Exercise bikes are up there with the most used pieces of cardio machines you can get in and out of the gym. They are tried and tested cardio warriors, and there’s a lot more you can do with them than you might think. The big question though is how much can an exercise bike help with fat loss?

When looking at fat loss in any exercise, you need to know the ins and outs of both the exercise and the equipment. The exercise bike is no different. Now, although the exercise movement seems universal, the machines that you use will present variety in the range of exercises! Confusing, we know, but awesome.

Equipment

Close up of a man suing an exercise bike

So, the first thing to look at is the type of bike you’ll be using. There are three main styles. They will all affect your workouts, and therefore your fat loss, in different ways. Although they all focus on your lower body leg movements centred around peddling the machine, the position of your body and the varying resistance that the machine offers has a significant impact on your results.

Recumbent bikes, for example, have the lowest intensity and therefore overall will not be as effective at burning a high number of calories in a short amount of time. An indoor club bike will do the absolute opposite and be ideal for HIIT training, but may not be as good for a prolonged period, or as comfortable. Upright bikes seem to present the best of both worlds, but again, a lot of it is down to your preference. Overall, they are all excellent cardio exercise and useful for burning fat over time.

Exercise

Close up of an exercise bike in use

The kind of exercise that you’re doing on the machine also has a massive impact on how it's going to affect your weight. Calories burned overall will have a bigger impact, but fat loss and weight loss are quite different. Here are a couple of ways to investigate.

HIIT

HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is one of the most intensive and highest calorie burning exercise styles there are. It blasts a huge number of calories in a short amount of time, but it is incredibly hard work. It has its pros and cons, but it is ultimately time effective and does what it promises.

LISS

LISS or Low-Intensity Steady State exercise is radically the opposite. It means working out at a much lower intensity, around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate rather than way higher as it is with HIIT, and doing it over a long period.

This burns fewer calories than HIIT does, but one of the best things that it does do is burn a lot of fat. Per calorie burned, it’s the highest fat burner there is. The only issue is that it doesn’t burn as many calories overall. That’s where you need to find the balance.

Resistance

Even when you know what it is that you intend to do and what equipment to use, you’re not even close to concluding. The level you're working at is affected by more than just the method you're using. Resistance is another crucial factor in how an exercise bike affects fat loss. Believe it or not, it can change the game! If you want to compete with exercises like rowing and cross training, then you need to make sure that you’re using the resistance that’s going to boost the intensity. Higher resistance means that you are putting in more effort, thus burning off more calories. However, as it is more tiring to use the bike with a high resistance setting, you might find yourself growing tired quicker and thus not completing your workout. It’s a delicate balance.

Frequency & time

Close up of a woman using an exercise bike

Time is the final and potentially the most significant factor for you to look at before you can answer the question. The more time you spend on your bike, the more fat you are going to burn. But it's important to remember not to overtrain, as you run the risk of losing some muscle mass.

This doesn’t just stop at your workout time either! The number of workouts that you fit into your week also has a massive impact on the results. But while it’s a lot harder to overtrain on an exercise bike than it is on other cardio machines like treadmills or rowing machines, it’s still doable and can lead to some damage.

Overall

When we look at all these points, using a bike for fat loss does seem complex, and it is. There’s more to an exercise bike than meets the eye, and that is a good thing. It means that you can really personalise your training to suit your needs and your goals.

You can do what’s right for you and reach your own goals! If you workout correctly and make sure that you’re eating right alongside it, your exercise bike can be an awesome tool to shred fat to smithereens.

Exercise.co.uk Exercise Bikes


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.