Belly fat is bad news. While
researchers debate the real health risks of a higher body mass index (BMI) or
carrying a few extra pounds, everyone agrees that wearing too much weight
around your waist is largely detrimental to your health.
Research shows that a waistline
more than 40 inches (102cm) for men and 35 inches (89cm) for women puts you at
risk for heart disease even if you’re not technically overweight and otherwise
in good health.
Belly fat has also been linked to
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and diabetes. Again,
Read more: 7 foods that boost
weight loss and improve your riding
good news is that you already own the best tool for shedding that bad-news
belly fat: your bike.
The key is performing a variety of workouts that build
your fat-burning engine, rev your metabolism and the production of fat-burning
hormones, suppress your appetite, and help you burn more fat and calories all
Yep, your bike can do all that. Here’s how:
1. Go hard
Do interval training once or
twice a week (no need for more; stick to one day if you race or go hard on
weekends). Numerous studies have found that high-intensity training
significantly reduces total abdominal fat, including dangerous visceral (belly)
fat more effectively than lower-intensity exercise.
There are endless ways to
do interval training. One simple example:
- Warm up: 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pick up your effort so you’re working hard (a
nine on a one-to-10 scale; you’re breathing hard, but not gasping) for 30
seconds to one minute.
- Go easy for one minute.
- Repeat a total of five times.
- Cool down: two to three minutes.
Research shows your body also unleashes human growth hormone, which helps you
burn fat and maintain muscle, after just 10 to 30 seconds of high-intensity
High-intensity exercise also appears to help curb your appetite and
trigger hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and fullness better than
lower-intensity exercise, so you’re less likely to overeat.
2. Keep it controlled and
Yes. We just told you to go hard
to burn off unwanted belly fat – but don’t overdo it. Going hard all the time
stresses your body and leaves you chronically inflamed, which can backfire by
contributing to belly-fat storage.
Cap the intensity to a couple times a week
and take the rest of your weekly rides at a controlled, comfortable pace.
“Most recreational cyclists are
doing too much high intensity training and they’re not getting leaner or
faster,” says Iñigo San Millán, P, the director of the Exercise Physiology and
Human Performance Lab at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Many
of your rides should be in Zone 2,” he says.
That’s an intensity where you can
talk the whole time – about a five to six on that one-to-10 scale.
“This is usually the intensity
that elicits the highest fat oxidation for energy purposes,” says San Millán.
These rides are not only good for
burning fat, but also for building your slow-twitch, endurance muscle fibres;
increasing capillary development; improving your ability to use lactate for
energy; and making you a better fat-burner all the way around.
Aim for about 80/20
A number of coaches prescribe what is known as the “80/20 rule”, also called
polarised training, for balancing training intensity. It’s definitely worth a
try for burning off belly fat as well as for getting fitter and faster.
goal is to spend 80% of riding time at low intensity and 20% at moderate to
hard intensity. That way, when it’s time to go hard, you have the freshness and
energy reserves to go hard enough to maximise those interval efforts.
Hitting both intensities actually improves your abilities all around: Your
slow-twitch muscle fibres do the work of recycling the lactate your
high-intensity, fast-twitch fibres produce. So when you spend time building
them, the payoff is being able to work harder at high intensity – which in turn
stimulates more fat burning.
shows this intensity combo also makes you faster. In a 2013 study published in
the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that when
cyclists performed six weeks of 80/20-style training, they more than doubled
their power and performance gains, such as lactate threshold, compared to when
they spent more time in moderate training zones.
This article was originally published on www.bicycling.co.za
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