How to lose weight using an exercise bike

how to lose weight using an exercise bike: image shows woman on exercise bike at gym
(Image credit: Getty)

Want to know how to lose weight using an exercise bike? If we take it back to basics, there’s one simple equation to remember. To shift excess weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Cardiovascular exercise can be a great way to increase the calories you burn and so is a useful tool in your weight loss strategy alongside a healthy diet.

Sticking to a new exercise regime can be a challenge. If you’ve ever found your motivation for a run vanish at the sight of a raincloud then indoor options could be a good alternative. The exercise bike offers a great way to get a high-intensity workout that minimizes strain on the joints. 

With increasing options for the best exercise bikes for home workouts, you need never skip cardio because of the rain again. We've also found these other forms of cardio that burn more calories than running

Is cycling on an exercise bike good for weight loss?

So, why choose an exercise bike for your cardio workout? Dr. Erin Nitschke, personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist told Tom's Guide: "Exercise bikes are fantastic for more than just a goal of weight loss. A bike provides a non-weight-bearing form of cardiorespiratory training, so it’s a great option for someone with joint concerns or balance considerations."

When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, it can be helpful to think in terms of fat loss rather than weight loss. Erin explained the difference: "Weight loss is a reduction in body weight overall — think about the number you see on a bathroom scale or at the doctor’s office. Fat loss is a change in body composition and an overall reduction in non-lean tissue. Body weight fluctuates throughout the day and from day to day — we lose water, expel waste, ingest food, etc., all of which impact the number we see on the scale. Relying on body weight alone as a measure of health or indicator of leanness is invalid as well as inaccurate." Reframing our goals in terms of fat loss can encourage a healthier, more sustainable approach.

How to lose weight using an exercise bike: image shows man on exercise bike

(Image credit: Getty)

So how can an exercise bike help with fat loss? Helen Vanderburg, Balanced Body Integrated Movement Specialist and owner of The ACADEMY Fitness Club explains that: "As cycling uses the large muscles of the lower body, the number of calories burned in a workout can be very high." An exercise bike workout can support you to reach a caloric deficit. 

The benefits of an exercise bike for improving body composition are supported by research. A 2019 review published in Medicina showed that indoor cycling may reduce fat mass as well as improve aerobic capacity and the best results were in combination with a healthy diet. When it comes to fat loss, don’t forget that calorie intake is the other part of the equation. You’ll want to focus on eating nutrient-dense, whole foods so you don’t undo your efforts.

How to lose weight using an exercise bike

Ready to hit the pedals? Erin suggested that if you’re new to exercise starting small and building up is the best strategy. She recommended that: “individuals engage in whatever type of cardiorespiratory exercise they enjoy and will do consistently. An exercise bike is a great option and accumulating a few days a week of activity is a wonderful place to start.” If running is your thing, here's how to lose weight by running

If your goal is healthy fat loss, both Erin and Helen agreed that you’ll get the best results from combining exercise bike workouts with a couple of sessions of strength training per week. This builds muscle, and the greater proportion of muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.

Long workouts aren’t necessarily better when it comes to fat loss. Incorporating exercise bike intervals into High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can burn a significant number of calories in a short time. This adds up to an efficient workout. Helen advised that: "the key point with HIIT is the workouts need to be performed at a very high to anaerobic intensity and the recovery needs to be adequate for the work intensity."

Erin advised adjusting the length of training depending on your fitness level and schedule. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 - 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 - 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week or an equivalent combination of both. Helen suggested that: "consistency is important for the best overall gains. Planning a weekly schedule will keep you on track."

How to lose weight using an exercise bike: image shows woman on exercise bike

(Image credit: Getty)

Using exercise bike workouts as part of an overall strategy can have the best results for your body composition and your health. Erin advises that you "should engage in a combination of cardiorespiratory training like an exercise bike, strength training, mindful nutrition practices and remember to reduce stress and prioritize sleep."

Ready to get started? Helen suggested this 30 minute HIIT workout with exercise bike intervals.

  • 5 minute warm-up: Easy cycle for 5 minutes 
  • 5:00 minutes: 5 X 30 seconds very hard cycle followed by 30 seconds of recovery
  • 2:00 minutes: active recovery 
  • 6:00 minutes: 6 X 20 seconds very hard cycle followed by 40 seconds of recovery
  • 2:00 minutes: active recovery  
  • 5:00 minutes: 5 X 20 seconds all-out maximum effort cycle followed by 40 seconds of recovery 
  • 5 minute cool down: Easy cycle for 5 minutes  

You’re more likely to stick to your exercise plan if you find something you enjoy. If you’ve tried other options and they’ve fallen by the wayside, now may be the time to give the exercise bike a try. 

Looking for more inspiration? Read what happened when one TG staffer went from not exercising to one month on a Peloton

Louise Bond

Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The GuardianPlanet Mindful and Psychreg among others. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.