Is Cycling for Weight Loss Possible?
The short answer is a resounding yes, especially when you’re just starting out and your body is racing to adapt to the new activity — and burning tons of calories in the process.
“As you become stronger on the bike, you’ll start to burn fewer calories (and fat) during your workouts if you keep pedaling at the same pace for the same distance,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.
“As a result, it will become increasingly important to dial up the intensity and/or time of your workouts — and pursue a wider variety of workouts, such as intervals and tempo rides as you become fitter,” he adds.
Of course, the most important variable for achieving any goal is consistency. That’s true whether you’re cycling indoors or outside.
For example, a study on the health benefits of indoor cycling found that those who regularly ride are more likely to see weight loss and experience improved health markers.
Those researchers added that the results are even more significant with a healthy diet.
Here are a few tips to make cycling for weight loss more effective.
1. Vary Your Routine
When cycling for weight loss, both interval and steady-state cardio training can yield significant results, and according to Thieme, the best training programs combine the two modalities.
You can burn as many calories during an interval workout as you can during a longer steady-state session.
But, Thieme adds, don’t do intervals every day as you may risk over-training. Alternating between “speed work” and steady-state rides each week will help you avoid burnout and stay on the fast track toward your goals.
2. Be Smart About Your Calorie Deficit
Creating a calorie deficit (i.e., burning more calories than you consume each day) through diet and exercise is essential for losing weight.
But the key is to do that while still fueling your body sufficiently to perform at your peak during your workouts, says Garret Seacat, C.S.C.S., and USA Cycling certified coach.
“Especially if you’re doing longer rides, you need enough fuel, and you’ll use that during the ride,” he says. “Trying to cut way back [on calories, and especially carbs] will sabotage you because you won’t have the fuel to do as much as you want.”
3. Add Cycling to Your Daily Routine
Even if you see some significant results through your cycling workouts, you can ramp up your cycling for weight loss by finding more ways to spend time on your bike.
For example, a study on bike commuting showed that those who maintained the activity over time were more likely to prevent weight gain and facilitate weight loss.
“Getting outdoors can also inspire you to ride for longer, especially if you’re doing new routes and enjoying the scenery,” says Seacat. “Remember that having fun during an activity that’s helping you lose weight will motivate you to keep doing it and keep challenging yourself.”
Looking for a live indoor cycling class? Try BODi on the MYX bike! Learn more about Beachbody On Demand Interactive (BODi) and the hundreds of live and on-demand studio classes designed for every fitness level — cycling workouts, cardio/HIIT, strength training, barre, Pilates, yoga, and more.