Biking can be a great way to lose fat, and have fun at the same time!

Biking can be a great way to lose fat, and have fun at the same time!

Biking is one of the most popular outdoor activities. Many people even pursue it indoors, either on tracks or stationary bikes. Popularity aside, what are the benefits of biking? How many calories can you burn biking and is it a good way to lose fat?

Biking has obvious cardio vascular benefits. You need only to look at how competitive cyclists stay on the cutting edge of illegal performance enhancing to realize how much of a cardio workout it provides. Some of the most cardiovascularly fit individuals on the planet are competitive cyclists, weather they are clean or have undergone a bit of doping along the way.

In addition to the cardio benefits, biking helps build your lower body musculature. Most short distance, competitive cyclists have legs like NFL running backs, with quads a’bulging.  There are other benefits to cycling. It is easy to bike for relatively long periods, so you can get in the fat burning heart rate zone and stay there. It is much easier on the knees than running, which, if you’re one of the millions with bad knees, can be a godsend. Be sure to have your seat properly adjusted though, or riding your bike can hurt your knees too.

If you have trouble juggling your fitness goals and spending time with family, biking is a great ways to kill two birds with one stone. It is a great fitness activity the whole family can enjoy together. Kids love it, and as they get older they’ll be able to more than keep up with you. When they’re younger, you may not be able to get in quite the workout you want, because they have trouble going  fast enough, but eventually that’s no longer a problem.

Biking is also relatively inexpensive. However you can spend about as much as you want to on a bike if your heart desires and budget permits. I was in a bike shop a few weeks ago and was shocked to discover a high end, competitive mountain bike is almost $6,000! My brother has been a competitive cyclist for years and I’ve seen his team spend almost that much on his road bikes before, but that’s a heck of a lot of money. You can buy a competitive 250cc motocross bike, complete with a beautiful power plant nestled in it’s aluminum alloy frame, for not too much more than that.

If you’re trying to burn fat, what is the best way to do it on a bike? Similarly to lifting weights, intensity is the key. Although you can burn more fat when you bike by staying in the 60% – 70% target heart rate “fat burning zone”, you’ll actually burn more fat in total by working a bit harder, but for less time? Why? When you work in the fat burning zone your body utilizes more fat for energy while you are doing the activity. However when you up the intensity, you’ll burn less fat while you are exercising, but the increase in metabolism caused by the exercise will continue long after you have stopped exercising for the day.

That means that if you do high intensity interval training on a bike, you will burn more fat, faster, while actually exercising less time than if you simply get on your bike and get in the target fat burning zone. Here’s how you do it.

Fat Burning Biking Routine –  IMPORTANT: Talk to your doctor first to make sure you’re up for this.

10 minute warm up – 50% max heart rate.
Then repeat the following 5 – 7 times
4 minutes – 85% max heart rate
2 minutes – rest
With such a routine your actual exercise time is only between 20 and 28 minutes, yet several scientific studies have demonstrated you’ll burn more fat than an hour of cycling in the fat urning zone.

How many calories will you burn biking? Well, that depends on many factors, but here are some averages.

If you weigh 170lbs and bike at 12 – 14mph for an hour, you’ll burn about 620 calories.

If you weigh 130lbs and bike for 45 minutes at 18 mph, you’ll burn 531 calories.

Those two estimates ignore the long term metabolic effects of biking, and only consider the calories expended while actually on the bike.

So, biking is an excellent activity to enjoy for both fitness and fun, not to mention weight and fat loss. Have a great weekend!