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How to Increase the Number of Calories Burned Cycling

written by: Dr. Kristie Leong • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 4/16/2011

Would you like to kick your cycling workout into high gear? Find out tried and true ways to increase calories burned while cycling.

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    Cycling is one of the best all-around exercises for burning calories and staying in shape – and for many people it’s more fun to cycle than it is to walk or run, especially if you cycle outdoors. Bicycling at a speed of 12 miles per hour burns a surprising number of calories – 560, to be exact, in only 60 minutes. Are there ways to increase the calorie burned cycling – to blast away even more body fat?

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    How to Increase Calories Burned Cycling: Increase Time or Speed

    The simplest way to increase calories burned cycling is to cycle for a longer period of time. If you have the time, turn your thirty minute bike ride into a full hour ride, and you’ll double the number of calories burned during your cycling workout. If you find it difficult to stay motivated to cycle that long, join a local bicycling club where you can participate in longer rides – or find someone to bicycle with. Set goals for yourself by adding an additional fifteen minutes to your ride each week. The extra calories burned will add up over time.

    The other simple way to boost the number of calories burned is to pick up the speed. Instead of pedaling at a leisurely pace, challenge yourself to pedal as hard as you can for brief periods of time. For example, bike at your normal speed for three minutes and then as fast as you can for one minute. Go back and forth between slow cycling for three minutes and intense cycling for one minute. This type of interval training burns significantly more calories than cycling at a steady speed.

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    Add Some Resistance to Your Cycling Workout

    If you cycle indoors, increase the resistance on your stationary bike. This will cause you to work harder. Your heart will beat faster, and you’ll burn more calories. If cycling at a high resistance is too difficult for long periods of time, do interval training using variable resistance. Pedal at a low resistance for three minutes and a higher one for one minute – and alternate back and forth between the two resistances. This causes your thigh muscles to work harder, firming them and burning more calories at the same time.

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    Spend More Time Cycling

    Another way to increase the calories burned cycling is to do it more often. Find more occasions to cycle in addition to your regular workout. Instead of driving your car to run an errand, cycle instead. Imagine the extra calories you’ll burn when make a bicycle your primary form of transportation. Those extra cycling sessions really pay off.

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    Calories Burned Cycling: The Bottom Line?

    Cycling is an excellent, fat-burning workout – and there are ways to boost the calories burned even more. Give it a try.

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    References

    Exercise Physiology. Fifth edition. 2001. McArdle, Katch and Katch.

    Nutristrategies. "Calories Burned Bike Riding or Cycling"