Churning your legs on a stationary bike is more likely to help you lose an extra belly bulge than crunching your abs. Exercise, especially cardio, helps you lose visceral fat that resides in the deep belly and gain lean muscle. A consistent program that weaves both steady-state riding and intervals into your week burns calories and stimulates fat-burning so you get slimmer
If you're new to exercise, building up to a regular routine that includes a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio five to six times per week. Do this moderate-intensity work by pedaling a stationary bike at an effort that raises your heart rate to between 50 percent and 70 percent of your maximum. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain ways to evaluate whether you're working at this intensity.
If you can't commit 30 straight minutes to stationary biking, you can break it up into 10-minute intervals and still gain benefit to your health and calorie burn to help reduce belly fat.
Once you can manage regular moderate-paced riding, work a little harder at a few of your weekly pedaling sessions. A 2008 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a study showing that when overweight participants worked at a high intensity at two workouts per week and at a low-to-moderate intensity at three workouts they lost more belly fat than participants who worked at a low-to-moderate intensity at all five workouts. This increased fat loss occurred despite all participants burning roughly the same number of calories at each workout.
When you pedal your bike, increase the level or resistance you use at two of your workouts. Go for 20 to 30 minutes at this higher intensity that raises your heart rate to about 75 to 85 percent of your maximum. You'll be left huffing and puffing and build up quite a sweat, but the effort will be worth it when you see your girth go down.
An easy way to estimate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you're 45 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 175 (220 - 45 = 175). If you want a more precise evaluation, seek out a gym that performs metabolic testing.
Steady-state exercise gets you started with fat loss, while high-intensity intervals turn up your fat-burning engine. A paper published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity showed that interval training is more powerful at ridding you of fat, including belly fat, than even paced, moderate workouts.
Every workout you do shouldn't involve HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Consider doing two to three HIIT workouts on the bike per week; use these in the place of steady high-intensity workouts. Other days should still consist of moderate-intensity pedaling, or you'll risk burn out.
To perform intervals on a stationary bike:
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes at a low resistance. Just feel your joints awaken and blood flow increase. Your heart rate will also start to rise, but will not be anywhere near your maximum.
Pedal 1 to 2 minutes with a higher resistance and intense pedal-stroke effort as you can. Feel your heart beat rise, eventually reaching a point where you fear nearly breathless.
Return to an easy effort of pedaling for 1 to 2 minutes. Feel your heart rate recover and your breath rate return to a more controlled level.
Alternate the high-intensity and low-intensity intervals 10 to 15 times total. One of the benefits of high-intensity intervals is that they sizzle fat in a relatively short workout.
Conclude your workout with a 3 to 5 minutes of pedaling easily as a cooldown.
Intervals can take on many different configurations. If 1 to 2 minutes is too long, perform 30-second intervals. Or, to add a new challenge, make your intervals of intense work last 5 to 10 minutes with 2 minutes of easier effort between them.