With hybrid training set to be one of the biggest fitness trends for 2024, cardio is taking a firm spot in people’s training regimes. Riding a stationary exercise bike is one of the best forms of cardio; it’s not only good for our cardiovascular health, but an excellent lower body burner and is far easier on the joints compared to other cardio machines, like the treadmill. Plus, thanks to space-saving folding exercise bikes, it's never been easier to have one on our homes, it's even easier to have one in our homes, so you don't even need to hit the gym.
Just like with all physical activity, an exercise bike can help you lose weight, as it can increase the amount of calories you burn in a day, especially if you’re also eating in a calorie deficit. While using an exercise bike is easy enough, knowing exactly how to utilise an exercise bike in order to help you lose weight isn’t as straightforward.
“Beginners just starting out, should aim for 15-30 minutes per day of cycling, no more than three times per week," says Lucie Cowan, Cycle Master Trainer at Third Space London. “Gradually increase the duration as your fitness improves, but also think to include other forms of training to support your cycling, such as strength training. This will balance out the muscles used in cycling and prevent them being overused and stop other muscles to be neglected."
Below, Lucie recommends three ways you can use an exercise bike to assist you on your weight loss journey.
1. High-Intensity Interval Training
You’ve probably heard of HIIT, where you perform short bursts of activity at a high intensity, followed by short rests. In general, HIIT is excellent for helping burn fat, lose weight and can even build lean muscle, and this also applies when using this style of training on an exercise bike. “HIIT workouts can be much shorter, but more intense,” says Lucie, “with sessions ranging from 15 to 30 minutes.”
For a Tabata-style HIIT session you could do 20 seconds of max effort cycling, followed by 10 seconds rest and repeat this eight times. Or, you could do a 30/30 HIIT session; 30 seconds of hard cycling, followed by a 30 second rest do this for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to start with five to 10 minutes of gentle cycling as your warm up first. Three sessions a week should be plenty.
2. LISS training
This is the opposite of HIIT, it’s low intensity interval training, where you’d do a 30 to 60 minute cycle at a moderate intensity. It will still help you burn plenty of calories, but Lucie says it’s also beneficial for cardiovascular health and boosting endurance. “Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling approximately 3-4 days of the week,” she says. “For building endurance though, consider longer rides of 60 minutes or more. Gradually extend your sessions to challenge your stamina.”
3. Go to a cycle class
Whether you struggle with motivation or don't own an exercise bike, but want to start using one, then cycle classes, like spin, are a great way to help you on your weight loss journey. The whole class will be well thought out by the instructor and, according to Healthline, you can burn between 400 to 600 calories, depending on the level of intensity.
“Many, myself included, have found another level of motivation when riding as part of a like minded community in group cycling classes," says Lucie. "This sense of togetherness can encourage regular attendance and make it easier to stick with a routine.” One of the hardest things when it comes to trying to lose weight is staying consistent, so if a positive environment is what you need to keep you motivated, then embrace it.