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  1. #1
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    Need advice about core strength training/fat burning

    So I log a few thousand road miles and a few hundred trail miles every year. I'm a healthy guy, generally one of the most fit and healthiest among my friends and family. My legs are naturally very nice looking (it's a family thing, even the slobs in my tribe have this until they get really out of shape). My core... not so great. The core muscles are there but not huge, but there's a decent layer of fat that masks them. I was a little overweight as a youngster and never really last bit of fat in this section when I became an adult (otherwise I would call myself lean). I probably have 5-10 lbs of fat remaining that I could lose if I really tried, but it's at the stage where my body really wants to hang onto it. Still, I would love it if I could shave some of this off and maybe trade it for some better core muscles (abs, chest, back... abs are the worst looking due to the fat that hides them). Since this is a bike forum and probably loaded with fit people I'm wondering if anyone has advice? I hate Googling on this subject because you get all kinds of stupid links to products and sketchy blogs that suggest extreme diet alterations in addition to some weird exercises. It gets a bit overwhelming trying to sort truth from fiction.

    Help? Maybe there's a way to work on the core while on the bike? Maybe there are good at home exercises? Does diet play a role?

  2. #2
    SLJ 6/8/65-5/2/07 Walter's Avatar
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    Hello Thiocyclist,

    I moved your post here as you are more likely to get what you want. Foo is for off-topic chatter.
    “Life is not one damned thing after another. Life is one damned thing over and over.”
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

  3. #3
    Senior Member pgjackson's Avatar
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    You would be surprised to know that your average recreational cyclist is not very fit. I've seen more fatbodies than fitbodies out there on the road.

    Diet is #1. Ride all you want, but if you are stoping every hour to eat a Snickers and drink a Coke you will get fat...and yes I've seen many people do this. Cycling is not some magical activity that will burn calories like crazy. Calories in, calories out. Eat less food and you will lose weight. It's very simple, but some people get all wraped up in nit-noid details that just confuse the issue. Eat less and you will lose weight. You don't even have to exercise to lose weight. Exercise can accelerate weight loss, but if you don't get your food intake under control, you will NEVER get lean.
    "These are questions for wise men with skinny arms." - Khal Drogo
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  4. #4
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    A gym is the place for core training. If one has a gym membership, there's lots of stuff one can do for overall fitness. And it helps with injury prevention whether running, hiking, or biking. That said, riding my bike long distances has been the very best exercise for my back. Eating less is the best exercise for fancy abs. The easiest way to effect that is smaller portions at every meal, while keeping the protein up and snacking as necessary. If I shoot for 30g carbs, 15g protein for meals and snacks, I lose weight.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    Diet is #1. Ride all you want, but if you are stoping every hour to eat a Snickers and drink a Coke you will get fat...and yes I've seen many people do this. Cycling is not some magical activity that will burn calories like crazy. Calories in, calories out. Eat less food and you will lose weight. It's very simple, but some people get all wraped up in nit-noid details that just confuse the issue. Eat less and you will lose weight. You don't even have to exercise to lose weight. Exercise can accelerate weight loss, but if you don't get your food intake under control, you will NEVER get lean.
    ^ This

    Also, if you want to loose belly fat, there is no workout that will target fat loss in a particular area. Going to the gym and doing resistance training will make you stronger but wont get rid of the fat. All you can do is eat less calories than you burn and your body will decide what is the best place to use up the fat reserves. Eventually you will start seeing the belly get in shape, but normally for men that is one of the last spots that the body goes for using up fat reserves.

    Another thing to realize is that if you are currently overweight it is being maintained by you currently eating too much every day. To get to a lower weight and stay there you need to start eating less than you currently do, every day.

    It may seem impossible at first to eat less, but the way it works is by changing what you eat, eating stuff that will satisfy your hunger without having too much calories and getting used to smaller portions, stop eating when you think that you could still eat a little bit more and 10 minutes later you will feel full.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you want to lose 5-10 lbs ...

    1. Eat fewer calories.

    2. Exercise more.


    For Point 1 ... for the next 3 weeks, keep track of everything you eat, and how many calories all those things contain. You can use Fit Day or Daily Plate or Nutrition Data, and similar to keep track.
    Week 1 ... just keep track and observe where you can cut a few calories.
    Week 2 ... aim to consume less than 1800 calories on days when you don't get much exercise (I'll talk about the exercise days in a moment).
    Week 3 ... if you haven't lost a little bit by the end of 2 weeks, cut the calorie intake back to 1500 calories on days when you don't get much exercise.


    For Point 2 ...

    Cycling (relatively energetically) burns approx. 500 calories per hour. Walking burns about half that. So if you cycle an hour one day and burn approx. 500 calories, you can eat an additional 250 calories on top of your 1800 or 1500 calories. If you go for a 1-hour brisk walk, you can eat an additional 125 calories on top of your 1800 or 1500 calories.

    Keep that up for a couple months, and you'll very likely notice quite a difference.


    And yes, keep doing some core exercises. They aren't going to contribute very much to weight loss, but it is good to have a strong core if you're planning to ride long distances.

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    Mod: Thanks for moving. Not sure why I didn't see this forum before.

    Okay, diet seems to be the key thing here which I like because at least it seems realistic and honest. I was dubious of the notion I could target specific fat stores so I'm glad to see that debunked too. I guess my struggle is I'm at that point where my body has a hard time saying no to the level of calories going in. (That's why I said it wants to keep these 5-10 lbs.) My BMI is between 22 and 23 on a given day. I feel like my body just wants to stay here... or maybe it's my brain not wanting to further adjust my lifestyle.

    So while biking has kept me fit (I know it isn't a cure-all for everybody), I'm just having trouble with that last bit of fat. I guess the harsh reality is it's all diet at this point.

    EDIT: In case some backstory is helpful, I'm 5'10'' and have maintained a weight of about 150 lbs since high school until moving to CO, at which point I drank way to much microbrew and ballooned up to 170 lbs. That took about six months I guess. I suddenly realized how out of hand it was getting and started commuting to work on a bike and riding a lot more recreationally, while counting calories, and I quickly shed 10-15 lbs. Since then getting back to 150 lbs has only been achieved a handful of times and my body just wants to stay where it is (or my brain does, as I alluded to earlier). My belly is always where the fat goes so I'm really shooting for my glory days of 145 lbs, possibly plus some new muscle mass, but even 150 would be a lot better for helping all the old clothes to fit etc. So that's what I'm dealing with.
    Last edited by thiocyclist; 05-29-13 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Backstory

  8. #8
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Core strength is the new cure for everything. According to everybody. So I figure it might be true. And it's better to use lots of whole-body motion in your exercising - do squats instead of using a leg press machine.

    As far as I've grasped, planks are high on the list of ideal core strength exercises. Do front planks (maybe do a few pushups while you are in the position). Do side planks. You will get tired. Fast.

    Everybody is too fat for cycling - every single pound costs time on ascents. Losing weight is impossible - the statistical evidence is overwhelming. Find a diet or lifestyle that works for you - maybe you can be one of few that does manage to lose the weight and keep it off. (I love Carbon Fiber Boy, but his advice to "shoot for 30g carbs, 15g protein for meals and snacks" is a foreign language to me). FWIW, your goal seems reasonable and it's not that far away. But keep in mind that a better goal would be to reduce the amount of fat in your body - adding muscle adds weight and usually is a good thing.
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    Racing and weight training (heavy lifting) help lean me out, but to really lose weight, you gotta count calories.

    Don't make excuses about "my body wants to stay at this weight" and don't think that if you do a long ride you get to eat whatever you want afterwards, you can eat in 5 minutes what it took 4 hours to burn, no lie.
    ...

  10. #10
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    I'm already counting calories. I'm not making excuses. When I eat the amount that will cause me to go from my current weight to the new one, there is an intense hunger that I never experienced before when I was shedding first 10-15 lbs. So yes, my body is really trying to get me to eat for whatever reason. It's not easy to ignore.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    You would be surprised to know that your average recreational cyclist is not very fit. I've seen more fatbodies than fitbodies out there on the road. .
    Yes, there are a lot of larger people on bikes. Many of them, like me, are quite fit in terms of cardio and muscle tone. There is a whole sub-forum for them at C&A. Many, like me, took to biking as a way to get fit, and loose weight. In fact, it seems to me that cycling is a very popular pathway to fitness for many who decide on a healthier lifestyle.

    Once the heart, lungs and muscles are up to the task (physiology), then the physics comes into play. Take a world class road racer and put fifty pounds of dead weight on his bike and he will go from KOM to SOM (Slug on Mountain) real quick.

    Quote Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
    Diet is #1. Ride all you want, but if you are stoping every hour to eat a Snickers and drink a Coke you will get fat...and yes I've seen many people do this. Cycling is not some magical activity that will burn calories like crazy. Calories in, calories out. Eat less food and you will lose weight. It's very simple, but some people get all wraped up in nit-noid details that just confuse the issue. Eat less and you will lose weight. You don't even have to exercise to lose weight. Exercise can accelerate weight loss, but if you don't get your food intake under control, you will NEVER get lean.
    Yes, those nit-noid details can be confusing, but if you are loosing a lot of weight (I am down 70 and have 40 to go) the details can be all the difference between success and failure. I have had setbacks, and they always coincided with inattention to the details.

    One simple rule I have discovered when it comes to eating less; eating higher quality food (i.e. peanut butter on whole wheat bread, instead of a snickers bar – Salmon with braised veggies and wild rice pilaf instead of bacon cheeseburger with fries) make it easier to do so.

    I currently track very closely and eat a base of 1650 Cal (the basic requirement for my ideal weight), plus half of what I burn working out. I loose about 8-10 lb/mo.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    Core strength is the new cure for everything. According to everybody. So I figure it might be true. And it's better to use lots of whole-body motion in your exercising - do squats instead of using a leg press machine.

    As far as I've grasped, planks are high on the list of ideal core strength exercises. Do front planks (maybe do a few pushups while you are in the position). Do side planks. You will get tired. Fast.

    Everybody is too fat for cycling - every single pound costs time on ascents. Losing weight is impossible - the statistical evidence is overwhelming. Find a diet or lifestyle that works for you - maybe you can be one of few that does manage to lose the weight and keep it off. (I love Carbon Fiber Boy, but his advice to "shoot for 30g carbs, 15g protein for meals and snacks" is a foreign language to me). FWIW, your goal seems reasonable and it's not that far away. But keep in mind that a better goal would be to reduce the amount of fat in your body - adding muscle adds weight and usually is a good thing.
    I use food dictionary software on my PC. There are probably a lot of them out there online and apps. I use DietPower, very nice but I think $28. Still, less than a tire. To give you an idea, we buy a very nice w.w. 2 lb. loaf. On the label it says each slice is 26g carbs. Uh-huh. So we're half-a-sandwich people. Mashed potatoes run 36g/c. Protein: for instance a chicken breast is 26g protein, no carbs, 1/2c. cottage cheese 14g protein, 3g carbs. Protein can be more complicated if one is sort of vegetarian, like we are. We simply add 15g whey in water before a meal or snack, if we're in doubt about the protein.

    We usually eat a breakfast sort of like this, lunch similar, mid-afternoon or pre-workout similar, dinner similar, protein snack at bedtime. All the vegetables we want - we don't count fruit, veggies, or beans, though we keep the quantities of beans down a little.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 05-30-13 at 03:03 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    EDIT: In case some backstory is helpful, I'm 5'10'' and have maintained a weight of about 150 lbs since high school until moving to CO, at which point I drank way to much microbrew and ballooned up to 170 lbs. That took about six months I guess. I suddenly realized how out of hand it was getting and started commuting to work on a bike and riding a lot more recreationally, while counting calories, and I quickly shed 10-15 lbs. Since then getting back to 150 lbs has only been achieved a handful of times and my body just wants to stay where it is (or my brain does, as I alluded to earlier). My belly is always where the fat goes so I'm really shooting for my glory days of 145 lbs, possibly plus some new muscle mass, but even 150 would be a lot better for helping all the old clothes to fit etc. So that's what I'm dealing with.
    I hear ya! I went from 150 to 245lbs after I stopped 10-years of racing. My brain & body was used to eating whatever it wanted 7-8x a day. When racing, I used to get woken up at 4am because my stomach was growling from hunger! An that was after polishing off half a large-pizza for mid-night snack! Eating like that when not burning off more calories made for some rapid weight-gain. On a 6-week trip in the Philippines, I gained 20 lbs!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I'm already counting calories. I'm not making excuses. When I eat the amount that will cause me to go from my current weight to the new one, there is an intense hunger that I never experienced before when I was shedding first 10-15 lbs. So yes, my body is really trying to get me to eat for whatever reason. It's not easy to ignore.
    Post some of your data. You may be targeting too large of a calorie-deficiet and trying to lose too much weight too quickly. Also a week's worth of meals diary.

    You want to change your diet, not just reduce calories. You'll want to eat high-volume foods with low calorie-density. Lots of fibre, whole-grains and fresh fruits & vegetables. Cut back on the meats, fats and starches. No sodas, no sugar in coffee, etc. If you weigh all the foods you eat in a day after changing your diet, it will actually be more food than before (in weight and volume). Yet, you'll still be losing weight. In the past 5-years, I've lost 80 lbs now to 165-lbs. Not quite as light as before, but I'm definitely more muscular now.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 06-01-13 at 10:01 AM.

  14. #14
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    I don't know how to post my data (I use MyFitnessPal), but based on my height, weight and activity level it starts me of at 1750 kcal a day and ramps that up if I ride my bike or do other exercises. I believe at a 0 weight gain/weight loss it suggested 2150 kcal a day for me but that was a while ago when I checked. I usually clock in at plus-or-minus 50 kcal of the goal, but of course there are times like a couple of days ago where friends are constantly chucking free beers at me and I know I went over. I was just starting to shed the pounds again too.

    My diet consists of as many legumes as I can get, not a whole lot of meat but probably 1-2 servings a week, yogurt/skim milk, fresh fruit if I have time to go to the store for it. The problem with my diet comes when I don't make the time to shop and am left with all the old junk food that is basically gifted to us some way or other, usually thrift (visiting relatives go buy the chips combo at some restaurant and leave the chips at our place, etc.). Of course I really try to avoid that situation because it's not at all filling. My biggest problem food is probably hummus because I can put way more of it away than I need. I also have a shot of whiskey every few days but I honestly don't think that amounts to much to care about as far as my diet goes.

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    I ride my bike, but to get that last bit off, a higher protein, low fat fiet seems to hit the stubborn areas. Of course, it affects your ruding and will fatigue you a bit more, but if you can handle that, it works, mostly. It needs to be clean carbs, like lean chicken breast, protein drinks, egg white scrabled, lots of leafy green veggies, and drinking lots of water!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I'm already counting calories. I'm not making excuses. When I eat the amount that will cause me to go from my current weight to the new one, there is an intense hunger that I never experienced before when I was shedding first 10-15 lbs. So yes, my body is really trying to get me to eat for whatever reason. It's not easy to ignore.
    First off, as you lose weight, your body will send "preservation" type signals trying to get you to replace the calories to get you back to the level you were eating even though your metabolism hasn't increased to the point that you need those extra calories. That's why ideally if you have time, you should eat several small snacks a day and focus on really one typical size meal. Trouble is, all that prep is a lot of work and most people just can't be bothered.

    If you get into a rhythm of routine exercise that gradually becomes more difficult and eat right, you will lose weight. Strength/cardio training is recommended because it works. Not only do you lose weight, but you strengthen areas of muscle that are traditionally weak on cyclists, such as your arms and even lower back. Lots of people with back pain find it goes away once they start exercising properly and strengthening the muscles in their back.

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I'm already counting calories. I'm not making excuses. When I eat the amount that will cause me to go from my current weight to the new one, there is an intense hunger that I never experienced before when I was shedding first 10-15 lbs. So yes, my body is really trying to get me to eat for whatever reason. It's not easy to ignore.
    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I don't know how to post my data (I use MyFitnessPal), but based on my height, weight and activity level it starts me of at 1750 kcal a day and ramps that up if I ride my bike or do other exercises. I believe at a 0 weight gain/weight loss it suggested 2150 kcal a day for me but that was a while ago when I checked. I usually clock in at plus-or-minus 50 kcal of the goal, but of course there are times like a couple of days ago where friends are constantly chucking free beers at me and I know I went over. I was just starting to shed the pounds again too.

    My diet consists of as many legumes as I can get, not a whole lot of meat but probably 1-2 servings a week, yogurt/skim milk, fresh fruit if I have time to go to the store for it. The problem with my diet comes when I don't make the time to shop and am left with all the old junk food that is basically gifted to us some way or other, usually thrift (visiting relatives go buy the chips combo at some restaurant and leave the chips at our place, etc.). Of course I really try to avoid that situation because it's not at all filling. My biggest problem food is probably hummus because I can put way more of it away than I need. I also have a shot of whiskey every few days but I honestly don't think that amounts to much to care about as far as my diet goes.
    1. Ignore the hunger for 72 hours ... then it gets easier to ignore.

    2. Where are the veggies? Yeah, OK, legumes are veggies, but where are the broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, etc.? Replace the beer and whiskey with water and veggies. Cut down on the hummas and add more plain ordinary veggies.

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    I don't really know any good ways to eat veggies that don't involve covering them in some kind of fat. Not a big fan of raw veggies typcially. Sorry. :-/ If you have advice/links feel free.

  19. #19
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Another way to look at it is that Lance is also 5'10" with a published racing weight of 165 and a real racing weight of probably 158. So maybe you need to put on weight, not lose it. Or just move it around, calorie neutral, by working out and riding while manipulating the macro categories.

  20. #20
    Senior Member mr_pedro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I don't really know any good ways to eat veggies that don't involve covering them in some kind of fat. Not a big fan of raw veggies typcially. Sorry. :-/ If you have advice/links feel free.
    Grilled veggies are delicious, e.g.: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/easy-grilled-vegetables/

    You can use a grill pan on the stove and just add a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

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    Thanks mr_pedro! Forgot about that. I'm not a very creative cook.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
    I don't really know any good ways to eat veggies that don't involve covering them in some kind of fat. Not a big fan of raw veggies typcially. Sorry. :-/ If you have advice/links feel free.
    Steamed or lightly boiled ... throw in a dusting of curry powder or chili powder to spice things up a bit.

  23. #23
    Question Authority JoeMan's Avatar
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    Yep - eat less - exercise more is the answer to weight loss.
    No booze helps me stay leaner.
    I try to keep my weight at 2.1 pounds per inch of height.
    My best overall core exercise is the pull up.
    I really love cycling, however, I have other interests.
    To maintain my overall strength I also do barbell squats, overhead presses and deadlifts.
    Last edited by JoeMan; 06-04-13 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Typos
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  24. #24
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    The low-fat, high carb diet the government has been selling us all the years is not working. Try something different.

  25. #25
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    Hobkirk's advice above on whole-body exercises is good. And you don't need fancy equipment. Bodyweight squats. Push-ups. Burpees - surprisingly strenuous, these. Combine them with calorie control and you'll see progress.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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