Most ladies hop on a bike to achieve sexy legs and a toned bottom. But bike riding -- unbeknownst to most -- can actually curb the muffin top, too. Proper posture, a cardio boost and isolated exercises help tone your lower abs while you pedal furiously away. So don't waste your time with crunches that build muscle on top of fat. Instead, get the tummy-toning bike facts and hit the road, single-track or gym to whittle away your waist.
Maintain Correct Posture
The first step in strengthening those dreaded lower abs involves proper bike posture. Hunching over the handlebars in an attempt to gain power will cause post-ride lower back pain. So instead of humpback riding, stick your butt out over the saddle and tuck your lower abs in and up. This corrected posture leaves you with a flat back, straighter arms and a more upright positioning on your bike. If your back is arched, pull your butt back in. An arched back is equally as detrimental as a hunched one.
Once you've warmed up your legs, rise out of the saddle for climbs. Standing climbs, whether you're on the trail or the road or in the gym, automatically put your body in proper alignment. Tuck in your abs to maintain stable positioning over the pedals; a swayed back leaves you unbalanced and unable to sustain momentum. For outdoor riders heading up a hill, stand up, suck in your core and climb away. Indoor cyclists need to simulate the effect of a raised front wheel by utilizing the "hovering" maneuver -- slightly hinging at the hips.
Pedaling aimlessly away involves lower body domination. Bring a little yogic focus into your exercise to achieve a balanced effort between your upper and lower body. Use controlled movements, such as slight torso swaying, and develop a lower body rhythm. This technique works great indoors where you rely on rhythm. For added oomph, bring your hands to the center of your handlebars and do a few pushups. You can execute pushups from a standing or seated position. Either way, make sure to tuck and hold your lower abs for a solid core foundation.
If you're a mountain biker or a die-hard roadie, switchback riding tones the lower abs like nothing else. Executing turns on switchbacks involves extending one arm while leaving the other arm bent. Your body, core and even your obliques twist to the extended-arm side. Then, suck in your lower abs to bring the rear wheel around. Now reverse the process on the other side. For all you mountain biking mamas, rise out of the saddle on the descent while maintaining an engaged core.
Christina Shepherd McGuire writes articles about adventure sports, fashion, mothering and natural living. Since 2003, her work has appeared in "Action Outdoor and Bike Magazine," "Teton Family Magazine," "The Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine" and several online publications. McGuire holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.