QUESTION: Can I lose weight cycling? I’d like to shed some pounds and I already have a bicycle in the garage. — Charles F
Coach Hughes Replies: Yes! Cycling is a great way to lose weight for many reasons.
It doesn’t have to hurt. Running hurts. Riding your bike uses your muscles differently and your joints don’t get stressed.
It’s fun. Riding a bike is a lot more fun than “exercising.”
It’s good for beginners. Whatever your current fitness and weight, cycling is an easy way to start being more active.
Your choice of low to high intensity. You can ride as easily or vigorously as you want. All you do is shift gears.
Calories burned. This depends on how much you weigh and how fast you ride. Riding on level ground with no wind you’ll burn approximately:
* At 11 mph 2.5 calories / pound / hour. If you weigh 150 lbs you’d burn approximately 375 calories per hour. * At 13 mph 3.5 cal. / lb. / hr.* At 15 mph 4.5 cal. / lb. / hr.
You’ll get fitter. Cycling works your heart, your lungs and your legs.
How to do it. The calories lost obviously depends on how long and how fast you ride. For example, it’ll be less fatiguing, with less risk of injury and easier psychologically to ride at a conversational pace 30 minutes a day five days a week than to ride for 1:15 twice a week.
No pain, no gain is for masochists. You can ride a lot longer at a conversational pace and burn more total calories than riding so hard you can only say a few words … and you’ll have more fun! You should always finish a ride feeling like you could have done more, not whipped and you shouldn’t feel sore the next day.
Any bike will do. To get started the bike in your garage or from a thrift store is fine. As you ride more and more you may want to get a better bike. You also don’t need any special clothes – a t-shirt and cutoffs are fine.
Wear a helmet. If you fall you’ll probably just get an owie but if you fall and hit your head the injury could be very serious or even fatal. Every helmet sold meets government safety standards so an inexpensive on online is fine. Don’t just get a helmet for your kid. Set a good example.
Ask the Coach: How Can a Beginning Cyclist Improve?
Ask the Coach: What Should a Beginning Cyclist Eat and Drink?
Ask the Coach: What Should a Beginning Cyclist Eat and Drink, Part 2?
Ask the Coach: How Should a Beginning Cyclist Train?
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.
JACK BOTTS says
The “calories burned” paragraph seems to say that the harder you ride, the more weight you will lose. I believe current thinking is that there is a level of exertion that is optimal for weight loss, and it isn’t to ride as hard as you can. One source estimates that level to be 70% of maximum heart rate.