Biking is a fantastic way to lose weight for many reasons. It is fun, satisfying, and most of all effective if done right.
When biking to lose weight you work many muscles in the body but particularly the quadriceps and calf, which are larger muscles, as well as the smaller hamstring muscles.
Not only do you target muscle groups, but bicycling strengthens the core – your abdominal and back muscles get a great workout and when you exercise your muscles from biking, you burn fat even after you have stopped exercising. This is called anaerobic fat burning.
There is also aerobic fat burning, which you will do as well when you are biking. You definitely get a cardio workout while cycling — that is the aerobic aspect to the exercise — so combining that with the muscular workout means you get the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic.
You will be happy to know that you burn 500 calories for every one hour spent bicycle riding. But don’t get stuck on calorie counting. Weight loss involves much more than just burning more calories than you eat, bicycle or no.
Beginning your Bicycling Regimen
Now that you know how biking will help you achieve the weight loss benefits you want, you can start to plan your cycling regimen.
You want to make sure that you have quality biking equipment – it will make a big difference. If you have a good bike, that’s great. You may want to take it in to a professional shop to make sure that the handles are at the right height for you, because ergonomics are so important.
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Establish a regular cycling routine, and work your way up. Especially if you haven’t done much activity before, you don’t want to hurt yourself by causing an injury that could have you out of commission for so long that you short circuit your weight loss regimen by being down for the count for an extended length of time.
With cycling especially, you will be working those specific muscles, and if they haven’t been focused on in a regimen before this, you could hurt yourself.
Always warm up before you start. By doing some stretching to warm up your muscles, you lessen the risk of injury and loosen up so that starting the ride isn’t as painful.
Don’t forget about post-workout, either. Many people neglect to warm down, but it’s a good idea to stretch out your back and legs after they have been in one position for the duration of your bike ride. You may also want to get some good sports liniment and rub your muscles down afterwards.
By doing this, you are easing sore muscles, but also the massage helps move toxins out of the muscle tissue. The less toxins your body holds, the easier it will be to lose weight, which is your goal.
Hydration: More Than Just Water
Water is good, but don’t forget the electrolytes. These little things are an important component of your blood. You can actually overdose on plain water because it doesn’t match the viscosity of your bodily fluids such as blood and lymph.
Drinking liquids with electrolytes means you are putting fluid back in your body that matches the viscosity of the blood, and your cells will readily accept and absorb it. This is why runners use salt pills, because salt is electrolytic.
Just be careful about drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners in them, You may be getting electrolytes, but sugar is very bad for weight loss and recent studies have shown that artificial sweeteners actually make it hard for the body to lose fat. Stay away from both of them.
Establish a Good Cycling Diet
This is an article about bicycling for weight loss and not about diet, so there won’t’ be a huge amount of diet information in this article, but it is such an important factor it needs to be mentioned.
One of the reasons for this is that when you are cycling your body needs fuel, kind of like a car. You want to make sure that you are putting the right kind of fuel into your body to make it run properly.
The aforementioned sugar is a big no-no because it throws off your body’s insulin, leptin, and cortisol responses. When you flood your body with sugar, you produce a bunch of insulin to respond to the glucose and process it.
Afterwards, your body can bottom out and you feel hungry and this creates a vicious cycle, no pun intended. The last thing you want to do is lose steam on a long bike ride from a sugar crash. When you cut out sugar, your body’s blood sugar stays more balanced and it is easier to lose weight.
Although people often “carb up” for sporting competitions because carbs provide fast energy, you can run into similar problems by getting a boost but then running out of steam. Starting off your day with protein is a beneficial thing when you are both exercising by cycling and trying to lose weight.
Biking: Steep and Slow or Flat and Fast?
There are a couple of different biking regimens you can do to lose weight. Often, people wonder if they should really try to push it and find a lot of hills to bike over, thereby causing the need to engage lower gears and more effort on the pedals. The problem with this is that you can burn out quickly and tire yourself out so that you can’t keep going.
Another option is to use higher gears and take a nice, long, but flat ride. For people starting out especially, it is good to give yourself the satisfaction of being able to travel greater distances, which means having flat terrain to do so is better.
You get the satisfaction of being able to bike farther, and it is not so hard on the body. Contrary to what some believe, you don’t need to push yourself too hard to lose weight. Slow and steady wins the race, and that adage is certainly true here.
Matt Dupree is on a life long journey to keep his weight and hypoglycemia under control. He is the author of numerous articles and publisher of several websites. He bicycles, fishes, hikes, and plays with his kids in his spare time (which currently isn’t much). His current project is Trailer Hitch Bike Racks a website dedicated to not only reviews of bike racks like the Yakima Double Down but tips and advice on getting more out of your bicycling experience.