Here are some great tips for success to lose weight cycling, gathered from real human beings who have actually managed to lose weight cycling! Don’t believe those who tell you it is not possible to lose weight through exercise alone. I know it is, because I have done it myself, more than once. A big increase in exercise will help most people to lose weight. And cycling is a fun way to do that.
Tip #1: Commit to giving up some of your time for cycling: Give up an hour of TV or computer time, as little as three days a week, to get a ride in. It’s going to be worth it! My complete bike fit training plan is really simple to follow, and it shows how you can get cycling fit with three bike rides per week. It also explains the myth of the fat burning zone, and tells you how to really burn calories efficiently.
Tip #2: Think about what you are eating to fuel your bike riding. Weight loss depends partly on what you eat, as well as on how much you exercise. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you are exercising, you can eat whatever you like. On the other hand, it is true that some people can lose weight merely by exercising more.
Tip #3: Don’t be intimidated if other cyclists are thinner than you are. There is sometimes a little anti-fat discrimination in cycling circles, but ignore it. You have every right to ride a bike. Check out our Guide for Fat Cyclists for more encouragement, and guidance on picking the right bike for your size.
Tip #4: Get the right bike: If you are starting out as a very heavy person, make sure you get a bike that is robust enough for you. A light-weight racer would not be the best bike to start out on. A mountain bike or a hybrid would be a better choice. Here’s a guide to choosing the right bike if you are a heavier cyclist. Also, make sure you get the right size bike, so it is comfortable and safe for you. Here’s a guide to getting the bike frame size right, which includes an explanation of how your ape index fits into the picture.
Tip #5: Start small and work your way up: Don’t go out and cycle two hours the first day, then find that you are too tired (and too sore!) to cycle again for a week. Build up slowly and minimize the pain. No-pain-no-gain is just not true! See my Complete Bike Fit Bike Training post which shows you how to start slowly and build up to great things.
Tip #6: Record your rides: This way you can track your progress and get motivated to ride more. It’s a way of challenging yourself by competing with yourself! You can use Garmin Connect, if you have a Garmin bike computer. Here’s a post that compares the three most popular Garmin bike computers. Also, there are also a host of apps you can download to your smart phone to track your rides for FREE. Good ones include Strava, Map my Ride, Google Maps, Cyclemeter, and Wahoo Fitness. Strava is my favorite, and it’s good for the global cycling community as well! You can also buy the excellent and simple-to-use Garmin 25 (reviewed here), the smallest GPS bike computer in the world.
Nothing is more motivating than looking back and feeling great about how many miles you have ridden, and how far you have come! You can compete against yourself, and also against other cyclists, if you follow each other.
Tip #7: Get a heart rate monitor so that you can train smart – see this post on how to use a heart rate monitor to get fit. This post also includes a table of perceived exertion, which you can use if you don’t want to buy a heart rate monitor.
Alternatively, just get a fitness tracker, so that you have got both Tip #6 (record your rides) and Tip #7 (record your heart rate) covered in just one gadget! These also have the advantage that you don’t have to use a sweaty chest band. The best one for cyclists is the Garmin Forerunner 935, which is currently on sale.
If you prefer something a little more feminine, and a lot less clunky, consider the Fitbit Charge 3.
Tip #8: Mix it up: Ride different routes to keep it interesting. If you can, ride different bikes too. For example, a racer will give you a good commute and a nice speed high, but mountain biking will give you more of a full body workout.
Tip #9: Be prepared to spend some money: You can’t spend a lot of time on a bike if you are uncomfortable, cold, and wet. Invest in the items you need, such as a comfortable saddle, a waterproof cycling jacket, decent cycling shoes, and padded undershorts. Once you’ve spent all that money, you’ll feel obligated to get out there and bike! (That psychology works for me, anyway.) Here’s a post all about how to dress for cycling.
Tip #10: Plan some rewards for yourself along the way. For example, give yourself a reward when you have ridden your first 100 miles. And the first 200 … and so on. Pick a reward you like that will not actively sabotage your goals! Like reward yourself with a puppy when you hit 1,000 miles! That way, you will start doing some walking as well.
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