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Your search is over. Here’s the answer:
For the average person, cycling at a moderate pace for a full hour will burn around 596 calories. That’s according to the folks at Harvard Medical School.
The more detailed answer:
Let’s dig into the data a little deeper and see what we find.
To begin, let’s sense-check the stats by comparing them with another trustworthy source: the Dept. of Health Services over at Wisconsin. Based on their data, that same person (average build) pedaling along at the same speed, uses up 563 calories every hour.
That’s perfect because we now have two independent sources quoting similar calorific quantities.
If we now break down our initial answer above, i.e. “cycling at a moderate pace”. This is defined as being cycling outdoor on smooth surfaces such as paved roads. Going at a speed of more than 12mph and less than 13.9mph (19 to 22 kph). So, it excludes doing jumps on your BMX or cruising down trails on your full-suspension mountain bike. These are usually more strenuous activities and so will normally burn more calories per hour.
Keep mindful that, if you go at faster speeds than this you’ll burn extra calories for every hour (great news!) But, if you go slower, you’ll likewise burn fewer.
A person of average build is defined as someone who weighs around 155 Lbs or 70 Kg. Heavier than this and a person will burn more calories per hour. Lighter than this and they’ll, correspondingly, burn less.
Is it possible to burn extra calories per hour of cycling?
Yes! There are plenty of ways to push the numbers.
Using physical exercise to burn up calories is (sadly) only half the answer to losing body fat though. It needs to be combined with a solid long-term program of sensible eating. Bear in mind that, if you have any kind of health concerns or medical condition, then you should definitely discuss your plans with your physician / appropriate health professional first.
That aside, cycling is a great way of burning through calories, and there are a ton of different ways to really increase your burn rate and get rid of those calories as you enjoy your bike rides.
Let’s have a look at a few of the easiest ones now:
Freewheeling is for Freeloaders
Consider it carefully and you’ll soon realize that you burn calories when you pedal. You don’t burn calories when you don’t pedal. It’s obvious, but there are lots of occasions when we’re not pedaling: You might be cruising slowly up to a red light (hoping it’ll change before you get there). Maybe freewheeling (and probably going, “Yippeeeee”) down a slope. Or, simply taking a well-deserved breather.
Don’t be a Freeloader! Instead, take all opportunities to get your legs turning and the pedals spinning. If you begin by trying to turn the pedals at all times when you’re moving (there’s no need to feed in too much power to start with though). Then, when you’re ready, you can increase the amount of power and keep pushing the pedals all the time. This is a great way to increase the calories you’re burning.
Road biker? Go off-road
If you look at the date you’ll see that the calories used by road cyclists are much less than those used by mountain bikers. It’s a difference of about 6% for a cyclist of average build.
And that makes an awful lot of sense, when you think about it, as cycling up and down mountains is generally a more full-body workout. Riders throw themselves (and their bodies around) as they shoot up and down the trails. In contrast, road bike riding tends to be much more steady, with the legs of the rider doing most work whilst the rest of their body is just helping to balance on the bike.
So, if you can engage more muscles (for example with more aggressive mountain bike riding), you’ll burn more calories.
Seize the day
If you’re on the bike (and pedaling) you’ll be using calories. So the more time you can get when you’re on your bike, the more calories you’ll be using. It’s simple really!
If you commute by car, bus or train at the moment, why don’t you think about starting to get to work by bike?
For example, let’s assume that your workplace is 30mins away. You go there Monday through Friday. If you leave the car at home and instead do that 1hr round trip journey on your bike for those 5 days, you’ll burn nearly 3000 calories more. And that’s additional to any cycling you might do on the weekend. Wow!
Don’t be a loner
We’ve all been there. You’re facing a steep climb and trying to motivate yourself to pedal up it. Or it’s a freezing cold winter’s morning and you’re struggling to get out of bed to go for your bike ride.
But, if you’ve made a commitment to go cycling with somebody else, then it’s a completely different matter. Then you’ve got no choice! You have to get out of bed on chilly mornings and you have to pedal hard to keep pace with them on the steepest of climbs.
And what does that add up to? It gets you that bit closer to your goals by burning those calories at a faster rate.
Get your speed on
Earlier we looked at the calories you’d use up if you were to go bicycling at a moderate pace of between 12 and 13.9 mph. What happens when you go faster?
Ok, so if you go a little faster (14-15.9 mph) you’ll use 25% more calories for every hour you cycle. Can you go faster? Well if you go at 16 to 19 mph you use 50% more calories (vs a speed of 12-13.9 mph). 20mph plus and you’ll use over double the calories for every hour you’re cycling!
Can cycling change your body? Yes, and this is what that can look like:
You might be wondering what it’s possible to achieve by cycling and how this can feed into your fat-loss goals.
If so, have a watch of this YouTube and see the way that one woman has completely changed her body (and also her life) by bike riding. It’s really incredible to see and is proof that anyone can achieve the same.
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