Will Riding a Stationary Bike Help Me Lose Belly Fat?
Stationary bikes have a ton of advantages: controlled climate, customizable workouts, and easy access, just to name a few. If you have the space (and money) for a stationary bike, they can be a great way to train through the winter, fit in nighttime or early morning rides, or they can even be your main workout.
Stationary bikes are also a great choice for weight loss. However, if you’re getting a stationary bike mainly for this purpose, there are a few things you need to know.
Different Types of Belly Fat
There’s nothing wrong with belly fat, as long as it isn’t hurting your health. That’s why it’s important to distinguish between two types of fat.
- One kind of fat is called subcutaneous fat. This is the fat that sits right below your skin, the fat that you can see. You can pinch it between your fingers. This fat itself is harmless.
- The other kind of fat is called visceral fat and it’s far more dangerous. You can’t see visceral fat because it sits on and around your internal organs, behind your stiff abdominal wall.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. Fat used to just be thought of as a way the body stores excess energy, but we know now that there’s a lot more to it than that.
Researchers have found that fat actually produces chemicals, and it can act as a kind of endocrine gland. However, not all fat is created the same. Visceral fat has been shown to produce a higher volume of harmful molecules, while subcutaneous fat actually produces helpful molecules.
While subcutaneous fat actually helps your body function properly by producing helpful chemicals like leptin, which suppresses appetite and causes the brain to store fat, too much visceral fat has serious health risks.
Visceral fat has been linked to cardiovascular disease, dementia, asthma, and even certain types of cancer. Always consult your physician for any medical advice!
Understanding Visceral Fat
Keep in mind that a lot of what causes belly fat is linked to genetics—if your journey to shedding some fat seems harder than it is for others, remember that we are all traveling our separate journeys.
Even though a lot of what determines a person’s body composition is hereditary, some is dependent on lifestyle choices. Low levels of activity, a diet of foods high in trans fat or fructose, smoking, or insufficient sleep can all lead to more visceral fat.
This means that there is always something you can do if you are concerned about your belly fat—and cycling can be a great place to start!
Burning Belly Fat
It might be tempting to go after belly fat with targeted exercises, like sit-ups. However, while those exercises may tighten abdominal muscles, they will not get to deep visceral fat.
So what does help you burn belly fat? Pretty much any kind of extended exercise! That is, aerobic, anaerobic, and strength training can all make a dent in belly fat.
This makes the recommendation simple: 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, like cycling at a casual pace, can make a huge difference in your belly fat. In fact, one study found that women who paired dieting with 40 minutes of exercise twice per week can maintain weight loss once started.
Cycling to Get Rid of Visceral Fat
There are plenty of ways to get 30-40 minutes of exercise in a day. This could be walking around the block during your lunch break, playing pickup basketball after work, or waking up with a calisthenics routine.
However, the most reliable, consistent, and sustainable exercise to burn belly fat is riding a stationary bike. You don’t have to worry about weather, it’s always in the same place, and cycling is a very low impact exercise—which means you can stay at it longer.
All you need to get started on a stationary bike is a little bit of floor space. You can wear whatever clothes and shoes you normally use to exercise because there is no exposure to the elements on a bike (though wicking clothes are always a good call).
Once you have your bike set up, how do you get down to business? The biggest key is to be consistent. That bike isn’t going to help you lose belly fat unless you use it!
Even if you’re just starting out riding once or twice a week, make sure that you do it consistently, and you do it well. There’s also no use to riding the bike if you keep the pace low every time. Keep working up to new peaks, but keep in mind that we all go at our different paces. Do what is right for you.
There’s no need to overcomplicate your rides, but there are ways to make them better. As we talked about already, almost any kind of exercise helps burn belly fat, so, to avoid getting bored and to make sure you are in a balanced routine, it’s a good idea to try out different workouts throughout the week.
For instance, you might try aerobic workouts on Monday and Friday, with an anaerobic HIIT workout on Wednesday. Or, you can even split your cycling time each day into aerobic and anaerobic sessions.
Once more, the most important thing is to just do it. There is no secret to trimming belly fat. Begin with forty minutes of moderate exercise twice per week, and increase as you feel stronger.