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It’s been a chaotic few years. You’ve had to adapt your home to become an office, a daycare (for your tiny humans and pets) and maybe even a gym. And if you had a fitness routine previously, it may have been pushed aside in favor of midnight walks to the fridge.
Spending extra time at home may have resulted in some additional unwanted pounds in your midsection and if you’re reading this, you likely have questions about belly fat. Look no further. We’re here to tell you how something as fun as spinning on a stationary bike can target fat loss without breaking the bank.
In this article you’ll learn:
How effective is stationary biking, really?
You’ve probably noticed that some of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances have ditched the gym entirely in favor of their own home fitness equipment. Specifically, stationary bikes became all the rage this past year for celebrities, fitness lovers, and couch potatoes alike.
That’s because stationary biking is an incredibly effective low-impact workout that boosts cardio fitness, builds strength, and you guessed it, burns belly fat.
Let’s take a look at the basics of fat loss to understand how stationary biking can help you target your problem areas.
The basics of belly fat
There are two types of belly fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Think of subcutaneous fat as the fat stored just under your skin that you can feel by pinching yourself. We all have some subcutaneous fat that protects our body and serves as an energy reserve; however, too much of this kind of fat can be unhealthy.
Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds your internal organs, including your heart and liver. It’s stored deep inside the belly. Too much visceral fat can be a sign of metabolic syndrome, a collection of disorders that includes high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.
Belly fat isn’t just an aesthetic concern. Too much can indicate high levels of both kinds of fats and lead to lasting negative health implications.
How does your body burn fat?
Fat cells exist primarily to store energy. When we consume high-calorie foods, the body expands the number of fat cells required to accommodate excess energy. While this worked well for our ancestors who needed to preserve energy when there was no food available, many modern-day humans have accumulated an excess storage of fat due to an overabundance of food, safe living conditions, and sedentary lifestyles.
When we begin a new exercise regimen and limit calories, our bodies use the energy stored in fat cells to fuel activity. We also stop putting away so much fat for storage. Our bodies are smart. They readjust by decreasing the number and size of fat cells. If we maintain a healthy lifestyle, we reabsorb extra empty fat cells and render them as waste.
Can you target belly fat with exercise?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as ‘spot-reducing’ fat. It’s our genetics that determines where our bodies burn fat first. While you might lose it in the area you most recently gained it, weight loss does differ for men and women. Women usually lose weight all over but hold onto fat in their thighs and hips the longest and men usually lose weight in the belly first.
Don’t let this discourage you. Even if your belly isn’t the first spot you see fat loss after beginning a new fitness regimen, the results you want will be within reach with consistent training.
What exercise burns the most belly fat?
Fat loss comes down to a few aspects including food intake, increased energy usage and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
Any exercises that burn calories are great for our bodies; however, there’s research to suggest that aerobic exercise like cycling, swimming and using an elliptical are the most effective for burning fat. This is because, to lose fat, your body needs an increased flow of oxygen and aerobic exercises allow you to work hard for long periods without tiring out.
While cardio is the most effective way to burn fat during a workout, strength training and other anaerobic exercises like sprinting and HIIT, will also keep your body burning fats after each workout by boosting your metabolism. Try coupling your cycling regimen with strength training and a healthy diet to target stubborn belly fat.
Does an exercise bike tone your stomach?
Stationary biking doesn’t just tone the legs and glutes. It can also improve muscle tone in your stomach.
While spinning, you activate your abdominal muscles to keep stable as your pedal. These muscles contract throughout your workout which improves your overall abdominal strength. The combination of fat and weight loss with strengthened abdominals will lead to a toned look in your midsection.
How long should you ride a stationary bike to lose weight?
To enhance fat loss and maintain a healthy weight, we recommend the average person cycle at a moderately intense pace for 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. During an hour-long session, a 155-pound person will burn an average of 600 calories per hour.
The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is an important variable you can use to measure the effectiveness and intensity of your cycling session. On the RPE scale from 1 to 10, a moderate level of activity is 4-6 and means you’re breathing heavily, are still somewhat comfortable, but feel noticeably challenged throughout the stationary bike workout.
Begin pedaling the spin bike flywheel at a moderate pace. Over time, your endurance and fitness levels will increase and you’ll begin to lose belly fat. Aim to ride 20% of the time at a higher level of intensity, and 80% of your workout at a moderate intensity.
To push the calorie burn and promote fat loss, you can add in interval training during your at-home cycling sessions. Try spinning to the beat of a song with a fast chorus and slower verses to keep your heart rate up. Do a few sets with all-out efforts for short periods and you’ll begin to see results in due time.
Having trouble getting started with aerobic exercise ? Check out our 6 treadmill workouts you can do to lose weight and burn fat.
How does stationary biking differ from running?
Indoor cycling is gentler on the body than running. While the number of calories you burn in either exercise depends on the intensity and length, most people can cycle for longer and faster than they can run.
A 10-minute cycling workout that includes interval training can achieve the same benefits as a different less intense 30-minute continuous session like jogging. A person who weighs 155lbs will burn around 300 calories per hour indoor cycling at a speed of 20km/hr or running at a speed of 8km/hr. However, running puts more stress on the body, meaning that most moderately active individuals won’t be able to run as hard as they can cycle on a stationary bike.
Why you should consider indoor cycling
Still not convinced stationary biking is for you? Here are a few of the many benefits:
1. It’s affordable and convenient
You don’t have to go on a spending spree taking expensive spin classes to get a cycling workout at home. With Ascend Exercise Bikes, you can reach your fitness goals from the comfort of your home, at a time that works for you. The quality of our bikes will impress fitness fanatics but are user-friendly enough for first-timers. The best part: with an at-home set-up, you’ll be able to schedule your workouts around your life instead of the other way around.
2. It’s safer than road cycling
Using a stationary bike is safer than road cycling. Like almost everything in life, cycling outside contains an element of risk. Stationary biking is a great way to mitigate the risk of injury due to outdoor elements whether you’re a confident biker or not. It’s also a good option if you’re a regular outdoor cyclist but are trying to avoid harsh weather conditions, unpredictable terrain or poor air quality.
3. You can choose the intensity
Think about it: when you cycle outdoors, you can’t choose the elevation of a hill if you’re not up to climbing it.
With a stationary bike, you’re in the driver’s seat during every workout. If you want to scorch calories at a high level of intensity, you can do just that. If you’re looking for a more relaxed workout, you can pedal along to the beat of your favourite slow tunes. While spinning may seem a bit intimidating at first, remember that you can adjust the intensity as you want.
4. It’s a low-impact workout
Using a stationary bike allows you to get your heart rate up with less wear and tear on your ankles, knees and other joints. Low-impact exercises including cycling put less stress on your body. This means indoor cycling is a great option for those who are new to working out, athletes who are injured or recovering from injuries, those who are overweight and can’t do load-bearing exercises, or those with knee or joint issues.
5. You’ll build strength
While you may feel inclined to concentrate on crunches and sit-ups, spinning on a stationary bike is an efficient way to improve core strength. This is because proper spin bike form requires full engagement of the core. Regular cycling sessions will also help improve muscle strength in your lower body by targeting your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves as you spin away.
6. It’s fun
Getting healthy and losing belly fat doesn’t have to be a chore. Hopping on a stationary bike and pedalling to your favourite music will boost feel-good endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. During each workout, these chemicals are released, making you feel happy, less stressed and more motivated during the day.
7. It boosts brain power
Did you know that aerobic exercises like spinning can improve your mental health too? Those same feel-good endorphins that make exercise fun can enhance your sense of well-being. Regular cycling sessions can reduce anxiety and depression, and help you maintain a positive mood. The mental benefits of aerobic exercises have a neurochemical basis that reduce levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in the body. Therefore, indoor cycling can improve your self-esteem, stress levels and cognitive function.
How can I begin my fitness journey to lose belly fat?
At Ascend, we’re on a mission to make home fitness accessible because we know that getting started is the hardest part of achieving your objectives. That’s why we’ve created equipment and a community to help you every step of the way.
Indoor cycling is an excellent total body workout that will increase your stamina, improve your cardiovascular fitness, boost your mood, trim your waistline and help you reach whatever fitness goals you set for yourself.
Above all else, strive for progress over perfection. With a bit of persistence, you’ll be achieving milestone goals in no time.