time.
Planks are great for engaging your core, and is a simple pose you can do anywhere there is a flat surface, although a mat or soft surface is recommended, so you don’t hurt your elbows and forearms.
Crunches: While this is a core workout, it mainly targets your abs.
However, performing crunches on the side of cycling and other core exercises, can be a useful addition to your workout routine.
To perform a crunch, you are to lie on your back, with your feet on the floor and hip-width apart.
Cross your arms over your chest, and bend your knees. Then you are to lift your upper body, ensuring to keep your neck and head relaxed, and then return to the floor.
It is important to ensure that you are engaging your core during this exercise, and not pulling from your neck, as this could lead to injury.
Can Cycling Give You Abs?
Your abs are part of your core muscles, and as stated earlier, cycling does not specifically target them.
However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from this activity at all.
If you are cycling outdoors, whenever you go over rough terrain, that is bound to give you a bit of an ab workout, as your core is what is going to keep you steady through all the bumps and twists.
If you’d like to make your abs visible, this means losing fat around the belly area.
While cycling doesn’t target weight loss in this particular area, it is a great activity to lose weight in general (as long as it’s combined with a healthy diet and consistent exercise), which in turn, will make you lose belly fat.
The way to do this is to burn calories, which can be done on both indoor and outdoor bikes.
It can sometimes be easier on an indoor bike, as this is a more consistent ride, so you can set a target as to how many calories you’d like to burn.
Indoor also aren’t weather dependent, meaning you can exercise on them all year round.
Targeting Your Abs During A Ride
If you would like to target your abs and strengthen them, what better way to do this than while you are on a ride?
Below are some exercises you can do that will target your abs. Make sure to only attempt them when you are on a long, straight stretch of road, with no bumps.
Stand up: Standing up while cycling will make your muscles work harder to keep you upright.
On a straight road, lift yourself up from the seat, leaning over the handlebars, so you are somewhat parallel to the floor.
Keep pedaling while holding this position, and feel that glorious burn in your ab muscles!
Sustained Contraction: This is probably the easiest way to work your abs while cycling.
Simply take a deep breath and tighten your abs. Hold them tight for around 10 to 15 seconds before releasing them.
You can do this several times throughout your ride, and is a good exercise for those who are more beginner riders, as you can do this subconsciously while you ride.
Bike Crunches: This exercise will target your abs while also helping you work on your balance.
Whilst riding, contract your ab muscles and bring one elbow in towards your body. Do this slowly, alternating between each elbow.
Keep this up until you need to focus more on the ride, or until you are too tired.
Repeat Lift Off: This is a tough exercise to do while riding, but it will really engage your ab muscles and core.
While pedaling, lift up off the saddle, then slowly go back down, touching the saddle slightly, and lift back up again.
Be sure to keep your abs contracting whilst you complete this exercise.
What Muscles Does Cycling Tone?
The most known area of the body that is targeted by cycling is the lower body. This includes the calves, glutes, feet, and thighs.
However, your arms are also targeted during cycling, especially your biceps and triceps. Your core is also activated while cycling, although not specifically targeted.
Is Cycling Better Than Jogging?
While both are fantastic forms of exercise, running tends to burn more calories than cycling does.
This is due to more muscles being used in running.
Despite this, cycling is gentler on the body, and you may be able to cycle for a longer period of time than you can run.
Running can be quite harsh on the knees and can sometimes lead to joint problems.
Whichever one is best for you will depend on your personal health goals.
Although cycling is not a sport that directly targets your core and abs, it will build on your strength in this area.
In order to improve your cycling skills, continuing to work on your core when you’re off the bike is beneficial, improving your balance, and increasing your ability to remain stable when riding over rough terrain.