Whether you want to slim down for vacation, a special event, or the holidays, exercise needs to be part of the weight-loss equation. Exercise will help you preserve muscle mass, which is healthier for your body and better for your appearance. Plus, maintaining muscle will make your weight loss easier to sustain for the long haul. While a leisurely bike ride outside isn’t likely to help you shave off pounds, indoor cycling training can. Besides burning 400 to 600 calories in a 45-minute class there are other benefits of spinning. Indoor cycling also helps rev up your metabolism and offers the opportunity to tone and strengthen all of the muscles in your legs, glutes, and core—without bulking up your thighs. To get the most out of an indoor cycling routine, see the tips below.
Eat before you ride.
Contrary to what you may have heard about the benefits of exercising on an empty stomach, it’s smart to provide your body with the energy it needs to ride hard and get maximal benefits from the workout. Even if you take an early morning class, eat something small 30 minutes before you ride. Do the same an hour or two before afternoon or evening cycling sessions by having a combination of protein and carbs. Besides helping you fuel up for the workout, eating beforehand can help you burn extra calories, thanks to the thermic effect of food. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the ride; your body needs a sufficient water intake to keep your metabolism humming and burning calories efficiently.
Vary the pace and difficulty.
With most forms of exercise, interval training can pump up your metabolism more than exercising at a steady state—and the same is true of indoor cycling. Think of it as a way of tricking your body into burning calories faster. By alternating bursts of harder pedaling (meaning, a faster cadence against heavier resistance) with a more comfortable pace, you’ll burn more calories during the workout than you would have at a steady, moderate pace. This will also trigger greater exercise post oxygen consumption (the after-burn effect), causing you to continue to burn more calories for a few hours after cycling.
Split your workouts.
If you don’t have time for a 45-minute cycling class, do two 25-minute solo sessions and you’ll burn just as many calories between the two as you would with one longer class. You might even push yourself harder during a shorter session, torching more calories. Either way, you’ll reap the after-burn effect twice in a day instead of once, allowing you to burn more calories in 24 hours.
Revamp your cycling workouts.
Do the same type of ride day after day, and your body will adapt to the activity and you won’t get as big a metabolic bang for your effort as you did initially. The solution is to regularly switch up the types of rides you do (alternating between endurance, strength, interval, and race-oriented rides), and vary the intensity, to coax your body into burning calories faster during and after the workout.
Do resistance training.The more lean muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be and the more calories you’ll burn even at rest. To build muscle outside the cycling studio, perform at least one set of strength-training exercises for each major muscle group two or three times per week.
Replenish your muscles properly.
Within an hour after your workout, consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish your muscle glycogen stores and provide amino acids for muscle repair and building. This will keep your muscles and your metabolism operating smoothly and prepare your body for your next workout.
Don’t give yourself a dietary free pass.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that since indoor cycling is such a high-intensity exercise, they can eat whatever they want and still lose weight. Not so. You need to burn an extra 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body weight.
If you’re exhausted after a hardcore cycling session, don’t give yourself permission to become a sofa spud for the rest of the day. Do this and you’ll end up compromising the calorie-burning effects of your cycling workout and your progress toward your weight-loss goal. A better approach is to move more to lose more.
For more information on our indoor cycling training, contact The FieldHouse in Sudbury.