What if loosing weight was fun, exciting, social and you didn't even realise you were doing anything to make it happen?
Well... cycling, if you hadn't figured it out yet, ticks all those boxes, not by itself however. There are still a few things that you have to do to ensure everything goes smoothly. We'll run through those "How's" first so you don't get too excited and fly out the door on your bike before you know what you're doing.
How to do it - The Top Tips For Success
1. The Right Fit
Get a bike that is the right size for you and have it fitted by a professional with good reviews. Get a saddle (seat) that is comfortable for you! If you can't find one... keep looking. If you're getting a sore back, knees, neck, shoulders or just any area that you think just shouldn't be getting sore then your bike fit most likely needs fixing.
2. Clip-Ins Or Flat Pedals?
While clip-in pedals can be scary in the beginning, they will make the whole cycling experience more enjoyable in the long run once you're comfortable with them, and they'll actually have you burning more calories. Get shoes that are also comfortable and don't hurt after a couple of hours or on hot days.
Don't have your tire pressures too high. A PSI about equal to or 10% above your body weight on a road bike with tires 23-28mm wide will be perfect in 90% of conditions. The lower pressure improves ride comfort with no loss in speed whatsoever. (If you don't believe us, stay tuned for our next blog post on this top secret hack that is pretty hush hush in the cycling world right now).
3. Food & Rest
Eat the right foods; don't be scared of good quality carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes, stay hydrated, and make sure you're eating the right quantity of carbohydrates while you're cycling. For more details we've written a recent blog post specifically on this topic. (4 Tips To Keep Energy Levels High On The Bike).
Get enough rest so you don't overtrain. Read our blog post on how to avoid overtraining to ensure you actually are getting enough rest. (7 Symptoms of Overtraining and how to avoid cycling Over Training Syndrome (OTS)).
4. Riding Speed & Duration
Ease into it and slowly build up over time; the duration of your rides, the bunch sizes and speeds, the difficulty of the climbs, and your goals. If you're not having fun you won't want to keep doing it, and there is plenty of time for improvement.
RIDE IN ZONE 2 (55-75% of your FTP), 80 to 90% of the time you're on the bike. If you're riding slower than this for long periods of time you won't be working hard enough to burn a high number of calories. On the other hand, if you are riding a lot at higher zones you will get burnt out easier on your rides and have to rest for much longer. If you're interested in learning about your specific training zones (Heart Rate or Power), subscribe to our mailing list to receive your own training spreadsheet complete with: HR and Power Zone Calculator, Zone Training Recommendations, Power Profile Analysis Tool & Daily Training Activity Calendar. (To receive your training spreadsheet click "Subscribe" in the menu header at the top of this page, enter your email address and click subscribe)
The 5 Reasons Why Cycling Is The Best For Weight Loss
1. Low Injury Likelihood
Unlike most sports, cycling is very low impact, due to the fact that you are sitting on your bike, which in combination with your tires, takes any jolted impact with the ground. It is this kind of impact with the ground, along with change of direction and tackling, that causes the majority of injuries in sports such as basketball, soccer and long-distance running (Chan et. al.,1993). Therefore, in comparison, on average you can cycle for longer in duration than you can run, play basketball or soccer, burning more calories without getting injured.
However, if cycling is all you are doing for years on end, then you will want to incorporate some impact sports such as running every so often to ensure your bone mineral density (BMD) is maintained. Elite cyclists who do not incorporate impact sports into their training can end up with abnormally low BMD (Medelli, J, et. al, 2009).
By riding your bike you can explore more land and terrain types than any other sports, apart from maybe horse riding and those that involve motorised vehicles. In one day alone, once you build up your fitness, you can travel hundreds of kilometres, traversing multiple mountains that rise kilometres in height above sea level and alternating in numerous vegetation types, all from your front door with none petrol emission. Compare this to running around the block for half an hour, which do you think sounds more exciting.
If you ride your bike a lot, cycling can go from being just an exercise to a way of life, where it becomes part of your routine. If you use your bike to get around regularly or even occasionally, you'll be burning calories and working out without even thinking about it. It's better for the environment, you'll feel better with higher endorphin levels, parking is easier in busy cities and in peak traffic it can be much faster. After all, why do you think New York has so many bike couriers.
Because you can draft in cycling, that is, sit behind someone on the flat and not have to pedal as hard due to the fact that they are taking the majority of the air drag, you can ride with fitter people than yourself. Usually on longer group rides, they are also performed at an intensity that allows you to talk fairly comfortably. Compare this to running, where unless you are jogging extremely slowly with someone who is very close to your fitness level, talking is not an option.
The cycling community is also very strong and welcoming in many cities across the world and is always growing in size, with new group rides, companies, Instagram accounts and YouTube channels popping up everywhere.
Above all, cycling is great for helping you lose weight because hopefully you find it fun and you want to keep doing it. Chatting with friends on your rides, riding hard up hills competing with your mates, tearing down descents and continuing the banter afterwards at the coffee shop are all things that cause people to become addicted to cycling.
It's not always fun, however. Sometimes cycling can be more serious than fun. Crashing, getting sick or injured, or just being scared on the roads are all reasons why people give up cycling relatively quickly. In order to avoid these unpleasant sides of cycling, we recommend easing into it slowly. Take the time to get comfortable on your bike (especially with your clip-ins) on quiet roads before venturing out onto busier ones or on larger group rides. Make sure you're eating enough; you'll likely have to eat quite a significantly larger amount of food if you were not exercising much prior to taking up cycling. That means don't be scared to eat each time you are hungry, even if it is every few hours. Just make sure you're eating food that is going to keep you full, (not foods like white bread and jam). Eating and drinking sufficiently will ensure you don't get sick unnecessarily.
1. Chan, K.M. et. al, 1993. Sports causing most injuries in Hong Kong. Br J Sp Med, 27(4), 263-267. Available At: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/27/4/263.full.pdf
2. Medelli, J, et. al, 2009. Is Osteopenia a Health Risk in Professional Cyclists?. Journal of Clinical Densitometry: Assessment of Skeletal Health, 12(1), 28-34. Available At: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Zaida_Cordero-MacIntyre/publication/23300325_Is_Osteopenia_a_Health_Risk_in_Professional_Cyclists/links/55c384fc08aeca747d5fa7f1.pdf