No, we’re not suggesting you court a ‘roid-loaded hyperdermic, rather reacquaint yourself with the dusty two-wheeler that’s been chained to the water pipe outside your flat. The bicycle is actually the world’s best apparatus for developing your stamina and promoting fat loss. Here are five things to consider before you take it out for a spin.
1 Ride at least four days a week
Consistency rules when it comes to losing weight on a bike, says Edmund Burke, PhD, author of Serious Cycling. To lose a kilo or two a week, aim for a minimum of three short rides of 30 to 60 minutes each during the week, and one longer trip of one to two hours on the weekend. If you haven’t been on your bike for a while, stick to shorter rides until you’re in a good enough condition for a long one, Burke advises.
2 Don’t go too fast
Most guys jump on their bikes and start hammering like they’re Lance Armstrong, says Chris Carmichael, former head coach of the US Cycling team and well, Lance Armstrong. That kind of all-out riding pushes your heart rate into the anaerobic range, so that your body can’t send oxygen to your muscles fast enough to burn fat. The rate at which your body effectively burns fat is at about 65 per cent," says Carmichael.
3 Stop coasting
Cycling at 25km/h burns about 650 calories per hour. "But it’s only if you’re pedaling," says Burke. "Coasting doesn’t burn many more calories than sitting in a recliner clicking the remote." To keep pedaling consistently, shift into a higher gear on easier terrain. "You’ll burn twice as many calories as you would half-pedaling and half-coasting, and you’ll lose weight faster."
4 Use your low gears on flats and uphills
Riding in a higher gear feels more manly, but you’ll save your knees and burn more calories by using a lower gear (a smaller chainring) and spinning quickly, the way the pros do, says Barney King, a US Cycling Federation certified elite coach. "Spinning keeps you in that premium aerobic range. You burn fat without becoming fatigued." Aim for a cadence of 80 to 100 revolutions per minute. To determine your cadence, count the number of times your right leg hits the bottom of the pedal stroke in a 10-second period. Then multiply that number by six.
5 Leave the beaten path
You don’t see many fat mountain-bike riders. An hour off-road riding burns about 600 calories and works your whole body, not just your legs. "There’s more resistance on the trails, so you expend more energy," says Carmichael. You’re building your upper-body muscles as you pull up over rocks and logs.
Picture courtesy of Singapore Sports Council.