Cycling For Weight Loss: Is 30 Minutes a Day Enough?
You Can Lose Weight Cycling, but Experts Say to Add Strength Training
There are so many reasons to love cycling. You can do it indoors or outdoors, at home or at the gym. It's also low-impact, making it easier on achy joints, and, of course, it burns calories! But if you're someone who uses cycling as your go-to workout — or you're considering adding it to your workout regimen — you may be wondering if cycling can really lead to better overall health, especially if you have little time to spare. POPSUGAR spoke with experts to find out if cycling for even 30 minutes a day is enough to lose weight and put you on the path to feeling stronger and healthier.
Can You Lose Weight by Cycling For 30 Minutes a Day?
"It is possible to lose weight from cycling 30 minutes a day," Jennifer Chew, MPT, MSc, an NASM-certified personal trainer and weight loss specialist, tells POPSUGAR. Thirty minutes of cycling burns 200 calories on average, although that number depends on a few factors, including your weight, the intensity of your workout, and the resistance, Chew explains.
If you're looking to burn the maximum number of calories you can in those 30 minutes, there are a couple of ways to make that happen:
- Up your resistance. "The easiest way is definitely to increase resistance," Chew says. "Cardio is like resistance training. You need to use progressive overload principles to get better and to avoid plateaus." June Sayer, an ACE-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor agrees, adding that there are benefits to even slowing down your pace but upping your resistance during your 30-minute workout.
- Add in short, high-intensity intervals. "As your body gets stronger, you are able to increase the intensity, with a mixture of short spin intervals," Sayer explains. Try adding short bursts of sprints to your workout, or even intervals of low-cadence, high-resistance cycling.
Why You Should Combine Cardio With Strength Training
While weight loss is possible while cycling 30 minutes a day, Sayer and Chew stress the importance of incorporating strength training and making other lifestyle changes in order to ensure you make progress on your goals.
"When you're pairing a strength training regimen with cardiovascular activity [like cycling], your body composition will change significantly by increasing calorie burn and muscle mass," Krystal Goodman, an NCSF-certified personal trainer and coach at Orangetheory, tells POPSUGAR. Goodman explains that the combination of elevating your heart rate through cycling and adding in that strength-training component will "give you the real bang for your buck" when it comes to fat burn and weight loss. Chew agrees, noting that increased muscle mass "promotes better metabolism," which ultimately allows your body to lose weight more sustainably.
A combination of cardio and strength training, paired with a healthy diet, should help you get results. But the diet is key: "At the end of the day, the most important point to losing weight is daily caloric intake versus daily caloric expenditure," Chew says. "If you are constantly eating fewer calories than you are burning, you will lose weight."
Trainer Tips For Sustaining Your Cycling Routine
So, now that you've committed to cycling 30 minutes a day, you may be wondering how you can sustain that moving forward! Here are some effective, easy-to-apply suggestions from the experts.
- Add healthier foods to your diet. By eating healthier and incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your meals, you'll have more energy to put towards your workouts, Goodman explains. Why does this matter? When you're better fueled, you'll be able to sustain working out daily, and cycle at a higher intensity with more resistance.
- Mix up indoor and outdoor cycling. Although Sayer doesn't feel there's a significant difference between cycling indoors or biking outside, rotating between indoor and outdoor workouts at least seasonally is an easy way to add variety to your routine.
- Find a cycling buddy. Sayer suggests cycling with a friend, to keep one another accountable and to "support each other, which will make it more fun." And if your friend isn't close in proximity, no worries — you can also hop on a call as you cycle together, keeping each other virtual company during each session!