A slimmer waistline is probably on everyone’s fitness wish list. Many have turned to stationary bike workouts to address their stubborn belly fat issue. But how effective are they?

Research and experts say that aerobic or cardio exercises, like cycling, are the most effective way to burn fat (Duke Health 2016). And it is because cycling workouts burn calories and help you lose weight, which eventually leads to the reduction of body fat.

More importantly, specific stationary bike workouts, like steady-state and HIIT cycling, can help you burn belly fat more efficiently.

Let’s learn more about the intricacies of belly fat to understand further how cycling workouts can tackle this top problem area.

What is Abdominal or Belly Fat?

Your body houses two kinds of belly fat (Mayo Clinic). One is the type that jiggles called subcutaneous fat.

The other is the belly or visceral fat. You can no longer see or pinch this as it is deep within the body, surrounding your abdominal organs like the liver and intestines.

Body fat is not 100% bad as it has multiple functions, such as insulation, organ protection, hormone regulation, and the transport of vitamins.

However, excessive body fat accumulation due to various reasons, especially belly fat, is a health concern.

A protruding belly also lowers our self-confidence.

And this explains why people are always looking for ways to burn fat effectively.

How does the body burn fat?

Our body uses fat cells to store the excess energy from high-calorie foods (Dr Stephanie Coulter).

These fat cells grow and expand in size to accommodate as much energy as possible.

However, once they reach their capacity limit, they can tap other cells in the body to start storing fat, increasing the total fat cell count.

These two mechanisms, enlarging the fat cells and increasing their number, are the top causes of weight gain and obesity.

It is then essential that we do something to prevent either from happening.

One solution is to use the energy stored in fat cells to fuel activity, like exercise.

When we do this, alongside reducing our food intake, our fat cells will shrink in size, and so will our belly.

How Exercise Reduce Belly Fat

Is there an exercise that can specifically target belly fat?

Spot reduction has long been a circulating theory in the fitness world. It’s a technique where you can perform an exercise to target a specific body part.

Most people find spot reduction appealing, particularly those struggling with weight loss.

After all, focusing all your energy on one problem area sounds like a more effective shortcut than exercising your whole body.

However, there is no evidence yet that says spot reduction works. Researchers tested it on the arms, legs, and abdomen, but they cannot link targeted exercise with fat loss.

Our body and genetic makeup get to decide where to burn fat first.

One study by Wirth and Steinmetz (1998) noted that women have more pronounced subcutaneous fat loss.

On the other hand, men usually lose their visceral or belly fat first. But don’t be discouraged, though.

Even if you cannot reduce fat first on your belly or any problem spot, you will eventually trim it with regular exercise.

How Effective Are Stationary Bike Workouts in Trimming Belly Fat?

As I mentioned, belly fat reduction comes next after weight loss. Stationary bike workouts are one of the best ways to achieve that.

Harvard Health Publishing even noted that 30 minutes of moderate stationary bicycling burns 210 to 294 calories, depending on body weight.

Their findings also showed that shifting to vigorous cycling can burn more calories.

That means indoor cycling, whether moderate or vigorous, can help you achieve a healthier weight as long as you keep at it.

In addition, stationary bikes have adjustable resistance and speed, making it easier to intensify your workout, burn more calories, and reduce belly fat faster.

Which Stationary Bike Workouts are Best for Belly Fat Reduction?

While indoor cycling can help you slim down your waist, losing belly fat takes time. However, you can perform specific biking workouts to burn fat more effectively.

Here are a few suggestions.

Steady State Cycling for Belly Fat Loss

1. Steady-state cycling

This workout means pedalling at the same pace throughout your cycling session.

You can set the resistance at a comfortable level and then pedal at a relaxed speed.

Beginners and older adults are perfect for this type of workout to prepare for more intense cycling.

To start busting your belly fat, you can do a 20-minute steady-state stationary bike workout 3 to 5 days a week.

If you like, break this workout routine into four 5-minute sessions within a day.

When ready, level up your steady-state riding with moderate exercise.

Adjust your speed and resistance, then extend your routine to 30 minutes.

Again, you can break this up into 10-minute separate workouts within the day.

To maximise your calorie burn, you may also put on a heart rate monitor and work out within 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.

Check out this article to learn how to determine your heart rate zone.

2. High-intensity interval cycling

Steady-state cycling can jumpstart your active lifestyle and weight loss plan.

But to reduce your belly fat, a high-intensity interval stationary bike workout is a better option.

A study by Irving et. al. in 2008 showed that exercise intensity has a positive link to body composition changes.

Specifically, the researchers concluded that high-intensity aerobic exercise can significantly reduce abdominal visceral fat better than low-intensity training.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Warm up by pedalling at a comfortable pace and resistance for 5 minutes.
  2. Crank up the resistance level and pedal faster for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This stage will significantly boost your heart rate and make you almost breathless.
  3. Bring the speed and resistance down to recover for 1 to 2 minutes. Let your heart rate and breathing reach a more normal state.
  4. Keep doing the high-intensity-and-recovery cycle up to 10 times, depending on your capacity.
  5. Cap your HIIT workout with a 3 to 5-minute cool-down.

Note that HIIT stationary bike workout is far more challenging and may be too much for your current fitness level.

So, adjust your routine as needed.

Do your HIIT sessions two to three times weekly, then perform steady-state or moderate cycling in between.

Create a belly-busting routine that works best for you, and check out this previous article on interval training for more tips.

3. High-intensity intermittent cycling

High-intensity intermittent training (HIIE) is often used interchangeably with HIIT.

And it’s because both apply a similar fitness concept of alternating short bursts of intense exercise with recovery.

With HIIE, however, the intensity of your exercises increases in small increments throughout the cycling session. Here’s an example:

  1. Warm up by pedalling at a comfortable pace and resistance for 5 minutes.
  2. Boost the resistance level and pedal faster for 30 seconds (at 70% maximum effort).
  3. Bring the speed and resistance down to recover for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Boost the resistance level and pedal faster for 30 seconds (at 80% maximum effort).
  5. Bring the speed and resistance down to recover for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Boost the resistance level and pedal faster for 30 seconds (at 90% maximum effort).
  7. Bring the speed and resistance down to recover for 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Boost the resistance level and pedal faster for 30 seconds (at 100% maximum effort).
  9. Bring the speed and resistance down to recover for 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Cap your HIIE workout with a 3 to 5-minute cool-down.

It’s an even more challenging routine than HIIT, I know.

However, several studies have identified the efficacy of this training style in body fat.

One study published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 concluded that regular HIIE significantly increases aerobic and anaerobic fitness and can play an important role in obesity treatment and prevention.

Previous research published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2008 also linked HIIE with significant total body fat reduction among young women.

An Australian study by Heydari et. al. (2012) also noted the same observations in overweight young males after doing three 20-minute HIIE sessions weekly for 12 weeks.

HIIT Stationary Bike Workout for Belly Fat

Conclusion on Stationary Bikes and Belly Fat

Getting a slimmer waist can take time and a lot of effort.

This is why stationary bike workouts are best for belly fat reduction. They are doable and adjustable to fit your needs and lifestyle. And they work!

With several workout options and training modes, you can progress while sticking to your favourite cardio exercise.

Best of all, you don’t even have to cycle outdoors for a healthier, flatter tummy with a high-quality exercise bike at home.

So, follow a consistent fitness routine and pair it with a balanced diet to flatten that belly.

1. Is standing while cycling better for the abs?

Indoor cycling is good for your health, whether you sit or stand. But pedalling while standing on your stationary bike engages your upper body and core muscles more. It’s an excellent biking variation to target your belly, increase your workout intensity, and improve posture.

2. Can an exercise bike tone my bum?

Regular indoor cycling can enhance your butt. That’s because your gluteal muscles help extend your hips to perform the pedalling motion. And so, with constant biking, you can work your glutes more and, eventually, make them less saggy. Getting your bike settings and cycling form right is also crucial for this fitness goal.

3. What other exercises can I do to tone my belly?

Aside from indoor cycling, you can perform other core exercises, with or without equipment. Glute bridges, planks, leg raises, and Turkish get-ups are a few examples. Ideally, choose core exercises that suit your fitness capacity. Also, do a combination of moves that target the different muscles of the core.