Whether you choose to ride just for the fun of it or to stay fit, you can’t deny that the calorie burn is great motivation. Cycling is a great exercise and no matter how you ride you are sure to burn plenty of fat. If, however, you need to lose some of the extra holiday weight, there are some ways to increase your calorie burn while cycling.
The average 180 pound cyclists burns about 650 calories in an hour of cycling. This means that if you ride for an hour a day, you will burn enough calories to equal a pound of body fat in about six days! Not too shabby considering most people agree that cycling is more fun than aerobics.
Here are some tips to burn off extra calories while cycling:
- Minimize coasting. When you ride, be aware how often you are coasting. When you coast, your heart rate decreases. This means that your calorie burn also decreases. Increase your calorie burn by minimizing coasting. Be aware of how much you are coasting. Most people coast far more often than they realize.
- Stay motivated. When you ride alone, it is easy to get into a rut. If you ride the same route every day, even the wonders of nature can become mundane. Ride with others for a change of scenery and to push yourself to ride with greater intensity. By riding in a pack, you will push yourself to ride harder and faster and therefore will burn more calories.
- Watch the snacks. Protein bars and energy gels are great for long, vigorous rides, but if you are trying to burn calories to lose weight, go for a banana or half of a bar. Raisins are a great source of easy-to-carry calories and are packed with fiber, too. No sense in burning calories if you are replacing them as you ride.
- Change your routine. If you continually bike the same route, try changing things up. Pick a different area to ride, or consider biking to work. Change the terrain or distance. It’s important to keep your body guessing and not settle too consistently into a routine. Simply changing your route can push you to ride harder and burn more calories. Look for a ride that offers more difficult terrain and greater challenges.
- Ride regularly. Taking a few days off every now and then can be good for your body, but don’t fall into a rut and take off too much time. To burn calories and fat, you should ride regularly. Go for four or five days a week for at least an hour. At first an hour may be too long, but you should be able to work up to it.
- Set goals for yourself. Again, it’s easy to settle into a routine. Set goals of increasing distance and time cycling. This will push you harder and therefore increase your caloric burn. Remember, however, to listen to the signals your body is sending. If you experience increasing fatigue or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a day or two, lower the intensity of your cycling.
- Mix up the intensity. Ride your hardest for a few minutes and then allow yourself to settle into a slower pace. Repeat this throughout your ride for a great calorie burn. Changing the intensity is good for your body and allows you to really push hard to achieve great high intensity bursts of burn!
- Eat after your ride – or before. Some people find they perform better if they ride on an empty stomach, after fasting for the night. Others find they feel nauseous, a little lightheaded, and cannot perform at an optimal level unless they fuel up first. Try it both ways – riding with an empty stomach or riding after eating a small amount of food, like a banana or a bran muffin.
- Practice moderation. Although high intensity, long rides are great for burning the most calories, they can be taxing on your body. In the long run you may ride less as you require more time off to recover. Instead, practice moderation. Slowly increase the intensity and frequency of your rides.
By following the tips listed above, you will likely burn more calories. Although no exercise will be enough to shed pounds overnight, cycling will turn you into a lean, mean, fat-burning machine. And once you lose the weight, regular cycling will work to keep you fit.
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Ride safely, follow the rules of the road, and wear a helmet whenever you are on your bike. If you ever experience pain or discomfort, slow down and contact your physician if it does not let up. At Kass & Moses, we encourage safe cycling. We represent bikers who have been injured in a bicycle crash and help them recover from their injuries. Keep us in mind if you are ever involved in a crash.