Biking is a fun and effective way to work out. But if you want to lose weight while you do it, 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?
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.
- 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.
Set a healthy weight loss goal.
First, you’ll need to set a realistic 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.
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 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.
Include a few weekly HIIT sessions.
HIIT cycling workouts can help improve your cardiovascular health to help your body burn more calories. 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!
Biking 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.
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 workouts and track all the miles you cycle.
Keep things fun.
A cycling workout routine 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!
Watch your diet.
No matter how much you exercise, if you’re fueling your body with junk, it will be challenging to meet your weight loss goal. Instead, focus on eating lean protein, fresh fruits, 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!
Remember that losing weight is a gradual process. It won’t happen overnight, but you can reach your weight loss goal with consistency and hard work.
How long will it take me to lose weight cycling?
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.
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.
- 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
- 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