Using your heart rate as a weight loss workout guide makes your program more purposeful and effective.

Your heart should beat at a specific rate to ensure you burn the maximum calories every cycling session. Also, cycling based on your heart rate zone prevents you from working out aimlessly or beyond your fitness level. More importantly, it keeps you on track so that you can see weight loss results.

But how do you train within your heart rate zone exactly? Read on to learn more about this precise and objective fitness metric.

What is Zone-Based Indoor Cycling Training?

Training zones generally pertain to workout intensities or levels, which can be light, moderate, or intense.

Each zone represents your body’s reaction to the activity you are doing, like indoor cycling. It’s like structuring your workouts based on science. Selecting the correct zone depends on your goals.

Specifically, there are ideal training zones for a person trying to lose weight and a professional cyclist training for a competition.

There are several ways to do zone-based indoor cycling. For instance, you can use your cycling power or cadence as your gauge. There’s also a method where you use your perceived exertion.

On the other hand, the heart rate zone primarily relies on your age and the reading on your heart monitor. Generally, aside from helping you achieve your fitness goals, training zones help you balance body stress and recovery.

It prevents you from overtraining, often leading to demotivation, pain, and injury. It also lets you know whether you are exercising too lightly or hard.

Heart Rate Zone Training for Weight Loss

Why is heart rate zone-based indoor cycling training good for weight loss?

Your heart rate is a good indicator of workout intensity as it reacts to exercise factors like body temperature, hydration level, fatigue, and stress.

An increase in these factors signals the heart to beat faster, use energy, and burn calories. The quicker the heart rate goes, the more calories you burn, the better for your weight loss plan.

Dr Yee, a cardiologist practising at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore, further explained this using the fat-burning zone theory.

In an article, The Truth of the Fat Burning Zone, he stressed that working out at higher intensities is ideal for weight loss. That’s because intense exercises encourage the body to tap on your fat storage.

When your body efficiently burns glycogen and fat calories, your total caloric burn rate increases, which is good for overall weight loss.

How Do You Train within the Heart Rate Zone?

Here are the steps to start heart rate zone-based indoor cycling for weight loss.

1. Compute your maximum heart rate.

The first thing to do is to know your maximum heart rate. This rate represents your maximum number of heartbeats during activity or exercise.

To compute, subtract your age from 220. So, let’s say you are 35 years old.

That means your maximum heart rate is 220 minus 35, which gives us 185.

2. Determine your resting heart rate.

The resting heart rate is your heart activity when you are not exercising. The typical resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

However, athletes may have resting heart rates lower than this because of their fitness level.

For accuracy, use a wearable fitness tracker or pulse monitor to count your heartbeat for 1 minute.

Let’s say you got 80 beats per minute for sample computation purposes.

Fitness Tracker for Monitoring Heart Rate

3. Compute your heart rate reserve.

Your heart rate reserve is an indicator of your fitness level. This explains why fitness experts and cardiac rehab programs often use this to identify the ideal workout intensity.

Heart rate reserve varies from person to person. But generally, the higher the number, the better.

So, how do you compute for it?

Subtract your resting heart rate from your max heart rate. Using our samples, that is 80 minus 185, which gives you 105 as your heart rate reserve.

4. Identify your ideal heart rate zone.

Here are five heart rate zones with their corresponding percentage of max heart rate and suggested durations.

1Active recovery0-68%N/A
2Endurance69-83%3+ hours
3Tempo84-94%20 minutes to 1 hour
4Threshold95-105%10-30 minutes
5VO2 maxMore than 106%3-8 minutes

What do these numbers mean? Let’s assume you can allocate 20 minutes to 1 hour for exercise today.

That means you’ll be training at Zone 3 Tempo.

Now, the 84-94% heart rate determines your heart rate during your Tempo workout.

We use this equation: multiply heart rate reserve by 84-94% (the exact percentage depends on your capacity), then add your resting heart rate.

Using our example, that would be 105 multiplied by 0.84 (for 84%) plus 80, which gives us 168.

This total means your heart rate monitor should display 168 beats per minute during your Tempo zone-based indoor cycling exercise.

Work Out within Ideal Heart Rate Zones

Which heart rate zone is best for weight loss?

Here’s a brief description of each zone to help you choose:

  • Active recovery. This one is easy, with minimal pressure on the pedals. You can breathe and speak while pedalling. It’s best for warming up, cooling down, or recovering after a hard cycling session or race.
  • Endurance. Speaking is still possible, but breathing is slightly heavier. At this zone, you can cycle for extended periods. It’s best for endurance training and boosting muscular fitness.
  • Tempo. Speaking and breathing are significantly harder in this zone. It’s best for general fitness improvement, aerobic capacity build-up, and weight loss.
  • Threshold. This zone is challenging and slightly uncomfortable. It requires more concentration and determination. Threshold workouts usually have short intervals of work and recovery. Like Tempo, this zone is best for general fitness and weight loss.
  • VO2 max. A very challenging zone that builds up lactic acid and tires you out fast. It calls for your maximum effort that will be hard to maintain. People thread this zone to improve their athletic performance, speed, or anaerobic capacity.

Anyone can try a workout plan with a mix of these zones.

However, if your goal is weight loss, your heart rate zone-based indoor cycling training should focus more on Tempo and Threshold levels. Either option burns lots of calories.

As they have a shorter duration, you can steer clear of workout fatigue and stick to a consistent schedule, which is crucial to weight loss.

What Does a Heart Rate Zone-Based Indoor Cycling Session Look Like?

Now that you know your ideal heart rate training zones, the final step is to incorporate them into your cycling workouts.

Here are two samples to get you started.

Zone-Based Cycling Session

1. 45-Minute Tempo Cycling Workout

5 minutes (warm-up)Zone 1; very light cycling with a target heart rate of 0-68%
15 minutesZone 2; light cycling with a target heart rate of 69-83%
15 minutesZone 3; moderate cycling with a target heart rate of 84-94%
5 minutesZone 4; vigorous cycling with a target heart rate of 95-105%
5-10 minutes (cool-down)Zone 1; very light cycling with a target heart rate of 0-68%

2. 25-Minute Interval Threshold Cycling Workout

5 minutes (warm-up)Zone 1; very light cycling with a target heart rate of 0-68%
1 minuteZone 3; moderate cycling with a target heart rate of 84-94%
30 secondsZone 4; vigorous cycling with a target heart rate of 95-105%
2 minutesZone 1; very light cycling with a target heart rate of 0-68%
 Repeat the Zone 3-4-1 cycle four times more
5 minutes (cool-down)Zone 1; very light cycling with a target heart rate of 0-68%

Always start and end your weight loss cycling session at Zone 1 to warm up your muscles and bring your heart rate back to normal.

Then, switch to Zones 2, 3, and 4 to add variety and boost the heart rate. Boost your cycling speed or resistance level to make your heart pump faster.

You can also incorporate these tips to maximise your calorie burn during cycling.

Conclusion on Heart Rate Zone-Based Indoor Cycling

An exercise bike is an excellent cardio machine that helps you achieve your health goals.

Consider doing heart rate zone-based indoor cycling training if your goal is to achieve weight loss. This training technique gives your workout sessions more focus and direction, so you’ll burn optimum calories.

You’ll see the fruits of your labour in no time if you do it regularly. Just remember, working out within specific training zones can be difficult and exhausting at first. So, go easy and progress once your fitness capacity improves.

Lastly, get a high-quality exercise bike that feels comfortable and can withstand your heart-pumping workouts.

Other Questions on Indoor Cycling and Weight Loss

1. Is exercise bike workout duration crucial to effective weight loss?

Indoor exercise bike workout duration is a vital weight loss component. Generally, the more time you exercise, the more calories you burn, the better for your fitness goal. A 30-minute exercise bike workout duration is the standard for most fitness programs. However, you can also do a shorter or longer exercise routine than this. Observing workout consistency is more important.

2. Can HIIT indoor cycling help me lose weight?

You’re heading in the right direction if you start doing HIIT on your indoor cycling bike for optimum weight loss. With the stamina-building abilities of HIIT and the cardio impact of an exercise bike, you’ll burn maximum calories in less time. It’s also the perfect workout to keep your metabolism up, burn fat, and avoid fitness plateaus.