In the health & fitness market, Americans spend between 40 – 50 billion dollars annually on weight loss yet most of the money and time spent is wasted. One of the highest returns you can get for your time is to use cycling for weight loss.
Not only is cycling a good way to lose weight but you’ll find it easy and fun. To find out more, keep reading this cycling for weight loss beginners guide!
How Does Cycling Help You Lose Weight?
Cycling is an aerobic exercise which is an essential form of exercise you’ll need in order to lose fat on any part of your body.
Aerobic exercise is interchangeable with the common term, “cardio”.
This type of exercise stimulates the heart, involves the delivery of free oxygen to flow to working muscles, which increases breathing rate and helps you to sustain in an activity.
In effect, once the oxygen is working in the muscles, it is used to burn fat and carbohydrates for fuel to keep us moving.
A combination of cycling, rest, and creating a caloric deficit will help you on your weight loss journey.
Let’s start with the reasons why cycling for weight loss is a great idea!
1. Cycling Burns Stomach Fat
It’s more likely that cycling will help you burn fat all over in areas where fat is stored.
But, there is not an exact way to target certain body parts for fat loss.
When cycling properly and engaging your stomach muscle, your stomach will appear to be slimmer over time.
Including core exercises into your exercise routine along with sensible eating, will be more effective toward burning stomach fat.
2. Cycling Can Burn A Lot Of Calories
The calories you burn cycling really depends on a number of factors:
- Your Age
- Time Riding
- Average Heart Rate
I could tell you that an average cyclist burns roughly 400 calories per hour, but it really doesn’t take into account net calories burned versus gross calories burned.
I’m not a math person but a good start is by calculating your BMR or basal metabolic rate (amount of energy we use).
We actually burn calories doing absolutely nothing, resting and certain types of exercises increase our metabolic rate.
Measuring your total energy expenditure will give you an estimation of how many calories you burn.
On some hard rides up with steep inclines inclines I’ve managed to burn 1000 kcal in an hour before. Not a bad return on time investment considering the average person only uses about 2000 kcal a day.
One hour of cycling day could be the difference between you staying at your weight and dropping those last 20lbs you’ve been trying to lose.
3. Cycling Will Help You Build Muscle
Even though cycling is mostly an endurance based sport it will still help you build muscular legs. You’ll see the quickest muscles gains in your legs if you’ve never taken cycling serious before. That’s because the body will be creating a lot of muscle in a short period of time.
Of course if you want your legs to look like a bodybuilder you’ll have to do additional weightlifting in the gym. You will notice that most cyclists aim for a lean physique due to the fact that muscles weigh cyclists down, and can actually hinder their performance.
Here are the specific leg muscles that cycling will help to grow:
- Quadriceps muscles (front of thighs)
- Hamstrings (rear of thigh)
- Calf muscles
- Hip flexors
- Gluteus Maximus (your butt)
- Plantar Flexors of the foot
- Dorsiflexors of the foot
4. Cycling Is A Good Exercise For Back Pain
For most people suffering from back pain, cycling may be an option to consider for weight loss and conditioning.
Benefits of Cycling With Back Pain:
- Biking overall is less impact on your spine and joints.
- Some people feel more comfortable leaning forward on a bike.
- Riding a recumbent bike might be more favorable for low-back pain conditions.
Provided there is also a risk for low back pain:
- Cycling does not in itself build back muscles.
- Poor posture on the bike can strain low-back.
- Position on the bicycle can strain the upper back, depending on how the handlebars are equipped.
- Rough road conditions can increase shock and compression to the spine, creating back pain.
As always, consult with your physician before you begin a new exercise routine.
5. Increases Your Chances Of Losing Weight
The more cycling you do over time, the more cycling will help you lose weight.
In the words of Steven Lewis, “Too much of anything could destroy you. Too much darkness could kill, but too much light could blind.”
This quote goes without saying, be reasonable when cycling for weight loss. Or anything else you are using to lose weight.
If you’re a beginner in this, you don’t have to “go hard or go home” to start as it will take time, consistency, a proper diet while cycling to see weight loss results.
You want cycling to be fun and enjoyable and not feel like “work”.
If you have a good routine and have faith you will lose weight cycling, in time you will reap the benefits.
Consistency is one of the biggest factors when it comes to losing the weight. If you force yourself to go 6 days a week but quit after 2 weeks because it’s not sustainable you’ll just be frustrated. So take your time and ease into your new habit.
6. Save Time By Bike Commuting
Can you think of the many possible ways to bike where you need to go?
Make an effort to ride your bike to take care of the small tasks in your life. Think of the small trips around your area where biking there could be reasonable.
These small trips could be a short distance to the grocery store, a friend’s house, and possibly to work.
Biking to work is a great way to burn extra calories. This could work out to be an efficient way to lose weight because you’ll burn calories riding to work, while you’re at work, and riding back home.
Another benefit that comes with bike commuting to work, is you are taking in more fresh air and can avoid the car traffic commute. (Which we all know is the worst part of the day.)
7. You Can Use Indoor Cycling For Weight Loss
If you have time for a 45-minute cycling class, it can be another form of cycling to help aid in weight loss.
It will not only be incredibly great at burning 400-600 calories but will increase your metabolism and offers toning exercises to strengthen your muscles.
5 Benefits Of Indoor Cycling
You can burn a substantial amount of calories. For example, a 200lb individual will burn around 800 calories give or take, in 60 minutes of high-intensity training.
That same person will burn around 1200 calories in about 60 minutes of indoor cycling.
Depending on how much energy you put into indoor cycling you will burn more or less.
Develops Mental Happiness
I highly associate feeling happier with cycling and I think if you tried it you will too.
The “can-do attitude” often expressed by spin class instructors will help you build confidence on and off the bike and carry on throughout your day.
You will notice among your fellow spin class members a unified enjoyment and excitement because spinning makes you feel good!
The indoor spin class makes a great choice for a regular cardio workout.
When conditioning for the Tour de Cure Silicon Valley ride, I added some spin classes into my routine which helped me endure this long ride.
Even if you don’t ride in tours or races, a spin class with help build your cardiovascular endurance. Get that heart pumping!
Running is a great exercise for some people but the impact it places on your body can be crucial.
I had a friend who was a runner, did triathlons, and cycled. Overtime her running impacted her back so much that she developed a stress fracture in her lower back to the point she had to retire from running.
Spinning puts way less pressure on your joints, knees, and feet and you will have fewer repercussions versus running and other high-impact exercises.
Develops Proper Posture
If your posture is poor and maybe you’re a little slouchy, a good spin class instructor will always help remind riders about keeping the abs tight and back straight.
Correct posture is beneficial in order to work core muscle groups such as abs, hips, and shoulders.
Your body can work as a whole or against you if not implemented proper cycling posture techniques.
Consider the benefits of incorporating cycling into your exercise routine:
- Want to burn calories? — It takes care of that.
- A desire to feel less stressed? — Cycling will spin it out of you.
- Want to spend time with the family? — Cycling is good for all ages, genders and sizes.
- Running Gives You Knee Pain? — Cycling is a low impact sport. Your bones won’t be in agony the next day.
- Want to look good in the summer? — Start cycling when the first sun of the year comes out and you’ll be the envy of all other beach goers.
You want to become a better version of yourself and in doing so, cycling can be one stepping stone to getting there.