In this article we’re going to look at 4 effective ways of how you can lose weight cycling. The weight-loss methods that we’re going to consider include outdoor and indoor bikes. This ensures that a wider audience can participate in the methods and begin losing weight.
But before we consider the 4 ways to lose weight cycling, I have outlined some of the many benefits of cycling as a fat-loss exercise. In addition, throughout this article you will find links to useful resources such as training programmes, books and best equipment.
But on with the benefits . . .
It’s safer to lose weight cycling
Second only to swimming, cycling is the ultimate non-impact cardio exercise. It’s this quality that makes cycling an ideal weight-loss method for those who cannot run.
Of course, running is not safe for people who have weak joints or are currently suffering from lower limb injuries. Because it is a high-impact exercise running could exacerbate any pre-existing weaknesses or worsen injured areas.
Moreover, for the elderly or people who are severely overweight, running can be both dangerous and uncomfortable. Cycling offers a safe, comfortable, and comparatively effective weight-loss alternative.
Cycling is an effective way to lose weight
But just because cycling is completely non-impact doesn’t mean that it is any less effective at burning fat than running. Like running, cycling engages all the major muscles of the legs: gluteus maximus and minimus, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius.
And while it’s arguably true that cycling is not quite as physically demanding as running, you can cycle for longer on account of the low-impact nature of the exercise. Every Sunday morning, I enjoy a 2-hour cycle through the countryside. Afterwards, I feel fit and energised and even after a relatively long period in the saddle neither my joints nor muscles ache. The same could not be said if I jogged for the same duration.
Cycling strengthens the heart
Edmund R. Burke, former physiologist for USA Cycling and author of over seven books, identifies cycling as one of the most effective endurance exercises for stimulating slow-twitch muscle fibres.
Regular cycling, Burke says, leads to ‘adaptations of the muscle cells and the cardiovascular system’ which over time strengthens the muscles while enabling them to ‘work at lower intensities with less fatigue,’ (Serious Cycling – Second Edition).
Cycling improves the efficiency of muscle fibres
In addition to stimulating adaptations in the muscles, research has shown that when even trained cyclists are put through a training program their slow-twitch fibres become more efficient in using energy stores. ‘Thus, fewer muscles are needed to maintain a given pace’ and ‘those that are activated do not need to work as hard as before’ (Burke – 2002).
So, not only can you lose weight cycling, but you can also improve the efficiency of your muscle fibres and strengthen your heart.
4 ways to lose weight cycling
Now that we’ve considered a range of benefits (and there are many more), we’re just going to dive right into the 4 ways to lose weight cycling. As I mentioned in the introduction, the ideas below are diverse in scope so that more people can participate.
With that said, hopefully you will find at least one of the 4 ways to lose weight cycling useful.
#1: Lose weight cycling by biking to work
Ditching the car and commuting by bike is an excellent way to increase exercise engagement. This one simple lifestyle change could double even triple your weekly exercise average. All those extra miles translate to extra calories burned which translates to more weight loss.
There are lots of reported incidences where people have transitioned to peddle power and quickly noticed a positive change in their body composition. An overweight friend of mine resolved to bike to work instead of ‘pollute my fat ass to my desk’, as he memorably put it.
In a little over one month, he noticed a decrease in overall body fat and an improvement in fitness. Before he began regularly cycling to work, he told me, walking up a flight of stairs posed a tough physical challenge that left him puffing and panting.
However, as his body adapted to the increase in exercise, he found that he could bound up the stairs without feeling like he was about to pass out.
Cycling is a great stressbuster
As well as improving your physical health and facilitating fat loss, cycling to work can also improve your mental health. As I doubt many would disagree, commuting can be a stress-inducing experience. And many commuters are left feeling frustrated and misanthropic before they even step foot into the office. Not a good way to start the day.
Though commuting by bike presents its own stressors, the most salient being that of sadomasochistic motorists, it can offer a comparatively calmer alternative to travelling by car. Cycling is a much more pleasant mode of transportation for the following reasons:
You can exercise while commuting
You no longer have to endure traffic jams
There are more options to take shortcuts
Surprisingly you are subjected to less pollution when cycling because of the increase in airflow. Few people realise that cars can act as pollution traps. When you’re sitting in a traffic jam the pollution seeps through the vents and effectively pools in the car. For example, a recent study showed that the level of pollution in a London bus can be more than three times as high as outside.
#2: Buy a budget indoor bike and lose weight cycling at home
Granted, it’s not possible for everyone to commute to work by bike (such a shame!). If your commute involves motorways, busy highways or is just a long tortuous drag, then the first way to lose weight cycling probably isn’t feasible.
However, don’t think that this gets you off the hook! There are still plenty of other ways you can lose weight cycling.
One such way is to buy a budget indoor stationary bike. An indoor bike makes for a highly effective way to lose weight cycling because they are so accessible. When you’ve got your bike, and subsequently set it up in the spare room (garage or conservatory), you’ve literally got no excuse not to exercise.
In the morning before work or after a hard day performing pointless bureaucratic box-ticking tasks, you could jump on your stationary bike and beast yourself through a good 30-minute sweat session.
But are budget indoor bikes any good?
In our other article – Biking on a Budget | The 5 Best Indoor Bikes – we review some of the top-rated products on the market. All the bikes featured have received hundreds, even thousands, of positive reviews. And, what’s more, the cheapest of the 5 budget bikes cost less than £120.
As well as being eminently affordable, indoor bikes come with loads of nifty fitness features. For example, pretty much all indoor bikes have fat-loss workouts programmed into the onboard computer. Such programmes remove the fuss and faff of having to design a workout. You can just jump on the bike, select a programme, and away you go!
Furthermore, the heart rate sensors and perceived exertion calculators can accurately record the number of calories burned during a cycle. As well as acting as a motivational stimulus, this information provides you with an insight into the fat-burning effectiveness of your workout.
#3: Lose weight cycling by signing up for a spinning class
Spinning has remained a favourite exercise class among fitness enthusiasts for decades. In addition to providing an environment conducive to hard training, spinning sessions are typically high-octane. From the first to the last minute, spinners attack the peddles as though they’re competing for Olympic gold.
As well as offering an intense workout, which can improve muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness, you can burn some serious calories during a spinning class. This is a consequence of the consistent and sustained high-intensity output.
Related: Check out the best affordable home spinning bikes.
It’s no secret that many people struggle to maintain motivation when working out. Often trainers can become easily distracted, opting for an extra minute rest or scroll through their social media feed instead of completing that next set. And if it isn’t external distractors getting in the way of our workouts, a general lack of drive can lead to an unproductive performance.
Spinning classes can bridge that motivational gap. It’s well known that group exercise classes boost engagement and enthusiasm. This is amplified by the super-motivated instructor imploring spinners to ‘Give it all you got!’
But what if I can’t attend a spinning class?
The one obvious limitation to spinning is that you’ve got to make the effort to get to the gym before you can ‘Give it all you got!’ As barriers to participation go, this can be insurmountable for many. Understandably, after a monotonous day at the office, concluded by that punishing commute, the prospect of driving to the gym can be one motivational step too far.
However, thanks to online platforms, it’s now possible to participate in a spinning class without even leaving the comfort of your own home. Today there are multiple online spinning and cycling classes available from pre-recorded programs to live workouts.
For example, you could invest in a budget spinning bike – such as the exceptionally well-rated JOROTO X2 Exercise Bike – and download the Peloton app.
For a few hundred quid you could have yourself a solid trainer and access to daily spinning classes.
#4: Lose weight cycling with a club
Training with a cycling club is for many pedal pushers a powerful motivational tool. Joining a club, which inevitably leads to the formation of friendships, naturally strengthens our commitment to the sport. It does this because when we fail to attend, we’re not just letting ourselves down, we’re letting our friends down too. Nothing like a good guilt trip to get you out in the saddle.
But if it works!
Besides flicking the guilt switch, cycling with a club can make long dull rides an enjoyable social activity. Conversing and sharing banter with fellow cyclists breaks both the monotony of long rides and takes our mind off burning quads and burgeoning saddle sores.
Furthermore, you can achieve so much more when cycling with a club. By taking it in turns to push at the front, thus sharing the wind-breaking workload, you’ll comfortably double your normal distances while also maintaining a higher average pace.
The last benefit of club cycling is the inevitable education you’ll receive. Truly, among that brightly coloured gaggle of gossiping Lycra is a veritable wealth of training wisdom. Soon after joining a club, you’ll not only notice an increase in the number of weekly miles you cover, but also an improvement in your technique and training knowledge.
To lose weight cycling requires regular engagement of the exercise. Whether it’s long outdoor rides or high intensity spinning on an indoor trainer, the only way to lose weight cycling is to establish a regime and exercise regularly.
To maximise the fat-loss effects of cycling you should aim to participate in a minimum of two 30- to 60-minute sessions per week. Included as part of a diverse training programme, comprised of circuits and resistance training, cycling will certainly support your weight-loss ambition.
But you might be thinking, how do I get two cycle sessions into my weekly routine?
The four ways to lose weight cycling outlined above should offer even the busiest person with ideas of how they can achieve the minimum suggested dosage. Of course, if you throw off the fetters of automation and start cycling to work, you’ll easily hit that target – even exceed it.
Alternatively, if you invest in a budget indoor trainer and download a cycling workout app, you’ll be Tour de France fit in no time. Any one of these methods could supplement that long weekend ride with your local club.
By mixing and matching the 4 ways to lose weight cycling you’ll no doubt notice a radical reduction in overall body fat percentage while also experiencing an increase in cardiovascular fitness. These are just some of the many benefits cycling can confer.
For more on the benefits of cycling, including training programmes, workout ideas and best kit, see our other article: The Health Benefits of Cycling.
(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.