Maximising your calorie burn on exercise bikes is crucial for optimum workout and weight loss results. But how do you do that?

Biking with the proper form, adjusting exercise intensity and speed, and practising workout diversity help optimise your bike sessions. Observing your heart rate and maintaining a consistent fitness routine contribute to efficient caloric burn, too.

Learn more about the following 7 saddle-savvy tips, so you’ll know how to apply them the next time you cycle away those calories.

Proper Cycling Form

1. Observe and Maintain the Proper Biking Form

If you’re new to using an exercise bike, it is a must to adjust its settings first, so you can pedal comfortably and maintain the correct posture. It sounds minor, but this tip makes a big difference, especially as you progress into more advanced cycling workouts.

Observing the proper biking form prevents you from putting unnecessary strain on your body. That way, you can complete your workout with maximum effort. It also protects you from injury and prevents slow workout recovery.

So, stay upright or lean forward at an angle when cycling to keep your core engaged. Relax your shoulders and avoid hunching over. These ensure you’re activating all the necessary muscles to boost calorie burn.

Don’t grip the bike handle too hard. Gripping too hard will only tire out your hands, forcing you to lean for support and engage fewer muscles. Remember: the more muscles you work, the more calories you burn.

2. Cycle in Moderation

I know this tip may sound contradictory to the fact that you burn more calories when you exert more effort. However, your body struggles when you do long or intense bike rides too soon.

You tend to shorten your workout time or skip the next day’s session to recover. Either outcome lessens your caloric output.

Maximising your calorie burn on exercise bikes means starting and progressing gradually. So, choose a cycling workout duration and intensity that suit your fitness level. You can always level things up when you’re ready.

This beginner’s guide to stationary bike workouts should help you start your journey right.

3. Try Different Cycling Workouts or Programs

A beginner-friendly cycling workout is good for the body, and regularly doing it should improve your endurance and cardiovascular health.

Over time, a monotonous routine will no longer be motivating and rewarding. As a result, you burn fewer calories, and your weight loss progress starts slowing down.

The best way to counter a fitness plateau is variation. Workout variation is doing a new exercise or physical activity to keep your body challenged and burning calories.

Introducing new workouts activates other muscle groups you might have neglected with your old routine. But how do you do that with an exercise bike? The simplest method is to stretch your cycling duration. Level up your usual 30-minute workout to a 45-minute session, for example.

Another way is to make use of your exercise bike’s built-in features. Check its pre-set workout programs and try a new one per day. Does your bike have an adjustable incline like the NordicTrack Commercial S22i? Use that to switch up your cycling angle and engage other muscles.

Changing your resistance level or cycling tempo also maximises your calorie burn on exercise bikes. Adding strength training or other cardio exercises into your weekly schedule is also a good alternative.

Standing while Cycling

4. Stand or Lift Your Butt while Cycling

Sitting upright or leaning slightly forward should be your form when cycling. But did you know you can burn more calories when you cycle and stand on your exercise bike?

Test it by cycling and slowly lifting your butt off the bike seat. Pedalling feels harder, right? It’s because the bike supports your entire body weight as you cycle while sitting down. It is less strenuous, but you also engage fewer muscles this way.

When you stand on your exercise bike, you can activate more muscles, particularly in your core and upper body. Your muscles work harder by keeping your body upright and stable as you cycle while standing. Try this variation when you have enough leg strength.

Alternatively, maximise your calorie burn on exercise bikes by mixing up the two biking positions in one session.

5. Consider Working Out with an Air or Spin Bike

There are four common types of stationary bikes available. If maximising calorie burn on an exercise bike is among your fitness goals, spin and air types are the best.

Spin bikes are ideal if you love pedalling backwards and shifting from seated to standing positions. Construction and design-wise, a spin bike also has a lower handlebar, making it easier to lean forward and engage your core. This leaning form simulates road cycling, too. Go for spin bikes if you prefer to burn calories through extended cycling workouts.

On the other hand, air bikes suit tough workouts and riders who prefer short sessions. This bike type usually has moveable handlebars, like an elliptical, for a full-body workout. Air bikes do not have adjustable resistance levels. They automatically adjust the tension based on your pedalling speed and effort.

If you’re trying to choose between the two, this article on air vs spin bike might help you decide.

Maximising Calorie Burn on Air Exercise Bikes

6. Do HIIT Workout

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is best when maximising calorie burn on an exercise bike for a short time. HIIT pumps up your metabolism by alternating a moderate pace with bursts of heavier bike resistance or faster cadence.

The sudden shift in workout intensity significantly increases your heart rate, allowing you to burn more calories. Varying your cycling pace and exertion also triggers the after-burn effect.

After an intense workout, your body takes time to go back to its resting state. That means you continue to burn calories post-workout. However, this effect is also a downside of HIIT.

Your body needs an extended recovery period after an intense routine, so HIIT is something you cannot do day after day. You can do it twice or thrice a week between moderate exercise sessions.

Indoor cycling is a low-impact activity so you can do your HIIT cycling workouts without worrying too much about your joints.

Check out this guide to learn how to do intensity interval training on an exercise bike.

7. Wear a Heart Rate Monitor while Biking

Keeping your heart rate up is vital in maximising calorie burn on an exercise bike. But that doesn’t mean pedalling for hours on end.

You should know your heart rate zone and stay within this range when exercising to ensure you burn calories efficiently. How do you determine your heart rate zone? It depends on your age and exercise intensity.

Let’s use 35 years as an example, then do the following computations:

  1. Compute your maximum heart rate. Subtract age 35 from 220, giving you 185 as the maximum heart rate.
  2. Get your resting heart rate. Use a heart rate monitor or feel your pulse, then count the beats for 1 minute. Let’s say you got 80 beats per minute.
  3. Compute your heart rate reserve (HRR). Subtract your resting heart rate (80) from your maximum heart rate (185). That gives you 105 as your HRR.

Now, use these numbers to identify your heart rate zone based on your cycling intensity:

  • For moderate cycling: Exercise at moderate intensity is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. So, multiply your HRR (105) by 0.7 (70%) to get 73.5, then add your resting heart rate (80) and get 153.5.
  • For vigorous cycling: Exercising at high intensity is 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. So, multiply your HRR (105) by 0.85 (85%) to get 89.25, then add your resting heart rate (80) and get 169.25.

That means your heart rate monitor should display between 153.5 and 169.25 beats per minute during moderate-to-vigorous exercise.

Make sure to use the lower end of the exercise intensity range if you’re a beginner, then adjust as you build up strength.

Indoor Cycling with a Heart rate Monitor

Why Ride Exercise Bikes to Burn Calories

Riding exercise bikes is effective for burning calories. A report from Harvard Health Publishing shows that a 30-minute moderate exercise on a stationary bike burns 210-294 calories.

A 0.45 kg (1 lb) of body fat is roughly 3,500 calories. This explains why experts suggest burning around 500 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight.

A 30-minute moderate exercise on a stationary bike burns about half of your required 500-calorie deficit per day. That means that doing a regular cycling workout, eating the proper diet, and performing other daily activities can burn enough calories.

Bottom Line

There are several ways to maximise your calorie burn on an exercise bike.

As a beginner, start with learning the proper cycling form and doing workouts that match your fitness capacity. When ready, step up your routine with new variations and intense training.

Make it a habit to monitor your heart rate and stay in the calorie-burning zone. Some tips mentioned may be too advanced for you but don’t feel discouraged.

Instead, focus on performing cycling workouts that you can do and tweak later. Lastly, get a high-quality exercise bike you love using, play your favourite workout playlist, and have a good time!

Questions on Exercise Bike and Weight Loss

1. Does an exercise bike help with belly fat?

Exercise bikes are ideal machines for burning calories and weight loss. But no fitness equipment can specifically target the fat from your belly. The key to toning your stomach is to lose excess weight and fat through regular cycling and a healthy diet. With discipline and perseverance, you’ll flatten your belly in no time!

2. Is walking better than riding an exercise bike for weight loss?

Cycling or bike riding outperforms walking when it comes to calorie burn. And even if you try walking briskly or uphill, an exercise bike still burns more calories. You’ll still be burning calories and losing weight by walking, though. But it may not be the most efficient choice if you want fast and significant results.