Because it’s low-impact and burns tons of a calories at a moderate workout intensity, cycling has long been considered a top activity for anyone looking to lose weight. But for this to happen effectively, you want to have a strategy — and you’ll need to be aware of the basics before you get started with a dedicated routine.
Follow these beginner tips for losing weight to stay safe, enjoy your workouts and start shedding pounds on the bike.
As with anything, if you aren’t having fun you’re less likely to stick with cycling over the long run. Since losing weight is about consistency, it’s important to make sure you enjoy your rides as much as possible. Pick scenic routes or trails that allow you to relieve stress and enjoy your ride. Riding with friends or family members, joining a like-minded cycling club or trying indoor rides on a virtual cycling program are all options that can help you have fun on the bike and make your workout routine seem less like a chore. After all, the more you ride the more calories you’ll burn.
Since you’ll be burning more calories when you ride, skipping a meal to lose more weight will likely make your hunger pains difficult to ignore. For this reason, if you normally eat three meals a day it’s best to stick to this routine to avoid the urge to snack and overindulge. The key is to eat fewer total calories than you normally consume.
A few easy ways to do this is to cut back on high-sugar foods and drinks, serve smaller portions (try fitting your meal on a small plate instead of a big one) and eat lean proteins like grilled chicken and fish for meals. Staying hydrated also helps curb hunger pangs and can factor into how long and hard you are able to ride.
If you plan to make cycling part of your daily lifestyle, having the right equipment can make you more comfortable on the bike and encourage you to increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Below are a few basics to consider:
- The right bike: While you can ride a beach cruiser and still lose weight, it won’t be comfortable for extended periods of time. Choose a bike according to the distance and terrain of the majority of your workouts. Entry-level road bikes, hybrids, e-bikes and mountain bikes are solid choices for beginners.
- Cycling shorts: Bike seats can be uncomfortable, especially once you work up to riding for longer than half an hour. To improve your comfort, a dedicated pair of cycling shorts with a chamois insert can make a huge difference.
- A helmet: This one goes without saying — if you’re going to ride even a block, use a helmet to protect your head.
- Cycling shoes: Clipless shoes and pedals help you improve the efficiency of your pedal stroke, allowing you to ride longer and at a higher speed more comfortably. It can also help to avoid injuries.
A Training Partner Helps
While you can certainly put in miles alone, having a training partner or two can help on those days when you’re feeling less motivated to get on the bike. In addition to holding you accountable on early morning rides and providing encouragement when you need it, an experienced training partner can also help you learn about the sport and give you tips and tricks to make your rides more enjoyable. Drafting, cornering, how to shift and learning how to ride in-close-proximity to others are all ways a dedicated training partner can help.
If don’t know anyone else who likes to ride, look into joining a local cycling club or inquire at your local bike shop for cycling groups that match your goals on the bike.
Whether you’re riding a few times a week or plan to lose weight by commuting to work daily by bike, you’ll need to learn basic bike maintenance to keep from getting stranded out on the road. While some repairs might be outside your skill level if you’re a beginner, here are a few things you should learn how to do:
As you become more experienced, think about taking basic bike maintenance classes at your local bike shop to learn how to tune your bike and complete other repairs that are easy to do at home.
Even for experienced cyclists, it can be easy to fall into the trap of heading out for a ride without any sort of workout plan. While any ride is better than no ride, mixing up the intensity of your workout is a key to any good exercise plan that’s primary focus is losing weight.
Two times per week, plan on incorporating short interval training sessions to increase your metabolism, burn more fat and boost your overall fitness. The best part is: Interval sessions don’t take much time to complete and can be done on the indoor trainer or out on the road.