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6 Reasons Why Biking Can Help You Lose Weight

By Jennifer Sage On November 12, 2012 Under Cadence, Weight Loss

Bicycling magazine has published a good article on how bicycling can help you lose weight. Most of it is spot-on and emphasizes the fat-burning ability of aerobic exercise like cycling.

An example is their reason #3: Trains muscles to burn more fat.

Cycling, especially long, steady rides, builds hundreds of thousands of capillaries in your legs, which means you can deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. Your mitochondria—the fat-burning furnaces in your muscle cells—also get bigger, so they can use the increased influx of oxygen to burn more fat and produce more energy.

Most of these we can extrapolate to our students in our Spinning® classes. But I want to stress something that is extremely important if you’re going to pass on this information and this article to your students. You’ve heard me mention it before, many times, but it’s very pertinent in this case:

You must, must, must have resistance on the bike if you hope to burn those calories, especially the fat calories!

It’s the muscles that burn fat, not the cardiovascular system. It’s the muscles that do the work, so they need a resistance to push against. So getting your heart rate up with no resistance and high cadence won’t do what this article is telling you that cycling will do. On a bike outside, a cyclist will recognize immediately how fruitless it is to pedal at very high cadences in such a low gear, because they won’t be going very fast at all, and as a result, they will shift up until they are moving faster than a slow shuffle. So this isn’t an issue with outdoor cyclists.

Indoor cyclists however, don’t have that lack of forward movement to tell them they are being fools pedaling that fast in such a low gear. So, reiterate to your students that if they want to burn those calories, if they want to get all these benefits that this article is talking about, then they have to stop the super high cadence BS, add some resistance, and slow the legs down to 100 rpm or less (on average)!

Otherwise, they are wasting their time.

It’s the resistance guys! ;-)

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1 Trackback

  1. 6 Reasons Why Biking Can Help You Lose Weight – Indoor Cycling … | Bicycle News Gator
    November 12, 2012 6:16 AM


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Jordan
    November 13, 2012
    2:10 am #comment-1

    Additional take-away, which was funny since it was just this thing I was mentioning in class this evening. We always tell clients to “stay connected”, “full revolutions”, “pull up”. They point out in this article that your hamstrings are one of the bigger muscles in the body, but it’s also one of the ones that doesn’t get adequately exercised. You don’t really realize how weak these are until you pop one (old martial arts injury in my cass). I often tell student that if you’re only pushing down on the pedal that you’re only getting half the workout, while not technically accurate it does express a point. It’s that pulling up motion that engages the muscles that make up the “hamstring” to strengthen them, and the stronger they are, the less prone to injury they are.

    • Karen McGregor
      November 14, 2012
      5:07 am #comment-2

      Spot on!! One of the cues I use to get people to engage hams and glutes it “Be light on the pedals, don’t be a masher, pull up, pull up!”

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