One of the main reasons many of us look to buy an exercise bike is to help us stay healthy and lose weight. Before investing too much money on an exercise bike, you need to know whether exercise bikes are an effective way of losing weight and toning your body. In this article, we will look in a bit more detail about the process of losing weight, whether exercise bikes can help, and - spoiler alert - some tips to help maximise weight loss while working out on an exercise bike.
Exercise bikes are a great way to lose weight and tone your body. Not only do you burn calories during exercise bike workouts, but you also tone your legs, bum and strengthen your core. In addition to your body type, your workout intensity has the most significant impact on how many calories you will burn during a workout session on an exercise bike.
How do you lose weight?
Burn more calories than you consume. By entering into a calorie deficit, you are forcing your body to burn fat to provide energy to keep you working out, thinking, and moving throughout the day. It sounds simple however it can be tricky to track the calories you are consuming. To lose weight you have two options: reduce the calories you consume or increase the amount of exercise you do. The amount of calories you burn through exercise is influenced by your biology, current weight and muscle/fat ratio, workout intensity and diet.
Are exercise bikes good for burning calories and weight loss?
Yes, exercise bikes are good for burning calories, resulting in weight loss. As with all exercise, the amount of calories you burn during a particular workout depends on your body, biology, and your workout intensity. As a snapshot, below is a summary of the average calories (kcals) burned by someone that weighs 75kg (12 stone / 165 pounds) during a 30-minute workout on an exercise bike compared to other popular forms of exercise.
As we said above, the number of calories burnt is very personal to your body, metabolism, and your workout intensity. One person’s high intensity could be another person’s moderate intensity. The important thing is to get used to how your body works.
You can tell from the above table that working out on an exercise bike is one of the most effective workouts to burn calories. You may have noticed that there is no separation between recumbent, upright, and spin bikes on the table. The reason is that there has been no evidence to suggest that one exercise bike type is any more effective at burning calories than the other. The single most significant influencer of how many calories you burn is your workout intensity. Different exercise bike types do work different muscles, so it can impact which of your muscles are being toned (more on that below).
Does this mean that exercise bikes are good at helping lose belly fat? Yes, but try not to get demotivated if you do not see instant results on your waistline. The key to losing belly fat on an exercise bike is consistency. Focus on making indoor cycling a part of your daily and weekly schedule, rather than analysing your body shape every day. Unfortunately, no exercise targets a specific area of body fat, and your belly fat is one of the most stubborn (and therefore last to go).
Are exercise bikes good for muscle toning and strength?
Regularly working out on an exercise bike will tone and strengthen your stomach, bum, and legs (thighs and calves). This may not happen overnight, but you will start to notice your body shape changing after just a few weeks.
Muscle toning is a sign that you are burning fat and building up your muscle strength. Toning is an excellent way for you to improve your body confidence. The aim is not to get huge bulging muscles but regain some definition.
Firstly, you will notice the increased strength and toning in your thighs. The type of exercise bike will influence which parts of your body come next. If you have an upright bike you will use more of your upper body muscles for stability, which helps to tone and strengthen your core. Of course, all of this depends on your current body fat percentage and how regularly you can work out on your exercise bike to burn calories.
Tips for losing more weight with an exercise bike
1. Consistency is key
The top tip for losing more weight with an exercise bike is to create a structured and varied workout plan that you stick to. Set reminders on your phone, keep a workout planner on your fridge, anything that will help remind you of the commitment you have made to lose weight by using an exercise bike.
2. Variety is the spice of life
Play around with the intensity of your workouts. A huge benefit of exercise bikes is the wide range of workout types you can enjoy. To maximise your weight loss, you need to work out at an increased intensity. However, high-intensity workouts are more demanding and require you to have more extended rest periods. That is one reason why you should mix up your training between moderate and high-intensity workouts.
3. HIIT your weight loss goals
High-Intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent way to maximise the calories burned during shorter workouts. It can be intense, but short bursts of high-intensity effort (30 seconds) followed by a rest period of gentle spinning is a great way to increase your heart rate and amount of calories burnt. As you get fitter, you can increase time going all out or increase your exercise bike resistance.
4. Enjoy the ride
Make indoor cycling part of your life by falling in love with the exercise bike and the workouts. Do not stress yourself out or push your body too far at the beginning. Owning an exercise bike should bring you joy and provide you with a sanctuary to reconnect with your body and discover your limits. Use fitness training apps and social aspects, such as leader boards and group rides or workouts, to help keep you engaged and motivated.
Other benefits of exercise bike workouts
Just in case the weight loss and muscle toning benefits of exercise bikes are not enough to convince you, indoor cycling has several other advantages that make it so popular.
1. Low impact
It is one of the best low impact forms of exercise that makes it excellent for rehabilitation and working out for longer, without putting too much stress and strain on your joints and back.
2. Cardio fitness
Professional cyclists have some of the highest Vo2 maxes across all elite athletes. Your Vo2 max is basically how much oxygen your body can use or consume at one time. The higher your Vo2, the longer you can sustain moderate to high-intensity workouts. Improving your cardiovascular has also been proven to aid in the prevention of some diseases.
3. Great for your mental health
As with all exercise, indoor cycling releases the feel-good chemical known as endorphins. This is great at making you feel good during and after your workout and it helps with stress relief. Jumping on an exercise bike for a less intense workout can also be seen as a form of meditation that allows you to switch off from work and hectic family life for 30 minutes to an hour to prioritise your body and mind.
In summary, yes, exercise bikes are good for losing weight and toning your body. However, that is not the only benefit you will get from investing in a high-quality exercise bike for your home. During your workouts, you need to focus on being in a calorie deficit, something you can quickly check if you track your diet and use a HR monitor during your indoor cycling sessions. Once you have tried out indoor cycling, you will find that it is more than just something to do to budge some tummy fat. You will find yourself looking forward to your next workout and enjoying the workouts more.
Remember, the best way to lose weight on an exercise bike is to vary your workout intensity and be consistent with your training plan. To get the most out of the benefits that indoor cycling can off your mind and body, you should aim to workout at least 3 times a week - just make sure you give your body plenty of time to rest in between workouts!
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