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Why and How can you use cycling for weight loss

by Anshuman Sen
Cycling Anshuman sen

How can you use cycling for weight loss

I lost 25 kgs in 5 months and lost 9 inches from my tummy!!!

Anshuman Sen before and after

I started my weight loss journey in December 2017 with cycling as the first tool to help me with weight loss. Overtime as my size changed from 37” to 29”, a lot of people started asking me as to how they could lose weight with cycling. So if you have just taken up cycling for weight loss or are planning to take up cycling for fitness then read on.


Will You Lose Weight with Only Cycling?

First up, if you have been living a very sedentary lifestyle and take up cycling, then you would definitely see a few kgs disappear. However let me be very honest here, you would not see drastic results with just cycling.

To lose weight and fat you would need to pair your workouts with a quantified and structured diet. Your cycling too needs to be structured into a plan to show quick, effective and definitive results.

I would be sharing more details on diet and recipes you could try at home, however here is a basic read on diet.

Cycling for Weight loss

Cycling Anshuman sen

Cycling is inherently aerobic (using adequate oxygen to help produce energy) in nature and hence one needs to spend considerable amount of time on the saddle to burn enough calories to dig into the fat burning reserve. Most of us do not have access to this time and hence we struggle to lose weight or the belly fat. You might have noticed that even long distance endurance cyclist around you still sport a bulging belly.

To lose fat one needs to get into the anaerobic (energy produced in the absence of oxygen) range of workout. In layman terms when you workout in the anaerobic region your body starts producing lactic acid which is why you would notice soreness in your muscles.

However research has shown that it is best to mix aerobic with anaerobic sessions to obtain the best results. The muscle damage the anaerobic sessions produce requires the body to elevate the metabolism levels to help repair the muscle systems which ensures that your metabolism stays higher even after 24 hours of your workout session.

Your body goes into anaerobic zone when you perform short high intensity sessions.


Tip 1: Ride Daily


Don’t be a weekend warrior. Just one or two days a week will have little or no effect. A sustained effort over the week would show better results. You could cycle to work, so that you are consistently riding 5-6 days a week. What are you doing with a consistent training is that you are burning calories on a daily basis. The body recovers and repairs on a daily basis and not only on weekends. A long ride on a weekend would not help.

If your office is nearby then you could probably add a few extra kilometers by taking a longer route. Office commutes on the cycle is a very good way to get your fitness goals going because you are utilizing the time you would be sitting in the car or the bus for training. You save a lot of time and you would be surprised that you take almost the same time  to commute to office on the bike as you would in a car or bus. And hey the reduction in stress levels is phenomenal.

Take a Different Route

Another great idea is to mix it up. If you get into a routine you body will quickly adapt and you will stop seeing results. Change the route on a weekly basic or even alternate days. Mixing climbs and flats ensures that your body and muscles do not get used to the training intensity and this helps keep things moving.

Interval sessions on the cycle for anaerobic zone training

Tip 2: Power Sessions

I had heard someone say “do not get empty kilometers in your training, make the most of the short time you have got.”

Interval sessions are great to get the best in a short time. You might just have an hour a day but could get dramatic results within that one hour. You could use these sessions even during your office commutes.

Interval training sessions helps your seesaw between aerobic and anaerobic zones to help show the best result. But please note, only do these sessions 1-2 times a week and not on a daily basis.

Choose a relatively flat route for these sessions. For power intervals simply shift to a high gear and cycle at higher intensity for 30 seconds to 1 minutes and then shift to a lower gear and spin for a minute. The idea here is to work out a higher power output during your power interval. Remember to choose a power and intensity that you can maintain even for the last interval.

Training Plan

Warm up with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

High gear High, power interval: 30 sec -1 min

Low gear, low power spin interval: 1 minute

Repeat with 5- 10 intervals in each session

Cool down with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

You would feel absolutely spent after the session.


Tip 3: Hill Repeat / Hill Climbs


Hill repeats have been known for being a great training tool for increasing the muscular endurance and also improve the cardiovascular endurance. Choose a small gradual climb for this training. Something that can be done in a 30 seconds to 120 seconds time, preferably a grade 4-8% climb.

Training Plan

Warm up with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

Climb Interval and high intensity. Choose a comfortable gear in which you can ride up at the same intensity even for the last interval.

Going down the hill should be your low intensity interval.

Repeat with 5- 10 intervals in each session

Cool down with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

You would feel absolutely spent after the session.

Remember that you should choose an intensity and gear which you can sustain for all the intervals and can also maintain for the complete climb.


Tip 4: High Intensity Intervals


As you progress and have been making significant progress and have developed the muscle mass to handle high intensity sessions, you can start with sprint sessions. Sprint high intensity sessions should ideally tried on straight patches. For you high intensity sessions you could increase your speeds by 15-20% than your regular speeds. For example if you ride at 20 kmph try 25 kmph for your high intensity interval and 20 kmph for your low intensity interval.

Training Plan

Warm up with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

High Intensity Interval: 30 sec -2 min

Low Intensity Interval: 30 sec – 1 min

Repeat with 5- 10 intervals in each session

Cool down with a high cadence spin for 10-15 minutes

You would feel absolutely spent after the session.


Tip 5: Pro Tip:


Ideally people would recommend against riding on an empty tummy, and so would I for beginners. However once you have gotten comfortable with riding for a month or so and doing 20-30 km rides then you could try this trick.

Plan early morning pre breakfast rides. Wake up and have a cup of black coffee, no milk, no sugar, no breakfast. Go for a 20-30 km ride and end the ride with a nutritious breakfast. It is very important that have a good breakfast post the ride.

Avoid refined sugar to the extent you can. In your tea and coffee and other sugary drinks.

Things you could Invest in
PS: To train you would either need a timer or a cycle computer. The most ideal is a cycle computer or you could simply strap your phone on the frame or handle and be able to view your efforts with an app like Strava.

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Dr Subhash kokane July 3, 2018 - 12:28 pm

Anshuman u have saved ur ten lakh rupees by using your muscles,I feel regularity is very important.now don’t do any more weight reduction.

Anshuman Sen July 4, 2018 - 8:43 am

Dear Dr Kokane, thank you for your encouraging words. I have been able to maintain my weight since the last 2 months. Aim now is to make improvements in my cycling ability, both endurance and speeds so that I can look at participating in competitive events. The training plan would still be the same however now I am modifying my diet with higher quantities of carbohydrates to compensate for the training intensity.

Swanand Deshpande July 3, 2018 - 4:37 pm

Great efforts Anshuman & Thanks to sharing your experience it’s needful for everyone 👍

Anshuman Sen July 4, 2018 - 8:45 am

Thank you Swanand. Glad my knowledge sharing is of help to the cycling community in general. I see many people take up cycling to loose weight, fail and give up. I have myself been through that over the years but I was finally able to pull off my weight loss story this year and decided to share so that more people are able to reach their goals and stick to cycling for long term.

Ajit Mane July 17, 2018 - 4:00 pm

Great Anshuman, I am doing similar way of workout as you explained, likely commute, doing extra miles, different routes. Initially I burnt 7 kgs in 3 months with dieting. Later maximum weight lost @ 14 kgs. It’s a great exercise and improve immune system and stamina.

Anshuman Sen July 18, 2018 - 6:50 am

Dear Ajit, your heroics with the mono gear is legendary. I have been using a mono speed for my city commutes and that extra training has been really helpful.

Cycling for Weight Loss: Does it work? | BikeTrainerWorld December 20, 2018 - 9:45 am

[…] man proudly attributes his weight loss to cycling. He says he lost about 55 lbs in 5 months and his tummy reduced by 9”, […]


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