When you’re cycling the neighborhood or powering through a spin class, you’re likely putting the pedal to the metal for a hardcore cardio workout that gets your sweat glands working overtime. But there’s a little more to cycling than just awesomely toned legs, thighs and fat burning. Slim, tighten and tone your core muscles, too, with a few moves to engage your stomach while you’re hitting your miles in your cycling routine.
Yes, you can do crunches while cycling. Keoni Hudoba, creative director and renowned fitness trainer of CYC Fitness in New York, suggests engaging the core throughout your cycling workout and doing at least one ab-focused set of drills for five minutes or more. Try giving your obliques time and attention by engaging and contracting your abs. Bend one elbow at a time in toward your body while keeping your hands on the bars. Try this workout for at least one minute, alternating elbows and also increasing your bike’s resistance.
Stand and Deliver
Sitting in your saddle is only an option – not a requirement. Try standing up in your seat a few times throughout your cycling workout and pulling in your abdomen as you position your chest over the handlebars. This technique can work during your traditional biking routine or on a stationary bike to engage your abs. Challenge yourself and intensify your workout by using this technique throughout your entire workout.
Drop and Pop
Dance your abs into perfection with an up-and-down riding movement perfect for stationary cycles. Lift off your saddle, leaning your torso over the handlebars and pulling your belly button into your spine. Lower back down into your seat and then lift again. Try a few reps and focus on maintaining your posture. Add resistance to your bike to power your legs and feel the burn in your lower stomach.
Form and Stretching
Form is essential in any workout and key to a ride that incorporates dynamic techniques to activate the core. “Don’t be afraid to ask your cycling instructor if your form is good,” says Hudoba. “A motivated and engaged leader will always help you out.” Once you’re in the saddle, pull your belly button in toward your spine to engage your core muscles, protect your lower back and strengthen your abs throughout your workout.
Stretching is always ideal before a workout but absolutely essential after. Make sure to allot some time post-ride to relieve the lactic acid buildup from the ride. After an intense bike ride or spin class, your body has just experienced a full body workout, sometimes burning up to 800 plus calories. It will be imperative for you to take time to cool down, stretching your lower back, quadriceps, calves and triceps. Also focus on a few end-of-workout breathing exercises to help normalize the breath and re-invigorate the body.
Sherrell Dorsey is an eco-glamour expert who has been writing about beauty, fashion and health since 2009. Her work has been featured in "Frugivore Magazine," "Black Enterprise Magazine" and various online publications. Dorsey holds a Bachelor of Science in international trade and marketing for the fashion industries from the Fashion Institute of Technology.