Other than providing endless hours of fun and free transportation, your bike is a great weight loss tool. Bike riding is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart rate going, encouraging your body to burn more calories. What’s more, it is a fun, relatively easy to learn and low impact exercise that is easy on your joints, which makes it accessible for just about anyone irrespective of their age or fitness level.
However, it is important to note that losing weight by cycling requires a lot of patience, self-control and making the most of your time. For you to effectively lose weight with your favorite bicycle, you need to structure your riding differently than what you usually do when taking a casual ride. It requires you to incorporate a few simple techniques both on and off the bike.
Here are 15 tips to help you lose weight while riding your bike.
1. Choose the right gear
Get the right bike: If you are starting out as a heavy person, make sure your bike is robust and sturdy enough to support your weight comfortably. The same applies to the size.
You need to make sure your bike fits you well so that you are not arching your back too much or straining to reach the peddles.
Pick the right attire: According to research, wearing tight-fitting clothes made of materials such as lycra as opposed to baggie clothes makes it easier for you to track your weight loss. Also, choose attire that makes you more visible to drivers.
Pick the right accessories: Make sure you always have your helmet on whenever you go out cycling. Bring along a repair kit and a small hand pump in case of a flat tire to inflate them.
2. Eat a healthy diet regularly
A healthy diet is crucial to weight loss. While spinning those wheels will give your body a complete workout, a healthy diet will kick your weight loss up a notch.
Eating three meals a day goes a long way in ensuring you do not overeat after missing a big meal.
We highly recommend planning out your weekly meals to ensure you eat a healthy diet.
Shopping once a week also takes away the temptation of indulging in unhealthy meals or snacks while picking up your food at the store daily. It also gives you a lot of free time to ride your bike.
3. Ride, ride, ride!
The secret to losing a significant amount of weight through cycling is by riding your bike whenever you can.
The average cyclist burns at least 40 calories per mile. Hence, even if you are cycling just 15 miles an hour, you can burn up to 6,000 calories by simply committing 10 hours to riding every week.
So, take advantage of all your trips- short or long, and idle time to spin those wheels.
Ride your bike on short trips to the farmers’ market or the grocery stores and take it on long journeys to see a friend or even go to work.
4. Try interval training
To push your calorie burn, add in some interval to your regular cycling routine.
Research shows that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is one of the fastest ways to boost your overall fitness, stimulate the human growth hormone and rev up your metabolism, which all help in burning fat.
A bike provides one of the best ways to push up those max intervals no matter how big you are.
Near the end of your long ride, add in 6 sets of all-out effort that last two minutes each with 30 seconds rest time between each set.
Start slow and then pick up as you go with your daily training. And as you improve, you can increase the length of each set and the intensity of your cycling.
When doing the all-out effort, it is crucial that you stay aware of the traffic at all times.
The benefits of these sets are that they allow you to burn more calories within a short amount of time and will keep your metabolism up for the next 12 hours.
This means that you will burn more calories over the course of the day and you will be sure to see the effects of your training sooner than you had anticipated.
5. Stay hydrated
Whenever you are going out for a ride, always make sure to carry some drinking water along, as you need to stay hydrated throughout the workout.
This is especially important during summer where riding a bike can be challenging and even dangerous if you do not drink enough water.
If you ever feel that your body feels heavier and fuller than normal, this could be an indication of dehydration. Make sure to drink the required amount of water on a daily basis.
6. Mix it up
You can easily get stuck in a boring routine if you only cycle on the road, ride on the same route and at the same intensity. This may lead to little or no change when you are trying to burn some calories.
A good alternative is to mix up things by trying various disciplines every so often.
Mountain biking is also ideal for those on a tight schedule. An hour on these tracks will burn at least 100 calories more compared to a steady-state cycle because of the intensified intensity.
7. Join a group
If you are always riding alone, motivation might become an issue.
This is quite common when you are trying to shed some weight since getting out of bed and out the door is just as hard.
Whether it is a group ride organized by the locals or with a few training partners, joining other cyclists gives you more reasons to hit the tracks.
Riding with other cyclists also encourages you to push your limits and go farther than you normally would on your own to keep up with the rest.
8. Sprint hard
Challenge yourself to go harder than you usually do at least twice or thrice a week.
A high-intensity session helps to improve your cardiovascular fitness, which in turn, makes your body a more effective calorie-burning machine.
During the sprint, give the ride all you have got.
Although it may not seem like much of an exercise, you will be working your legs muscles and heart, which will help boost your metabolism. This way, you will easily shed off those extra pounds.
If you are wondering what muscles cycling works, a bike ride works your hamstrings and quadriceps in your upper leg, the soleus, and gastrocnemius in your calf.
These are all the muscles that generate the pedaling action that aids in weight loss and good all-around health.
9. Monitor your progress
One thing that is sure to motivate you to ride more is monitoring your progress. It is one of the most effective ways of challenging yourself by competing with none other than you.
Other than tracking your rides, you also need to monitor your weight loss progress. This can be done with a regular scale.
So, make sure to invest in a good body composition scale that reads your body composition, weight, as well as your heart rate.
You will notice that your heart rate decreases as you get fitter and it can be fun and exciting to record these changes.
10. Incorporate strength training
Do not go out and cycle for 3 hours non-stop on the first day. This will only leave you too sore and tired to cycle again for a week.
Preferably, start building up slowly to minimize the pain.
Also, incorporate some strength training once or twice a week when you are not riding to build a strong core. With a robust core, you can ride longer and faster.
Strength training also helps prevent common overuse injuries, and the burning of calories whenever you get on your bike.
11. Stay consistent
Truth be told, riding your bike once a week will not get you to your ideal weight goal.
When looking to burn calories, it is all about the buildup. Days need to turn into weeks before you start noticing a difference.
If you have been having one slow ride of 4 to 5 hours, once a week, consider riding four days a week for an hour to burn more calories and get your fit on.
Remember, the more you cycle, the more calories you will burn and the faster you will reach your ideal weight goal.
So, try and be consistent in your training and try to mix it up frequently.
12. Set a realistic goal and stick to it
One way to ensure you stick to your training program is by setting personal cycling goals.
We highly recommend choosing a distance and fitness related target as opposed to making your goal weight-loss specific.
One of the best ways to set a goal is by picking a cycling event that is currently out of your ability and signing up and pay for it.
Make sure it is far enough to allow you enough time to practice.
Once you have signed up and paid for an event, you will not have much of a choice but to get down and train.
Ensure you tell your family and friends that you have signed up for the race so that they can help keep you motivated.
This will also motivate you to show up on the race since the date will not be able to just slip by unnoticed if you decide you no longer fancy it.
13. Make recovery time a mandatory part of your routine
We highly recommend riding hard on one day and then going on a more leisurely pace or some cross training on the next day.
This gives your muscles and sore body enough time to recover. Also, make sure to give yourself short breaks between cycling sessions and plan entire day offs too.
Sleep is also another critical factor in recovery time.
Restorative sleep is essential in helping your body heal, repair and build muscle after a day of hard cycling. It is also key to weight loss.
Various studies show that people who get 6 to 8 hours of restorative sleep are able to lose weight more easily and keep it off than those who do not.
They also record lower stress levels. Research also indicates that sleep deprivation leads to false hunger and unnecessary cravings.
14. Commute to work
One of the most brilliant things about cycling is that it is also a form of transport. If you can, switch your commute to work from four wheels to two wheels.
Commuting to work is highly recommended for those on a busy schedule during the week since you will be getting a regular amount of exercise at a time that you would have otherwise spent traveling.
Other than losing weight, cycling to work will also help improve your creativity, concentration, and reduce your stress levels.
Hence, you are more likely to be more productive when you get to work.
15. Always take the long route
The longer you cycle, the faster you will burn fat.
Start by taking one long, slow ride of approximately 6 hours once a week and short ones for the rest of the days. This will help increase your endurance, meaning that future extended cycles will get easier and hopefully even longer.
To get the motivation for a super long trip, map out a route that lets you take in the beautiful scenery and offers some reward when you get to your destination.
Biking is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, reduce stress and enjoy the great outdoors.
While it is understandable that you want to cut down some pounds in the shortest time possible, losing weight, even with cycling is not an overnight event.
It is crucial that you are patient with yourself.
Above all, have fun while at it!