The right exercise bikes can be ridiculously effective for weight loss at home or at the gym. They deliver a low impact form of exercise and are great for burning calories, increasing strength and toning your muscles.
Depending on whether you exercise moderately or intensely, you can burn 250 – 400 calories with a 30 minute workout. (Even more with HIIT workouts and spin cycles)
You will need to burn about 3500 calories to lose a pound, so plan on vigorously pedaling 30 – 40 minutes a day to lose a pound a week.
Of course, you can see more dramatic results by consuming less calories every week to go along with exercising on a stationary bike.
Page Table of Contents
- Which Exercise Bikes are More Effective
- Interval Training for Faster Weight Loss
- Frequently Asked Questions
Which Exercise Bikes are More Effective
Even though all exercise bikes are great for cardio exercise, some styles are just more effective than others when it comes to burning calories.
Stationary bikes can be divided into several groups, and I have listed the 3 main ones. You will see how they compare for dieting and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
An upright exercise bike can deliver powerful results for weight loss, toning, strengthening, endurance levels, overall fitness, and cardio health.
Upright bikes have the pedals aligned under your knees while sitting on the seat. The handle bars are at a comfortable distance from you and require you to use upper body and core muscles to stay upright.
Most quality upright exercise bikes have handlebars that move in sync with the pedals. These bikes are highly effective for weight loss!
A good workout on an upright bike will involve your entire body. You will burn a lot of calories as you both pedal and push and pull the handle bars at the same time.
Some upright bikes use a fan for air resistance. The faster you pedal the more resistance you meet, and the more calories burned.
I enjoy the fact that I can workout my arms alone, only my legs, or pedal and use the moveable handles simultaneously. Using the pedals and the handle bars at the same time gives me a full body workout.
Check out my Schwinn Airdyne review post.
Recumbent bikes put less strain on your back and joints than any other type, but are the least effective for weight loss.
The main difference in an upright bike and a recumbent bike is the seat and the location of the pedals and handlebars. Whereas an upright bike uses a saddle type bicycle seat, the recumbent bike has a chair type of seat.
Sitting in the chair allows you to sit closer to the floor with your feet out in front instead of below you.
You’ll also find the handle bars stationary and at your side instead of in front of you. This design causes even less stress on your knees and hips than the upright bikes.
There’s little doubt that the recumbent bikes provide a more comfortable exercise experience. However, it might come with some disadvantages?
However, all of this comfort leads to less weight loss than any of the other types of exercise bikes. With the recumbent style bike, you have great support, but engage fewer muscle groups.
Most of the people I see on recumbent bikes at the gym are merely taking a leisurely ride that burning very few calories. Of course you can turn up the intensity by pedaling faster and harder, but I think the comfort of a recumbent sort of distracts from a real workout?
Here’s my review of one of the best recumbent bikes for weight loss
Indoor cycles, or spin cycles, are usually the dominant stationary bikes in gyms these days. The reason is simple: These bikes give you the opportunity to burn the most calories of any exercise bike.
That is, if you’re willing to put out a lot of energy and ride as hard and fast as you can?
Indoor cycles often resemble upright bikes, except that the handlebars are stationary and much farther forward. Indoor cycles are often referred to as spin bikes.
With the forward handlebars, you shift your body forward and can even stand up to pedal.
This position of your body actually engages more muscles than either of the other classes, therefore causing some very serious calorie burn.
In fact, indoor cycles, or spin bikes, are the most effective for weight loss.
Interval Training for Faster Weight Loss
HIIT is the fastest form of exercise I know of for losing pounds, and is perfect for exercise bikes.
Here’s a few post describing the effectiveness of High Intensity Interval Training:
HIIT is all about short intervals of your maximum exertion followed by short intervals of rest, and doing this for about 15 minutes.
Interval training burn ridiculous amount of calories in a very short time while you pedal, but it keeps your body burning calories for hours afterwards.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Long Should I Ride an Exercise Bike to Lose Weight?
The key is awareness of your fitness level before you start. Cycling indoors is great for burning calories, but you can pedal to much. Especially in the beginning.
Start your workouts slow for best results, and work up to riding 3 times a week for 30 -45 minutes. Unless you’re using High Intensity Interval Training, which takes far less time and burns more calories.
It’s easy to be overzealous and train too hard, especially when first starting out. Riding your exercise bike too long or too often can lead to:
- Sore muscles, joints, and injuries
- Your body to hold excess weight instead of losing it
- Losing your motivation to continue exercising
Exercise bikes make it easy to regulate the intensity and time of each workout.
In fact, many stationary exercise bikes now come equipped with heart rate monitors and calorie counters. This makes it easy to stay in your perfect heart rate zone while visually seeing how many calories you burn.
So, take it easy at first and work up slowly to your peak performance to lose weight and build strength.
2. Are Exercise Bikes Bad for My Knees?
Indoor cycling is one of the best ways to get your exercise and stay fit with no damage to your knees.
In fact, exercise bikes are always a part of rehab programs. Cycling to lose weight is much easier on your knees than walking, running, or using a treadmill.
Exercising on a bike is considered a low impact workout and provides a great for improving both stability and range of motion in your knees.
Tips for Exercising with bad knees
- Don’t overtrain, especially when you start your exercise program
- Instead of jumping on the bike and start pedaling, warm up your knees by walking around a little.
- Try different seat positions. Find the perfect settings for up and down, and don’t hunch over the handlebars. Slide forward and backwards on the seat to keep your knees over your ankles when riding.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees on the down stroke.
- Knee Sleeves add warmth, stability and support to knees.
When it comes to losing weight, you never want to depend on only one exercise routine.
Instead of relying strictly on a stationary bike, include walking, and weights. Alternating days keeps you active and your metabolism stoked all the time, promoting weight loss constantly.
3. Which Exercise Bike is Best for Weight Loss?
There is a vast variety of brands, types, and models, and most of the more expensive models come with a variety of features.
I think the least effective types are recumbent exercise bikes, and folding bikes. Even though they both provide excellent benefits when it comes to cardio, you miss the full body workout of other types.
The best exercise bikes for weight loss, in my opinion, will have movable handlebars that are part of the exertion action.
Often referred to as upright bikes, when the handlebars flow back and forth in tandem with the pedals, you burn a lot of calories.
Of course spin cycles burn extreme amounts of calories when you are in an extreme workout.
I prefer an upright bike because it always gets both my upper and lower body involved in the exercise.
When it comes to what brand is better, I always chose Schwinn simply because they make quality products.
There’s two camps of believers when it comes to losing weight: Those who rely on consuming less calories and those who rely on exercise. And then there’s the common sense approach that includes both.
You can definitely lose weight without exercise by merely cutting your caloric intake by a minimum of 500 calories a day. However, when you exercise for 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week, you turn on your metabolism for more effective weight loss.
After every workout, your metabolism will stay fired up for hours afterwards, and this is the key to losing that excess fat as fast as possible.