Cycling is a safe and effective method for anybody to improve health and lose weight. Cycling to lose weight can be done both indoors and outdoors, on a traditional bicycle or any type of indoor bike trainer. The best way to lose weight and improve aerobic fitness while cycling is through high-intensity interval training.
Burning Fat and Calories
It is true that lower-intensity exercise--exercising at about 50 percent of your maximum oxygen output--does burn a larger percentage of fat for energy than higher-intensity exercise. High-intensity exercise--exercising at 75 percent maximum oxygen output--utilizes a higher percentage of carbohydrates for energy than fat. However, higher-intensity exercise burns about 50 percent more calories than low-intensity exercise does, when done for the same amount of time, according to "Physiology of Sport and Exercise."
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, alternates short bursts of high-intensity exercise with low- to moderate-intensity recovery bursts. During the high-intensity bursts, your heart rate increases, and so does your calorie burn. The recovery bursts allow your heart rate and breathing to slow down, giving you a chance to prepare for the next high-intensity burst. Since HIIT workouts are extremely tasking, they generally are short in duration -- usually lasting 20 to 30 minutes. However, your body will still continue to burn more fat at a higher rate several hours after your HIIT workout is over.
Your high-intensity intervals should last 30 to 60 seconds. During these bursts, you should not be able to say more than a few words at a time. Your low- to moderate-intensity recovery bouts should last equal or up to double the amount of time as your high-intensity bursts. The recovery periods should be longer for beginners, as you progress, gradually decrease your recovery bursts. During recovery bursts, you should be cycling at a conversational pace.
Sample Cycle Plan
HIIT can be easily performed indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a bicycle. First, warm up for at least 10 minutes at moderate-intensity on your bike. Increase your resistance and sprint as hard as you can for 60 seconds. Decrease your resistance maintain a moderate pace for two minutes. Repeat six times. Finish with a five- to 10-minute easy cool-down cycle.
- "Physiology of Sport and Exercise"; Jack H. Wilmore and David L. Costill; 2004
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Measuring Physical Activity Intensity
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.