Biking for Cardio – Benefits of Cycling To Burn Fat and Calories


There is never any shortage of cardio machines available to help you burn calories. Every year these machines keep getting bigger, better and fancier. All of these new toys are fun but you can keep your elliptical, your stair machine and your treadmills. You can even spare me the rowing machine and really whatever the heck that thing is that looks like a stairmaster, bench pressing time machine. When it comes time for me to burn some serious calories, I will always reach for my trusty bicycle. This is largely because even the most dusty and rusty bike has massive advantages over the newest cardio equipment in any gym.

You Can Go The Distance
Its simple math. The more you do a select activity, the more fat and calories you burn. Because the bike carries your own weight and the pedal motion is low impact, you have a workout that doesn’t beat up your body. This means that you can ride with both high volume and high frequency to burn massive amounts of flab. It’s not even out of the reach for many people to ride every day and not suffer any form of overtraining.

You Can Go Super Hard
Even though biking may not beat you up, that does not mean it doesn’t have the potential to work you pretty hard. Simply racing a clock or a best friend will quickly motivate you to push yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed before. As an added bonus, this sort of intensity is also very effective towards building all of the muscles in your lower body. Everything from your hips to the muscles in your feet can potentially perform thousands of reps per hour. That’s a lot better than counting reps on a machine.

You Work a Lot of Muscles
bike-riding-cardioAside from the time you put in, the more muscle you work the more calories you stand to burn. Kind of like how a bigger engine will burn more gas, when you use bigger muscles, you’re able to torch more fat. This is why no one ever created a fat loss program based around one of those stress balls you squeeze with your hand. Riding a bike works all of the large muscles in the lower body. However, the work load doesn’t just end at your waist. Biking is actually a pretty good full body workout.

Each pedal stroke requires your core and upper body to work in powerful isometric contractions to ensure balance and control. This is especially true if you ride standing up or while going up hills. Sometimes I’ll even feel a hard ride more in my arms and abs the next day.

You Don’t Have To Spend a Lot of Money
Yes, you do need to have a bike and preferably a comfortable helmet. Ideally, you’ll also have some apparel as well but it’s not essential. Beyond that however, it’s all bells and whistles.

Your fat burning abilities rest entirely on your use of the bike rather than the bike itself. This means that the old 10 speed that’s gathering dust in the basement is every bit as effective at torching fat as the latest bikes the professionals ride. The most you can ask from your bike is that it’s safe, comfortable and reliable. If you have all 3 of those then your bike will deliver every fat burning advantage it possibly can.

Plus once you’re all outfitted, you will be in the clear. Unlike golf of skiing, you don’t have to pay to play. No more membership fees and no high maintenance costs. A simple tune up each spring is about all you’ll need.

Hills Don’t Give You Any Slack
If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that’s not flat as a pancake then you’re in luck. Riding up hills works you in a way no cardio machine at the gym can no matter how high you crank that resistance. A big reason for this is because a hill is not adjustable. You can’t make it shorter nor can you decrease the grade. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or having an off day, that hill is going to challenge you all the same. It’s like a drill sergeant without an ounce of mercy towards your fat stores.

You Have To Get Back Home
Just as you can’t make a hill any easier, you always have to ride back to where you started. At the gym you can always just hop off the machine and hit the shower. On a bike ride you always have to get yourself back home. If you ride 10 miles out, you have to ride 10 miles back. You might be able to find a short cut, but in most cases you’re not going to be able to duck out very easily. You’re going to ride those last few miles whether you want to or not.

You Can Commute
Unlike walking or running, the bike is a pretty practical means of transportation. We all need to get somewhere every day, thus you also have the opportunity to workout everyday. Think about it this way, if you workout in the gym 3 times a week for 45 minutes that adds up to about 2.25 hours of cardio a week. But if you have a 30 minute pedal commute to work or school then that’s over an hour each day or 5-7 hours a week. That’s about 3 times the cardio than the average gym routine!

By the end of a few months you’ll have racked up more calorie burning time than most people achieve in a year. Plus you’ll still be going on a commute so you’ll save yourself from the extra time needed to workout as well as a lot of money on gas.

Riding Is Fun
Who doesn’t love the feeling of wind in their face and sun on their skin? Riding a bike is a one of the simple joys in life that gives back far more than you invest in it. These days, cardio machines have all sorts of entertainment options like TVs and MP3 hook ups. They have these features for the same reason you can find those features on airline flights. That reason is because even though the body may be working, the mind is bored stiff.

There is no need for a magazine rack on a bicycle. The natural terrain and the changing scenery keeps both body and mind engaged for a complete holistic experience. So as the weather gets nice and warm, I hope you’ll give your trusty bicycle a shot. It’s just too much to ignore the fat and calorie burning benefits it can bring, let alone the fun you will have doing it!

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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