There are so many cardio machines you can find in the gym, but which one should you choose to use? The exercise bike is a popular choice, and an efficient way to become fitter, healthier, and to increase your cardiovascular abilities.
However, are exercise bikes good for weight loss? Yes, exercise bikes are a great option if your goal is weight loss. The exercise bike burns calories, assist in creating a caloric deficit which is necessary for weight loss. The average person can burn 260 calories for a moderate 30-minute ride on a stationary exercise bike, which can contribute to your overall weight loss goals.
In this article, I’ll explain why exercise bikes are superior to other forms of activities, exactly how many calories you can expect to burn based on different factors, and how to use the exercise bike for weight loss.
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Why exercise bikes are good for weight loss
First, let’s talk about calories.
Calories are necessary for your body to function.
Everything that your body does is fueled by calories, from running and jumping to blinking and even just breathing. It also controls whether you will gain, lose or maintain the same weight.
Everyone has a certain number of calories they use and burn each day just to function normally depending on factors like your gender and age.
Your maintenance calories are the number of calories you need to ingest that will help you function in everyday life and maintain the same weight, i.e. it will stay the same.
Now, when it comes to weight loss, a caloric deficit is required. This means that you need to be eating fewer calories than what your body needs. So if your maintenance calories is 2000 a day, then a sustainable caloric deficit might mean you can only consume around 1500-1700 calories.
So how does the exercise bike come into this?
Well, one way of creating a caloric deficit is by exercising. Exercising burns calories and so when you work out, you’re contributing to the deficit that you need to lose weight.
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How many calories will I burn on an exercise bike?
The number of calories you can burn on an exercise depends on the intensity in which you’re training, how long you spend riding, as well as individual factors like your weight.
According to Harvard Health Publishing:
A 155-pound person who cycles at a moderate-intensity for 30-minutes can burn 260 calories.
A 125-pound person can burn 211 for the same time and intensity
A 185-pound person can burn 311 for the same time and intensity.
By upping the intensity, you can achieve a higher caloric burn as well but as you can see even at moderate levels, you’re well on your way to creating or contributing to a calorie deficit (coupled with good nutritional choices).
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Pros of exercise bikes
The first is the convenience. Stationary bikes only require a space big enough to fit one in. This could be in your living room, your bedroom or even your garage. This means that you can use them anytime you like, no matter the weather.
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If you want to cycle but don’t want to head out onto the roads, then indoor exercise bikes are the ideal choice. You can cycle in the comfort of your own home without having to deal with hazards such as vehicles, pedestrians and even other cyclists. Plus, weather obstacles won’t be a problem so there’s no need to worry about wet or slick roads or dark vision.
Another reason why exercise bikes are good for weight loss is that it’s a low-impact exercise. This means that they are not hard on the joints or ligaments like other exercises can be. If you’re worried about your joints, particularly the knees, then an exercise bike is ideal. It’s also recommended for those who already have problems and need to protect their joints, while still improving their cardiovascular fitness, which brings us to our next point.
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IMPROVES CARDIO FITNESS
Exercise bikes assist in improving your cardiovascular fitness and endurance levels. A healthier heart also means that it’ll be able to pump blood and deliver oxygen around the body more efficiently so you’ll have better lung capacity. You’ll be able to cycle longer, faster, and stronger.
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STRENGTHENS THE LOWER BODY
It’ll come to no surprise that exercise bikes can do wonders when it comes to strengthening the lower body. It works the legs, particularly the quads and calves, but also the hamstrings and glutes.
PUTS YOU IN A BETTER MOOD
Like most, if not all exercises, exercise bikes are great for putting you in a good mood. It relieves stress, anger, anxiety and you can take it all out on the pedal. Not to mention, cycling releases endorphins that generate that post-training high that we all know and love.
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Types of bikes
Which bike should you choose? While there are many, there are three main types of exercise bikes.
The upright bike is the one that resembles a cycling bike the most. The pedals are situated beneath the body and it has a smaller seat. You can use this bike either sitting down or standing up. As a result, it not only naturally works the legs but also the core.
The smaller seat might be uncomfortable for longer workouts and the upright bike does place more pressure on your hands and wrists though. Something to bear in mind.
The recumbent bike has its pedals in front of you, away from the body which is in a reclined position. It has a large seat and a backrest. You don’t need to hold onto handles for this one, however, there are bars on either side of the seat if you wish to. Compared to the upright bike, there is much less pressure on the upper body, especially the wrists.
The recumbent bike is an ideal beginner-friendly choice or for those who really need a low impact alternative.
The dual-action bike works the upper body the most, thanks to its long handlebars that move back and forth with the pedals. This is the more challenging bike for those who are advanced or looking to up their cycling game.
As always, it is important to ensure that you’re training with proper form. While there are different bikes, the standard form applies that you can then adjust to suit each bike type. Don’t underestimate how big of a difference little adjustments here and there can make, not only for your health and safety but also for your own comfort.
ADJUST YOUR SEAT HEIGHT
Before you even start pedaling, adjust your seat so that you can ride comfortably and without injury. A good starting point is to level the seat height to your hip height if you were standing next to it. Then, give it a go. You want to have the seat at a height which will allow for a slight bend in your leg when your foot is on the pedal, farthest away from your body.
Having a seat that is too low will put pressure on your knees. A seat height that’s too high will result in potential straining of the hips, feet and ankles.
ADJUST SEAT POSITION
Now, you need to look at how forward or backwards the seat should be. At the bottom of the stroke, the pedal should be parallel to the ground. Your knee should be over your front foot and slightly over. However, if it goes past where the shoelaces on your shoes are, then that’s you need to bring the seat back. On the other hand, don’t bring it too far back though because this will cause lower back and knee pain.
ADJUST PEDAL POSITION
Not only does your seat have to be in the correct position but so does your pedal. This will help maintain the proper foot position as well. The ball of your foot should be over the center of the pedal with your heel level to it. Don’t let it drop lower or more commonly, lift it higher so that the toes point downwards.
The height of the handlebars depends on your preferences. Though, it’s good to remember that your handlebars should be positioned so that you don’t need to put too much of your weight on it and that your elbows should have a slight bend in it.
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How to use exercise bikes for weight loss
Here are some ways on how to really optimize using an exercise bike for weight loss.
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The best thing that you can do for yourself is to be consistent. By maintaining a regular routine of using your exercise bike to keep fit and healthy, you can really amp up the results and get to your goal faster. Find what works for you, whether it’s training 3 times a week or 5 times or if you prefer morning training before work or during lunchtime. Finding what fits in your lifestyle gives you the best chance of success in maintaining a consistent routine.
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Exercise bikes come with different levels of resistance that you can adjust accordingly. Most bikes have at least a 1-10 level resistance, though others can sometimes go up to 20 and it stimulates the feeling of cycling up a hill if you were on an outdoor bike. If you’re new to cycling, then using it without resistance is recommended. However, if you want to continuously challenge yourself, then take advantage of this function and level up.
If a slower yet longer workout sounds good to you, then LISS is a great choice. Standing for lower-intensity, steady state cardio, the exercise bike is perfect for this. You can sit, or stand, and pedal while you listen to a podcast or even watch a show. Some bikes even have the ability to screen real bike trails and paths so you can feel as though you’re along for the ride. You’ll be constantly moving, without really moving anywhere at all!
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HIIT (SPEED/RESISTANCE INTERVALS)
Short but sweet is more your thing? Then HIIT is the perfect choice for you. A higher-intensity interval training is really easy to come by on the exercise bike because you can adjust the intensity level based on the speed as well as resistance. Some ways you can use the HIIT training is by including sprint cycling for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, or elevating the resistance level to 10 for 30 seconds every minute or so. You’ll be able to burn more calories in less time.
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Whether it’s a regular bike, a folding exercise bike, or a mini exercise bike, they’re indeed a great option if your goal is weight loss. The exercise bike burns calories, assisting in creating a caloric deficit which is necessary for weight loss. The average person can burn 260 calories for a moderate 30-minute ride on a stationary exercise bike, which can contribute to your overall weight loss goals.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.