Riding a bike to lose weight: 4 effective strategies

Looking to lose weight? So I imagine that you will be evaluating several alternatives, including healthy eating, perhaps supplementation with protein supplements to achieve satiety and physical activity, the latter without a doubt.

Now, just as in eating it is about choosing the least caloric foods, in exercising it is about looking for specific routines to lose weight effectively . The cycling can be one of them But you only have to go for a walk on Saturday afternoon?

Of course not. You will need an intense work plan on your bike with good strategies that allow you to lose more calories and, with them, as many kilos as possible . What are those strategies? I will reveal them to you in the next few lines.

My strategies to optimize your cycling sessions and lose more weight

To lose more weight, when we talk about physical activity , the key is almost always to increase the intensity. This increase in intensity can be achieved in several ways, either with your road or mountain bike or without leaving home using one of the spinning bikes recommended for indoor cycling.

There are probably many ways to increase the demand in cycling, but today I will focus on offering you four easy to implement and really effective ways.

1. Put some HIIT in your bike sessions

HIIT is the acronym for High Intensity Interval Training or high intensity interval training in Spanish.

As you surely know, when you do your workouts using the HIIT methodology, the intensity increases and this is one of the keys to lose weight in the most effective way possible.

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Okay, one way to burn more calories on your bike is to practice HIIT. Although more research is still needed, there are studies that indicate that this practice has promising results in terms of loss of subcutaneous and abdominal fat.

Other research concluded that HIIT produced 28.5% more fat loss than continuous moderate-intensity exercise. Can you understand why going for a bike ride is not the same as doing a HIIT session?

How to implement it? Alternate intense, relaxed intervals during a twenty-minute session. For example, you can pedal in a standing position, with high resistance, on your spin bike for 45 seconds and then about two minutes of gentle pedaling with low resistance. Then repeat these intervals throughout the session.

2. Increase the power of your regular workouts

HIIT is one way, but there is another. The simple fact of pedaling faster than you usually do and sustaining this practice over time, increasing a little more periodically, can be really effective.

The Harvard Health Publishing has a publication that I have used a lot in my articles to show how different activities, at different intensities, can burn more calories.

Let’s see what it tells us about static cycling.

Have you seen how you can change your calorie burn by adding a little intensity ? The table shows us how a vigorous session can increase the results in relation to a moderate one for three different levels of total body weight.

3. Increase resistance

In the previous section we talked about adding more intensity to a session without increasing its time. Very good. What would happen if instead of increasing the intensity we add more resistance?

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What does this mean? Simple. That you continue pedaling at your usual pace but take a longer ride on your road bike or a longer session on your static gear. This is called resistance training and is based on repetitions.

Is it as effective as increasing intensity? It is not. A study compared aerobic activity with resistance exercise based on the reduction of total body mass and fat mass in particular and showed that aerobic practice is more effective.

The same research indicated that both types of exercise combined failed to increase the fat loss achieved by aerobic exercise.

However, and although today I have to disagree with science, I will tell you that resistance exercise helps to achieve more strength and with it more muscle development. In fact, it has been shown that resistance exercise, both intense and moderate, helps to gain muscle mass.

Perhaps gaining muscle is not synonymous with less weight, but it is synonymous with loss of fat mass, which will definitely make you look leaner or thinner.

4. Combine cycling with other activities

According to the American Council of Excersice (ACE), the combination of two activities can be more effective when it comes to losing weight than doing just one. Let’s see what they literally say in a post about “cross training”:

“ Overweight people can effectively achieve a reduction in body weight and fat stores by combining two or more physical activities in a cross-training regimen. They can, for example, exercise on an elliptical trainer for 20 to 30 minutes and then pedal for another 20 to 30 minutes. 

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Therefore, it seems that instead of pedaling for an hour, combining two types of exercises at the same time can increase weight loss . Try it and you will see how effective it is.


These four strategies are effective ways to lose weight while riding a bicycle . All of them, you may have noticed, have to do with adding something more to your cycling practice, both on the road and at home.

Either you add high intensity intervals, or you add more intensity throughout the session, or you increase the time of the session or you add some other activity to your pedaling.

It seems that in this case “less is more” is meaningless and what is important is “more is more” or rather “more is less”. The more you add, the less weight you will have.

Additional resources and reading

  • Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/10/655
  • Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities
  • Effects of aerobic and / or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544497/
  • High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/
  • Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836564/
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