How to Bicycle Your Way to Fitness

Three Methods:Assess the Suitability of BicyclingSet Bicycle Fitness GoalsUse Variety in Cycling Training

Bicycling can help you build muscle and lose fat, and is an ideal form of exercise for people trying to improve fitness at all levels of ability. Follow the steps below to get fit by bicycling.

Method 1
Assess the Suitability of Bicycling

Bicycling is not necessarily the optimal exercise option for all people. If you lack balance and coordination skills, if you live in a climate with extreme weather or temperature, or if you have certain knee problems, you may wish to choose an alternative technique for achieving physical fitness.

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    Discuss your health with a physician or fitness expert. A health professional will be able to determine whether your current physical injuries or your medical history may contraindicate bicycling as a fitness strategy.
    • Unless you have trouble with your knees or a problem with vertigo, bicycling may be appropriate for fitness and weight management goals. If you do suffer from balance problems, using a stationary bike may resolve the issue, though extra caution will still be advisable.
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    Determine your fitness needs. If you are hoping to achieve significant upper body strength and toning, bicycling will probably need to be combined with other exercises. However, if your goal is low-impact cardio fitness, weight loss, a toned core, and a strong lower body, then bicycling will likely meet your fitness needs.
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    Determine what type of bicycle you will use. Depending on the climate of your region, your financial ability to purchase a high-quality bicycle or gym membership, and your preferences for the type of biking you would like to do, your needs will change.
    • Road bikes and mountain bikes serve different purposes and will allow you to cover different types of terrain with varying degrees of ease. If you anticipate primarily riding in your neighborhood or on paved roads or trails, purchase a road bike. If you anticipate climbing hills or biking on rough trails, a mountain bike will be more appropriate.
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    • If the weather or climate of your region does not permit outdoor cycling year-round, you may wish to invest in a stationary bike for your home, a gym membership for a facility that has multiple stationary bikes, or a piece of equipment that you can mount your regular bicycle to in order to cycle indoors without a regular stationary bike.
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Method 2
Set Bicycle Fitness Goals

If you want to get fit by bicycling, you must set specific and realistic goals. Bicycling can be a convenient, safe activity that can help you get fit over time when used properly. Just like any other fitness program, however, bicycling requires a commitment and a targeted fitness goal to enable you to optimize your health benefits.

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    Make a time commitment. Commit to at least 150 minutes of bicycle exercise each week in order to obtain fitness benefits, particularly for weight loss. Split your exercise over at least 3 days each week and stay in motion the entire time you are on the bike.
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    Set bike-related achievement goals. Consider setting a distance, miles per hour, or physical route goal to work toward; this will help give direction to your routines and will help you know when you have realized your initial fitness goals.
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    Aim for target heart rates. If your fitness goals include controlling blood pressure or blood glucose levels, strengthening your heart, or losing weight, invest in a heart monitor or use a stationary bike with the ability to track your heart rate. This will enable you to work out safely while also ensuring that you are getting enough of a challenge with your fitness plan.
    • If you have heart health problems, discuss your target heart rate for exercise with a physician. It is not safe for anyone to remain at the maximum target heart rate for extended periods of time, so alternate between elevated and maximum heart rates during exercise according to the advice of a health or fitness professional.
    • Your target heart rate will be based on your age, health status, current weight, and fitness goals, and will change gradually as you become more physically fit.
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    Customize your training plan for weight loss or muscle strength. Bicycling can help with multiple fitness goals.
    • If you are trying to achieve weight loss by bicycling, your regimen will primarily include cardio workouts. Your plan will include significant periods of breathless exercise, as well as interval training to burn more calories.
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    • If you are trying to build muscle strength and balance by bicycling, your regimen will primarily include resistance workouts. Your plan will include routes and settings that are difficult to pedal, requiring you to build leg strength and balance, since you will be moving more slowly. The extra force required of your muscles to push the bicycle against greater levels of resistance will gradually increase your strength.
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    Take advantage of unique bicycling opportunities. Achieving your weekly total for bicycling time can be easy if you use a bike to commute to work, run errands, or spend leisure time with family and friends. Consider working bicycling into vacation sightseeing, weekend activities with the kids, volunteer activities through races for charity, and “green” initiative challenges at work or school.

Method 3
Use Variety in Cycling Training

Regardless of the exercise regimen you use, variety is essential for the maximum fitness benefit. Choosing a range of challenges will allow you to improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, improve balance, and lose weight by bicycling. This may be made simple by taking advantage of all of the options on programmable stationary bikes or by choosing different routes and distances for outdoor biking.

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    Vary the degree of difficulty. Do not push yourself to your physical limit with each workout. Instead, try interval training, distance training, and light bicycling once or twice each week to get in a variety of difficulty levels and to allow your body time to recover between stressful workouts.
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    Alternate between endurance and strength training. Switching back and forth between long distances (which require pacing and good cardiovascular health) and days of brief but intense exercise (which demands considerable muscle strength) will help build muscle and burn fat. Alternating types of training will also work the muscle groups differently to keep you from plateauing in your fitness goals.
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    Add upper body or core exercises to your routine. One of the simplest ways to get additional benefit from your bicycling fitness regimen is to add upper body or core strength training to your regimen while using a stationary bike.
    • Try bringing dumbbells to the gym to use while riding a stationary bike. Just be sure to keep your posture correct and to focus on maintaining balance and proper breathing.
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    • Resistance bands will expand the number of upper body exercises you can do while riding a stationary bike.
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    • Focus on tightening your abs and holding your shoulders in good posture while you cycle to help strengthen your core and shoulders. To work your abdominal muscles even further, place your hands behind your head and cycle slowly while twisting the upper body side to side gently, keeping abs tight.
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    • Perform flexibility exercises while cycling, such as shoulder rotations, yoga sun salutations, butterfly movements, and other movements that help tone and stretch your upper body muscles.


  • If you bike outdoors, assemble a bicycle repair kit, pack a first-aid kit, and install a holder for a water bottle before beginning your bicycling fitness routine.
  • Consider requesting advice from a physical trainer on proper upper body strength training techniques if you plan to lift weights or perform exercises while on a stationary bike.


  • Gradually work your way up to mountain biking or distance biking outdoors. Certain terrains can be very dangerous for inexperienced riders, and getting injured in a remote location can increase the risk of serious complications.
  • Do not attempt to perform upper body exercises unless you are on a stationary bike, as the motion may cause you to lose your balance or sustain a dangerous fall on a moving bike.

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Categories: Personal Fitness