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Group of people taking an indoor cycling class together.

How to Lose Weight Cycling: 7 Helpful Tips

Biking is a fun and effective way to work out. But if you want to lose weight while cycling, you’ll need to implement a few specific tips. By structuring your biking workouts properly, you’re more likely to see results and reach your goal!

Is cycling a good way to lose weight?

Older couple on indoor bikes smiling at each other.

Yes, cycling is a great way to lose weight, and there are plenty of good reasons why. 

  • It’s a fantastic low-impact aerobic exercise that boosts your heart rate without putting as much pressure on your joints as running does. 
  • Riding at a moderate to fast pace torches tons of calories to help lose weight.
  • Cycling is a social sport. You can make friends, ride with a group, and lose weight simultaneously.
  • Biking is convenient and flexible for any lifestyle. You can do it indoors or outdoors, and it’s easy to fit a bike ride into your day.
  • It’s fun! 

How to lose weight by cycling

If your goal is to lose weight, cycling is an excellent way to do it. Of course, before starting any new weight loss plan or workout plan, you should run it by your doctor first. Once you’re ready to start, the following tips can help you shed pounds while biking.

Infographic of the 7 ways to loose weight by cycling.

1. Set a healthy cycling weight loss goal.

First, you’ll need to set a realistic cycling weight loss goal. Generally, health experts recommend aiming to lose one to two pounds per week. To do so, you’ll need to burn about 500 to 1,000 more calories than you consume daily.1 Regular physical activity and a healthy diet will help you gradually progress toward your goal.

2. Pick up the pace.

Riding your bike leisurely for fun is very different from cycling to lose weight. You’ll have to pick up the pace if your goal is to cycle to lose weight. Riding faster and harder will push your body and burn more calories. 

Riding at a moderately challenging pace will help you burn more fat. Ideally, you should ride at a pace that’s about 68 to 79% of your maximum heart rate. However, overtraining can do more harm than good, so make sure you don’t overdo it. 

To estimate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.2 If you don’t have a heart rate monitor or your indoor bike doesn’t tell you your heart rate, aim for a pace that makes you feel out of breath but make sure you’re still able to hold a conversation.

2. Include a few weekly HIIT sessions.

HIIT cycling workouts can help improve your cardiovascular health to help your body burn more calories while trying to cycle for weight loss. You can swap out one of your regular rides for a HIIT session or tack on a HIIT ride to the end of a moderate one.

For HIIT cycling workouts, you’ll need to bike at a pace that’s 70 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. The structure of these sessions should be short bursts of cycling at an intense pace with alternating intervals of low-intensity riding. Repeat the pattern for 20 to 30 minutes.

These rides should be challenging, and you shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation while you’re cycling. Fortunately, you don’t have to keep up that pace for the entire ride for it to be effective!

3. Cross-train.

Cycling is excellent for weight loss, but if you combine cycling with other exercise types, you can lose weight faster. On the days you don’t bike, go for a run or do a strength training workout to burn additional calories.

4. Track your progress.

Monitoring your progress will help you stay motivated as you work toward your weight loss goal. Recording the following metrics may help you gauge your progress and identify areas of improvement:

  • Weight: Weigh yourself once a day or once a week at the same time of day. First thing in the morning, before breakfast, is a popular time.
  • Body fat percentage: Skinfold calipers are the least expensive way to measure body fat. However, you can also use a body fat scale or smart scale to determine your body fat percentage.
  • Body measurements: Measuring parts of your body (in inches) is another good way to track your progress. You’ll want to measure at least your waist, arms, legs, and hips to get a good idea of how you’re progressing.

You can also keep a training diary to record your cycling for weight loss workouts and track all the miles you cycle. 

5. Keep things fun.

A cycling workout routine for weight loss is much more sustainable if you enjoy it. There are plenty of ways to make cycling more fun, including riding with a group or exploring new parks and trails outdoors. If you struggle to stay motivated, joining a cycling group can also be fun.

Transitioning to indoor cycling can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re used to biking outdoors. If you decide to ride indoors, you can listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks while you cycle to keep things interesting. You may also want to try using a virtual training app like Vingo to bike through real-world virtual locations around the globe!

6. Watch your diet.

No matter how much you exercise, if you’re fueling your body with junk, it will be challenging to meet your cycling weight loss goal. Instead, focus on eating lean protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and limit all processed and sugary foods. Many cyclists also prefer to eat small meals, often throughout the day, to boost their metabolism. 

The worst thing you can do is reduce your caloric intake too much. Try to resist the temptation to undereat because your body needs all the energy it can get to fuel your rides! 

7. Be consistent.

Remember that cycling to lose weight is a gradual process. It won’t happen overnight, but you can achieve your cycling weight loss goal with consistency and hard work.

Cycling Options: Indoor vs Outdoor

So which is better for weight loss: indoor or outdoor cycling? The answer is that it depends! If you’re looking for a more controlled environment where you can track your progress, indoor cycling may be the way to go. However, if you want to enjoy the scenery while getting some fresh air, outdoor cycling might be more your speed. Ultimately, the best thing to do is try both and see what works better for you.

Indoor Cycling

Woman cycling on bike in living room.

With indoor cycling, you don’t have to worry about the weather—you can cycle no matter what! Additionally, most gyms or fitness centers will have several exercise bikes available, so you don’t need to invest in your own equipment. And if you get bored riding by yourself, many places offer group rides led by an instructor who can help keep you motivated.

Of course, there are some downsides to indoor cycling as well. For one thing, it’s not free, like outdoor cycling is. You’ll need to pay for a gym membership in order to use the exercise bikes or invest in a bike.

Additionally, indoor cycling can sometimes get repetitive and boring since you’re usually just pedaling in place without going anywhere.

To make cycling workouts more exciting, you can also explore Vingo routes around the globe as you rotate through a routine. With more to look at and experience as you ride, your workouts will fly by, and you’ll be done before you know it.

Outdoor Cycling

A woman taking her mountain bike on a bridge over a big body of water.

One of the major benefits of cycling outdoors is that it’s free! You don’t have to pay for a gym membership or buy a fancy exercise bike. All you need is a good-quality bicycle and away you go. Cycling outdoors also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and scenery as you pedal your way to better health.

On the downside, however, outdoor cycling can be weather-dependent. If it’s raining or snowing, you’re probably not going to want to go for a ride.

Additionally, if you live in an urban area, there may not be many good places to cycle without having to deal with traffic.

How long will it take me to lose weight cycling?

Group of people at a gym, with the first 3 on bikes warming up.

How long it takes to lose weight cycling depends on your individual weight loss goal, your consistency with your training, and your diet. If you feel like you’re not making progress or your progress has stalled, try increasing the intensity or duration of your rides. You may also want to incorporate cross-training and HIIT cycling routes if you haven’t already.

How much should I cycle a day to lose weight?

A woman on her indoor bike in her living room.

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, including your weight, fitness level, and the intensity of your cycling workouts.

If you’re just starting out, you might want to aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. But if you’re more experienced, you could increase that to 60 minutes a day, or even 90 minutes a day if you’re really looking to make a difference. The important thing is to set realistic goals and then create a plan that will help you achieve those goals. Learn how to create your own indoor cycling training plan!

Remember, even a small amount of exercise can have big benefits when it comes to weight loss. So don’t be discouraged if you can’t cycle for hours every day. Just find a time that works for you and stick with it!

Key takeaways:

Biking is an excellent way to lose weight. You’ll need to commit to structured training sessions, a healthy diet, and regularly track your progress to achieve your weight loss goals.

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References:

  1. Weight loss: 6 strategies for success. (2021, December 7). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047752?reDate=21062022 
  2. Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate | Physical Activity | CDC. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm 

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