cycling for weight loss

How can cycling help you lose weight?

When you want to lose weight the right way it can be hard to know which type of exercise to turn to. A quick look at elite athletes will show you that it’s possible to get into incredible shape by cycling while also getting to go out there and explore the world.

All you have to do then is figure out how to do it with a little background knowledge that will point you in the right direction.

To make sure you know how to get things moving, we’re going to take you through the basics in just a couple of minutes. 


Why cycling helps with the weight loss?

The only way to lose weight is to use up more calories than you consume. When you simplify things like that you start to see that a ride that takes several hours will comfortably start the weight loss process, provided your diet is on point.

By gradually building up your mileage and the intensity of the terrain you tackle, you can burn more than a thousand calories on an afternoon ride every weekend.


How do you start cycling for weight loss?

Doing too much too soon is the most common mistake people make with cycling, and it’s easy to see why. You want to make sure you can handle the load day after day, not just on the day you try it for the first time.

Because cycling is not load bearing, your joints are under much less stress than if you were running or lifting heavy weights, but you still need to take care of them.

Your knees and back can both get injured from chronic overuse if you’re not careful. If you aren’t used to cycling, your butt can also be sore after a rather short ride!

Although, this will occur less frequently the more often you ride. If in doubt, start with a gentle cycle on flat terrain for 30 minutes a day, each day. 


How do you get ready for cycling?

Fueling your body is the key here, even though you ultimately want to burn more calories than you take in. If you want to sustain yourself and allow yourself to cycle longer, slow release carbs are the key here.

Porridge, oats or a wholemeal jam sandwich that combines fibre with a bit of natural sugar will all be ideal. Give it an hour so you don’t feel bloated and then get in the saddle. With a little practice you’ll have this kind of routine down to a fine art.


Track your cycling mileage

This really depends on what you’re like as a person. If you know that you’re likely to obsess and over do things, don’t track mileage for the time being.

If on the other hand you want to know out of nothing more than curiosity, apps like Strava are a great way to chart your progress.

Progress in your base fitness will be gradual, so make sure to stick to the rule of thumb that says you should only increase your weekly total mileage by 10%. This will help manage your recovery and protect you against fatigue. 


How often should you go cycling for optimal weight loss?

You can go cycling every day if you want to, provided you mix in hard rides with more gentle recovery rides. Getting the balance right is all about listening to your body and figuring out when you need to step back with a rest day or a gentle spin.

By measuring your resting heart rate before you get out of bed in the morning you can gauge your energy levels. If it’s up by 6% on your typical baseline, you’re getting run down and are in need of a break. 


Avoid injuries when cycling for weight loss

Aside from crashes, the most common injuries will be of a chronic nature, as opposed to the more acute injuries you can get with impact sports. The act of turning the pedals actually shortens the hamstrings which is good for your power output, but bad news for your back and overall flexibility.

By adopting a 10-minute stretching routine that focuses on the chain of flexibility from the calves all the way up to the upper back you can help prevent injuries by maintaining range of motion. Getting into this habit early is the key if you want to be able to cycle for years and years as you gradually increase your mileage and speed. 


Our conclusion

Now you have a solid foundation for the basics of cycling for weight loss it’s over to you to get started. Choose a circular route you know well in your local area, as opposed to a long point-to-point route into the middle of nowhere. This will allow you to get home easily if you find that you need a rest or you suffer a mechanical problem.

As you get fitter and more confident on the road, you can gradually increase the distance and become more adventurous.

This is an activity we recommend in our Bootcamp in Barcelona. Here you can read more about our bootcamp offer and schedule.