A lot of men and women struggle to shed the pounds of fat that accumulate around the stomach, and some exercises are more helpful than others. It’s not going to melt away with crunches, for instance, because they simply don’t burn enough calories to reveal the muscles that crunches target. You have to help your body burn off the fat with aerobic exercises like cycling, which at a moderate pace of 15 mph can burn 465 calories per hour, according to Dr. Edward Coyle of the University of Texas.
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Ride at 60 percent to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate when you go for long rides. That rate is different for everyone, but generally you can calculate your MHR by subtracting your age from 220. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, this is the optimum range for aerobic exercise.
Burn extra calories by doing interval training, which is cycling at 80 to 90 percent of your maximal effort for several minutes, followed by 30 to 90 seconds of easy pedaling. Interval training has been proven to burn more fat than moderate sustained exercise, according to research by the Queensland University of Technology. Try cycling hard for three minutes and resting for one minute, then working hard for four minutes and resting for one, then working for five and resting for one, and then work your way back down.
Climb hills to simulate intervals in a way that is more fun and still burns lots of fat. When you climb a hill, the muscles in your legs and trunk are engaged much more intensely than when you ride on level ground. This means that your heart rate jumps up and your muscles are bearing a heavier load. Coasting down the other side counts as your rest period.
Make a weekly schedule and stick to it. The calories that cycling burns can add up to pounds of fat, but only if you ride consistently. Beginner cyclists should ride two or three times per week, or four times per week at intermediate levels. If the weather is bad, go to a gym and hop on the stationary racing bikes.
Keep your form tight during the entire ride. As you lean forward onto the handle bars, make sure that your neck is in a neutral position and your back is straight. This not only keeps you from getting lower back and neck pain, it will also engage the muscles in your core and trunk constantly as you ride, burning more calories and ticking off that waistline.
- DrMirkin.com: Calories Burned in Running vs Cycling
- NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition; Jared W. Coburn and Moh H. Malek
- Springerplus: Effect of Interval Training on Fat Oxidation, Blood Lactate Levels and the Rate of Perceived Exertion in Obese Men; 2013