If you are trying to lose weight, consider adding time in the saddle to boost your calorie burn. Cycling for weight loss can be very effective when combined with a low calorie diet. Additionally, biking is a very inexpensive activity, presuming you already own a bike. And, biking is fun!

Unlike a gym membership, cycling doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee. (And let’s be honest, sometimes that monthly gym fee could be better described as a “donation” than anything else!) That’s why we think cycling for weight loss is an excellent option!

Benefits of Cycling / Spinning

Low Impact Exercise

Cycling has a ton of benefits. For starters, it is a low impact activity. The impact level of any given exercise routine is often overlooked until the pain sets in. Pain from intense workouts rears its ugly head . Chronic knee, back and joint pain associated with high impact exercise is a real problem for many people.

Because cycling is done from a seated position, it is very low impact and puts less stress on the body compared to running, kickboxing and the like. (And in the event you aren’t a fan of cycling, you may want to consider rollerblading or swimming. But then, why would you be reading this article?)

High Intensity Exercise Burns Big Time Calories

Have you ever wondered why so many people prefer running to walking, despite the knee and foot injuries often sustained by runners? We think it is mainly due to desired calorie burn “payoff.” Simply put, people prefer shorter, more intense workouts over longer, less intense workouts. We get it – everyone is busy these days. It comes down to opportunity cost.

 

Cycling is great for people who want shorter workouts with big calorie burn. By increasing your cycling speed, you can increase your heart rate quickly.  This means you can absolutely crush calorie burn while spinning. Meanwhile, you can also slow things down to lower your heart rate and catch your breath when needed. Cycling is very pliable in that way.

Cycling HIIT Workout

Trainers have long touted the benefits of HIIT workouts.  If you’ve been living under a rock, HIIT is an acronym for high intensity interval training. In a HIIT workout, you will push really hard, go full speed 110% all-out-effort-like-your-life-depends-on-it mentality. You do this for short bursts of time, and you will give yourself short recovery, rest periods in between each interval of high intensity.

Research shows that HIIT workouts are very effective for calorie burn and weight loss. Perhaps most importantly, HIIT workouts are believed to burn a lot of calories during the workout itself. Additionally, HIIT workouts are also believed to cause higher calorie burn for a couple of days after the workout. The continued calorie burn is made possible by oxygen shortage.

Cycling intensity can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Force (how hard you press your feet forward to make the pedals move)
  • Speed
  • Incline
  • Distance

Cycling for Weight Loss – Workout Plan

If weight loss is your focus, do a short warmup (brisk walking for about 5 minutes) followed by a 3o-minute HIIT workout on the bike. Also, when doing a HIIT workout be mindful to “work up” to full power. Here is a specific workout routing regarding cycling for weight loss.

Cycling Exercise – 30 Minute HIIT Workout

  • Brisk walk for 5 minutes
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of medium speed, medium pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of high speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed,  light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of high speed, medium pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of high speed, medium pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of high speed, high pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of high speed, high pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of medium speed, medium pedaling force
  • 2 minute interval of low speed, light pedaling force

As you can see, a 30 minute interval set can be used to achieve maximum calorie burn quite easily. All you need is a bike and some time. Oh, and a towel! (You will be sweating buckets by the end of the workout).

In a nutshell, weight loss occurs when your energy output exceeds your energy input. More calories out + less calories in = loss of weight. Therefore, concentrating on maximal calorie burn is an important consideration for weight loss.

Healthy Eating for Weight Loss

We would be completely remiss to write an article about cycling for weight loss (or any kind of weight loss, for that matter) without adding a comment on the importance of healthy eating. In addition to exercise, practicing healthy eating is important for losing weight.

Some people swear by low carb diets. Conversely, others swear by low fat diets. (And, of course, there is always a crazy vegan in the mix somewhere!) All joking aside, the most important part of any food plan is this: stick to it.  Most any plan will work, as long as you stick it out.

Food selection can be highly personal. This is because our food “attitude” is engrained in us at a young age. For that reason, we do not recommend any one particular food plan as the holy grail food plan for weight loss. Selecting a food plan should be based on what kind of foods you like, what kind of prep work is required and what you think you can commit to eating long term.

Final Thoughts

At this point, you have learned about the benefits of cycling as a low impact activity, the importance of high intensity interval training and the relationship between exercise and healthy eating. We hope this encourages you to give cycling a try for your weight loss endeavors. To make cycling even more fun, be sure to purchase a comfortable bike seat, keep your tires filled and store your bike indoors to prevent destruction and theft. Most of all, have fun!

Happy cycling to all!