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If losing belly fat is your big goal, then indoor cycling is definitely a great choice.
Indoor cycling can help turn your body into a fat-burning machine by improving your cardio, keeping you in a healthy calorie deficit, toning your core, and speeding up your metabolism.
I’ve been pretty addicted to indoor cycling in its various forms over the last decade at least, and in this post, I’ll share the ultimate 15 tips on how to lose belly fat through indoor cycling.
1. Cycle A Minimum Of 3 Times A Week
To get the most out of your sessions, you need to think about both a weekly and more long-term plan.
Just one indoor cycling session a week isn’t going to do a whole lot of good.
So what’s the optimum number of sessions?
Well, the minimum you want to shoot for is 3 times per week.
According to Cycling Weekly, ‘To keep progressing and improving your fitness, you ideally need to be riding your bike every two to three days… The minimum you can get away with and still see significant fitness gains is three rides a week.’ (Source)
Cycling three times a week plus is going to really kickstart your metabolism.
It’s also the point where the cardio and endurance benefits really start to pay off.
Both of these things really help to get the fat dropping off!
‘To keep progressing and improving your fitness, you ideally need to be riding your bike every two to three days… The minimum you can get away with and still see significant fitness gains is three rides a week.’Cycling Weekly
2. Consider Cycling 6 Times A Week For A Period
Many people like a real challenge when they get started with indoor cycling and fat loss, and a good to do for a short period (like a month) is to try to cycle every day, with just one rest day a week.
Why the rest day?
Health experts tend to agree that at least one rest day per week is really beneficial for a multitude of reasons. It helps your body recover, and rebuild, and minimizes the risk of injury. (Source)
In many ways, one rest day is as important as the days of exercise.
So give yourself one day off. But if you can cycle every day apart from that, you really throw gasoline on your goals!
Cycling every day fully activates the benefits of indoor cycling, such as:
- Metabolism increase
- Keeping a calorific deficit
- Burning body fat
One bonus I’ve found as well is that it gets easier every day. You have less mental resistance, and your body and mind are just more ready for the experience.
3. Interval Training
After you’ve made a decision on how much indoor cycling you want to do, the next is to think about how to do it.
One thing you want to integrate into your sessions is interval training. It’s fine to just cycle at one static pace throughout a session, but if you mix your pace up with fast and slow bursts, the results are much improved.
Interval training is the process of separating your session into periods of high resistance and low resistance, or sprints, and periods of relatively low intensity.
As your session progress, you can:
- Make the sprints longer
- Make the speed of the sprints more intense
- Increase the frequency of the sprints
Fun fact – if you use interval training, then even if you cycle the same distance over the same time as another cyclist going at a steady speed, then you will burn up to 30% more calories.
4. Integrate Climbs Into Your Session
Another way to really ramp things up is to replicate the experience of cycling climbs in your session.
The easiest way to do this is to set the resistance much higher. Cycle at this intensity for a set period – between 30 seconds to 2 minutes – before lowering it again for a period of low intensity.
Mix up these intervals throughout your session.
If you go to an organized spin class, this will be happening anyway. If you are cycling alone at home, then you can watch classes online. There are many free cycling sessions on youtube that work brilliantly.
5. Get Out Of The Saddle
Another way to really burn belly fat is to get out of the saddle. This has a few benefits.
Firstly, it makes cycling weight-bearing. A weight-bearing exercise is one where your body weight is supported by your legs.
When you are sitting in your saddle, cycling is actually non-weight-bearing, as your weight is supported by the saddle.
Having periods of being weight-bearing is good because it puts extra force through your legs and glutes. This really helps to feel the burn in these muscles, and burn more fat.
There are lots of different cycling positions you can actually attempt when you get more confident with indoor spinning. I found this brilliant youtube video by Kayleigh Cohen Cycling, in which she goes through the basic positions you can use:
6. Join A Class – Either Real World Or Online
For added motivation and a sense of accountability, it might be a good idea for you to join a class.
Spinning classes are super-popular at most gyms, and there are also online options as well.
A spin class will give many benefits, including:
- Tap into the herd mentality as a source of motivation
- Learn the right techniques
- Integrate interval training and climbs into your ride as part of the session
7. Cycle In A Fasted State
For enhanced weight loss, really thinking about your diet is the way to go.
One thing to experiment with is cycling while in a fasted state.
If you eat and then cycle afterward, your body is burning the carbohydrates in the food that you have eaten.
However, if you fast for a period – even 12 hours before cycling, then your session will burn through the carbohydrates, and start to burn body fat.
Fasting like this sounds tricky, but it’s not that hard if you’re able to cycle in the morning. Simply don’t eat any breakfast, and you’ll likely be cycling 12-16 hours after the last time you ate.
Burning carbohydrates is easier, and our bodies naturally do that first if we have any in our system. You need to be carbohydrate free for them to start burning fats directly.
8. How Many Calories To Expect To Burn
This is the big one for many people – how many calories can you expect to burn during a spin session.
For a 45 minute indoor cycle session, expect to burn somewhere between 300 and 600 calories. The exact number will take into account many factors such as:
- Your age
- Your level of fitness
- The level of intensity of the session
- The amount of high resistance and interval sprints that you integrate into your session
9. Do Indoor Cycling Alongside A Healthy Diet
To really show benefits, indoor cycling needs to be done alongside a healthy diet. It is your diet that really does determine the amount of belly fat you’ll lose.
Particularly if your goal is the loss of belly fat, you want to focus on the following in your diet:
- Eat plenty of fiber such as sprouts and berries
- Eat plenty of protein such as fish and chicken
- Avoid sugary foods
- Avoid processed food
- Avoid alcohol
Here are the food types to eat and those to avoid to lose belly fat:
|Foods To Eat For Belly Fat Loss
|Foods to Avoid For Belly Fat Loss
|Sugary candies and chocolate
|Fatty fish like sardines or salmon
10. Balance Carbs For When You Need Them
Carbs are an interesting food when it comes to cardio and cycling.
You do need carbs to cycle at your best. However, eating fewer carbs often relates to losing weight as your body will start burning fat instead of carbs.
A simple view is to reduce the number of carbs in your diet, particularly on rest days. On days when you are cycling, carbs will naturally be burnt up anyway.
If you want to go super-in-depth for optimum results, I found this brilliant video from the Road Cycling Academy. They speak with a nutritionist, that sets out a plan for balancing carbs and cycling for optimal performance and weight loss:
11. Keep A Calorific Deficit Over The Week
One thing that regular indoor cycling really helps with is keeping a calorific deficit over the week. This really is the most important thing for weight loss and shifting belly fat.
Your indoor cycling sessions will be burning somewhere between 300 and 600 calories.
In general, to lose weight you want to be in a calorific deficit of your maintenance calory count.
Men will on average require 2500 calories per day to maintain their weight. For women, this will be around 200 calories.
For example, if a woman eats 2000 calories per day, but does a spinning session where she burns 500 calories, she will only have taken in 1500 calories that day. She will have a 500-calorie deficit, and so be in the process of losing some body weight.
Just think that indoor cycling really does pack a punch in knocking down your calories for the day, but you still need discipline in what you’re eating.
12. Spin Alongside Resistance Training
If you’re all in on your goal of shedding belly fat, then there are other quick wins you can consider on top of indoor cycling.
A key one is to integrate some resistance training into your schedule.
Resistance training, such as lifting weights, is great for toning your muscles. It also means you will be burning more fat throughout the day, as your body repairs and rebuilds.
Also, indoor cycling can be a wonderful warm-up prior to this.
13. Indoor Cycling Reduces Fatty Deposits In Key Areas
One thing to keep in mind is that no one loses fat in a proportional way across their whole body.
Everyone tends to lose weight in a particular area first, and for many people, this is the core.
Gender comes into play to an extent here. In general, women tend to lose weight first around the hips and buttocks areas. (Source)
Men, on the other hand, tend to lose weight around the trunk and core.
So, for men, any weight lost through indoor cycling could help to shrink that belly fat. For women, just keep in mind that it may not be the first body part to be targeted.
14. Do Crunches Or Leans While Cycling
Cycling works your core to an extent throughout a session. Your core muscles are continually working to keep you balanced and to keep a good posture.
However, you can really add to this by adding movements to your session that work your core. These include:
- Leaning to one side and then the other as you cycle, particularly when you are doing sprints.
- Leaning forward and back, as if you were doing sit-ups, again ideal when you are doing sprints
Many spin classes integrate these kinds of movements into the session. They are a kind of the cherry on the top of the cake when it comes to toning your core.
15. Indoor Cycling Speeds Up Your Metabolism
Regular indoor cycling has the effect of speeding up your metabolism. This means that you will be burning more fat even when you are resting. (Source)
This can be a rich source of inspiration for some people. You’re not just losing weight while you’re exercising, but the effects continue throughout the day.