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  1. #1
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    Cycling specifically for weight loss

    Hey all, I just joined the group a couple days ago and have been devouring all the past threads so far. I was wondering about cycling for weight loss as opposed to training for an event or for increasing VO2 max or anything like that. I've been reading that for weight loss, a long, ambling, meandering pace is better than a shorter nose-to-the-handlebars sprint till you die. What is your experience with this? I tend to be a "some is good, more is better, too much is just right" guy when it comes to exercise. As a result, I'm relatively fit for a guy who needs to lose almost 100 pounds. If I don't have a good, conscientous reason to hold back, I'll probably end up going balls-to-the-wall as long as my legs can handle it.

    Thanks,

    John

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jinker's Avatar
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    If you have unlimited amounts of time to exercise, go out and ride as long as you can at the pace you can maintain.

    However, if you've only got one or two hours to spend exercising a few times a week, go ahead, go balls to the wall. Be sensible, build up to it, don't hurt yourself.

    A half hour of high intensity workout can beat an hour of low intensity because your metabolism will stay elevated for a longer period after a high intensity workout. That's how you can lose weight with anaerobic exercise like lifting weights, it's not the calories you burn DURING the exercise, it's all the ones you burn afterwards.

    Also, if you can incorporate biking into your daily routine (commute, errands etc) that's great. I usually ride easy into work (around 25 minutes) so I don't get terribly sweaty. On the way home I'll do sprints to get my heart rate up, and generally push the pace. Adding 15 minutes to your ride on the way home can really add up as well, without putting a huge dent in your routine, since you're already on the bike and will probably change/shower once you get home!

    Keep us posted on what you end up trying out and how it goes!

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Caincando1's Avatar
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    Here's my 02 being a guy in your situation that needs to lose 100lbs. I've noticed that the weight loss came easy till the muscles started building up. I've dropped 25lbs but have stagnated. I really don't seem to be losing weight per the scale. But I'm losing fat and building muscle. My legs are thickening up and geting harder. I just wish my gut would do the same. It gets discouraging at times when I jump on the scale after busting my butt and see little or no weight loss. But I have to just keep pumping out the miles and watch what I eat and know that I may not be getting lighter, but I'm getting leaner.

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    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    I've been told that the most effective way to burn fat is a long steady exercise at 70% of your max heart rate. That's all fine and good, but I just can't seem to do that . I'm right there with you, pounding away at the pedals every chance I get. I know my HR is probably in the 75-85% range, probably sometimes in the high nineties.. but it's so fun!

    But.. I'm all about the muscle build. I have what by all accounts is a "freakish" build, even when I was very large I was able to do things that nobody thought possible. When I was younger, the minute I showed up to high school for orientation the football coach had me on the field. I'm simply a big muscular guy, and now I'm finding that build helps me attack hills with ferocity and glee.

    What I was told by one personal trainer is that in the end it's all about what you will do day after day. Because, really, no matter what you are doing it is doing good for your body. You could be going at 20% for 2 miles, and that's still better than sitting in a chair in front of the TV!

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    I imagine that Tom will probably jump in with more precise numbers, but if you have the time, you will see beter weight/fat loss by spending longer amounts of time at lower aerobic effort levels, 65-80% of lactate threshold heart rate if memory serves. I know that you can get excellent results with certain types of interval based workout for weight loss but I don't know the exact specifics of the interval efforts/times etc.

    Paul

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    And he's single... jmarkley710's Avatar
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    Buy a heart rate monitor. What feels like 90% of your heart rate actually isn't. It's kinda surprising. I picked up a Polar FS1 the other day and mounted it to my bike. I'm finding that a nice mix of spinning cadence and a consistent heart rate work well. A consistent 50-70% of your MAXIMUM heart rate will burn the most fat. Still you will be building cardiovascular strength and your respiratory system. When you pass into the 70%-90% you switch to the anaerobic stage. When in this stage lactic acid buildup takes over and starts eating muscle fiber and burning present calories vs. fat reserves. You still burn fat no matter what stage you are in it's just a matter of what's efficient. I'm sure Tom has his way as well. For what it's worth my opinion is Heart Rate Monitors are the way to go. The Polar FS1 wrist watch and chest strap can be had for $49 at Wal-Mart right now if you want one right away. The one thing that is nice is it will let you keep a constant vs. the up and down heart rate spikes of getting tired.

    P.S. Good example is that when I used my heart rate monitor the first time I made a 14 mile ride that I usually make. There was a one mile per hour increase in my avg speed. But... using the monitor I kept myself between 155-165 BPM. And didn't cause any spikes like I usually do. It just raises awareness. Normally I would spike then slow down and recover.

  7. #7
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    I have lost 85 lbs now and the times I saw the most weight come off is when I maintain my HR between 60 and 70%. I lately have been all about gaining speed and power, my HR has been in the 75-85% range most of the time, and on a few rides never below 85%. While I have been able to really increase my speed and power, the weight loss has really subsided. Once I can start riding again after my injury heals, I will have to take a slow pace which should keep me in the prime zone for remove my excess weight. I will have to make a concerted effort to maintain my HR in the right zones.
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    Thanks for the input guys. I assume there are max heart rate calculators on the web somewhere? With the cycling, I'm more concerned about burning fat than gaining any muscle. I've got a nice weight set at home, and ever since high school football have been lifting like a powerlifter/olympic weightlifter. I'm not looking to increase my muscle mass with cycling, but I certainly don't want to lose the muscle I've already built. How do the chest strap heart rate monitors work for big guys?

    Right now, I'm usually lifting after I put my daughter to bed, from 8 - 9 or so. My powerlifting routines only have me lifting a couple times per week, so I was planning on just biking during that time on the days I don't lift, and maybe take some longer trips on the weekends. And I was hoping that biking a little later in the day would let the temperature/humidity start to come down as well.

  9. #9
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quick and dirty Max HR Calculation: 200- your age= Max HR

    Max HR*.65= Max aerobic HR
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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    Senior Member Caincando1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by besserheimerpha
    Thanks for the input guys. I assume there are max heart rate calculators on the web somewhere? With the cycling, I'm more concerned about burning fat than gaining any muscle. I've got a nice weight set at home, and ever since high school football have been lifting like a powerlifter/olympic weightlifter. I'm not looking to increase my muscle mass with cycling, but I certainly don't want to lose the muscle I've already built. How do the chest strap heart rate monitors work for big guys?

    Right now, I'm usually lifting after I put my daughter to bed, from 8 - 9 or so. My powerlifting routines only have me lifting a couple times per week, so I was planning on just biking during that time on the days I don't lift, and maybe take some longer trips on the weekends. And I was hoping that biking a little later in the day would let the temperature/humidity start to come down as well.
    You might not, if you have a lot of muscle mass to beging with. But just like any exersise your using your muscles hard and they will get stonger. Nothing wrong with that.

  11. #11
    Senior Member JumboRider's Avatar
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    well

    At 60-70% HRM the highest percentage of calories burned, after available fuel, will be from fat.

    At 70-85% HRM you will burn more calories than at 60-70% but the calories burned will be taken more from protein stores than fat stores.

    You always have to remember the body will use food/fuel that is available before returning body stores to food. I try to run at 60-70% of HRM because I find that I can go longer and consistently return to the exercise time and again. When I exercise at 70-85% HRM I feel used up after the exercise and sore the next day or days. I do exercise at 70-85% at times, but this is more for strength/muscle building. I also do not do the anaerobic exercise as often as the aerobic exercise.

    Another point.
    While aerobic exercise will help your body grow the muscles needed to accomplish the task at hand, it is a slow build. Anaerobic exercise breaks down muscle forcing it to rebuild stronger than before. More muscle = more calories burned at rest. So both forms of exercise are needed.

  12. #12
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    Calories In - Calories Used = Weight Change

    Calories Used consists of that needed to lay like a slug, do the normal daily activites and your exercise.

    Ride hard and fast or long and slow. Watch what you eat.

    Easiest thing in the world is to keep a little crib sheet of what you've eaten and how you've burned it off. It doesn't have to be exact, down to the calorie detail. Round things off and make it simple, to the point you can almost do the math in your head.

    Plenty of resources out there for calculating, in general, calories burned for a given activity. I know I burn, on average, about a 1000 calories per hour of riding. I usually set myself a daily minimum for calorie defecit, so if I burn 4000 calories on a long ride, I'll eat a bit more that day.

    Weight loss is about the long term average, not the Saturday afternoon BBQ
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  13. #13
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JumboRider
    At 60-70% HRM the highest percentage of calories burned, after available fuel, will be from fat.

    At 70-85% HRM you will burn more calories than at 60-70% but the calories burned will be taken more from protein stores than fat stores.
    Actually, the shift is to a larger percentage of carbohydrate, probably in the form of muscle glycogen, not a higher percentage of protein.

    The "fat-burning zone" isn't a total myth, but it is misleading, for a couple of reasons. First, as others have pointed out, you're talking about a larger percentage of calories burned in the fomr of fat, but from a smaller total. Second, even when you get away from percentages and start talking about absolute numbers of calories, people tend to forget that it takes more than double the calories to burn a gram of fat than it takes to burn a gram of carb or protein (9 as opposed to 4). Exercise equipment manufacturers love to print the "fat-burning zone" graphics all over their gear, because people eat it up with a spoon: they're being told to take it easy, and they love that. But what you really care about is losing fat, and if you want to maximize fat loss, you need to do the numbers and calculate out the actual number of grams of fat that you'd expect to burn -- not just look at your HRM and say, "Great, I'm in the 'fat-burning zone'!"

    What are the numbers? Well...one study found that an individual exercising for 60 minutes at 50% burned a total of 480 calories, 50% of which was fat, or 240 calories, divided by 9 equals 26.6 grams of fat. At 70%, the same individual expended 660 calories over 60 minutes, approximately 40% of which was fat, or 264 calories = 29.3 grams. So that's an example that gives the lie to the message that some people are getting from the "fat-burning zone", which is that exercising at higher intensity will lead to less fat loss. In fact, all other things being equal, exercising at higher intensity will, of course, lead to more fat loss.

    Naturally, all other things aren't equal. People, particularly those who are significantly overweight and have not been aerobically active, aren't able to simply notch up their intensity in the name of "more is more". Seriously overweight people need to be cautious about the duration of their exercise, the intensity of their exercise, and also the nature of their exercise -- being out of shape and sedentary means a much increased risk of injury, not just because of weight but because of lack of balance and coordination. Bicycling is relatively safe on that count, but you need to be careful about duration and intensity to begin with. Also, perhaps the best message to take away from this thread is to learn as you go. There have been several great comments from people about what worked for them, discovered through trial and error. That's really where you come up with a successful program: taking the theory and trying it out, and looking at your own empirical results.

    I'll close with one final thought for OP: understood that you want to maximize your fat loss, but also keep in mind that you didn't put the weight on in a few months, and you won't take it off in a few months. Commit yourself to the long haul, and you'll do fine.

  14. #14
    Healthy and active twobikes's Avatar
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    If you would like some literature to inspire and educate you further, click on this link and download Cycling and Health. It pretty much follows what has been suggested above, but adds some research data. The original document was in German (also available for download at the link above), but has been translated into English. It is not the smoothest English, but understandable.

    A recent eye-opening experience for me was to answer the 20 questions at this link. They made me take a hard look at my relationship to food. I am making some changes in the way I think about what I eat, and that will help me get past some weight loss hurdles.

    Tom said maximum heart rate is 200 minus your age. Everything I have seen says 220 minus your age. Has something changed?
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    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat
    I'll close with one final thought for OP: understood that you want to maximize your fat loss, but also keep in mind that you didn't put the weight on in a few months, and you won't take it off in a few months. Commit yourself to the long haul, and you'll do fine.
    This is probably some of the best advice ever. It's impossible and UNhealthy for weight to fly off, in fact most people I know who have lost a significant amount in a short period of time have gained most of it back... in a short period of time. You have to retrain yourself about everything, and the best way to do that is SLOWLY.

    My best advice is to do long intervals between weigh-ins (some do weekly, I'm stepping it up to monthly), get a consistent exercise routine, and get a consistent nutrition routine. If you get all those in, you are destined to lose the weight.

  16. #16
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twobikes
    If you would like some literature to inspire and educate you further, click on this link and download Cycling and Health. It pretty much follows what has been suggested above, but adds some research data. The original document was in German (also available for download at the link above), but has been translated into English. It is not the smoothest English, but understandable.

    A recent eye-opening experience for me was to answer the 20 questions at this link. They made me take a hard look at my relationship to food. I am making some changes in the way I think about what I eat, and that will help me get past some weight loss hurdles.

    Tom said maximum heart rate is 200 minus your age. Everything I have seen says 220 minus your age. Has something changed?
    Looking back....TYPO, you are correct! I gotta proofread more!
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    Senior Member JumboRider's Avatar
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    Lil Brown Bat,

    Great post as always.
    Actually, the shift is to a larger percentage of carbohydrate, probably in the form of muscle glycogen, not a higher percentage of protein.
    A much better way to say what I was trying to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat
    I'll close with one final thought for OP: understood that you want to maximize your fat loss, but also keep in mind that you didn't put the weight on in a few months, and you won't take it off in a few months. Commit yourself to the long haul, and you'll do fine.
    Understood. Right now I'd be happy with a a consistent and permanent 5 pounds per month. I think this is both a reasonable and healthy rate. Of course this probably won't happen as much as I continue to lift, but for me right now, just having my clothes fit noticeably better by the end of the year would be great.

    And thanks again everyone for the input. This is really a great resource, and an inspiration to me personally to see people "like me" who are SUCCEEDING at managing their weight.

  19. #19
    Mooooooo JustBarno's Avatar
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    Some great advice in this thread. One thing that stuck out for me was to take things slow. I know there are plenty of people on this forum that have lost more weight than I, but I'm pretty good at it, and at least decent at keeping it off.

    I dropped from 280 down to 190 over the course of a year and a half, and wow did it change my life. I cleaned up my diet one step at a time, and I slowly added exercise until I met my goal. The great part is that you don't shock yourself into hating your new diet or exercise routine, and as you see the results of each small change, it motivates you to make more small changes.

    4 years later, I got an amazing girlfriend who likes to cook delicious but not so healthy foods, and a job that demands silly amounts of commitment from me. As a result, I am back to 230 lbs now, but I caught myself in bad habits before it was too late, and I'm going through the same process of eliminating bad habits and adding good ones one at a time.

    This time around should be a lot easier And I've learned from my "slip" too, hopefully never to get cocky and allow such a mistake again.

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    My main problem is losing my gut. im 6'2" and around 250. I think that im pretty healthy bc i work in the scalding heat all day. i just want to improve my look. just started biking and doing around 3 miles a day to start. My main goal is to get around 210-ish. Im starting to eat less and cutting the soft drinks. im starting to workout as well, mostly sit-ups and push-ups. dont have any weights to work with.Any other ideas??

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    Mooooooo JustBarno's Avatar
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    Tech4Man,

    For you, my guess is that diet will make the biggest difference. Some people are inactive, and that is thier problem, but for those who move around a lot, things like cutting the fries and sodas make all the difference in the world.

    Just keep improving your diet, whole grains, low fat, many meals, small portions, healthy snacks, and in no time you'll be shedding the belly.

  22. #22
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tech4man
    My main problem is losing my gut. im 6'2" and around 250. I think that im pretty healthy bc i work in the scalding heat all day. i just want to improve my look. just started biking and doing around 3 miles a day to start. My main goal is to get around 210-ish. Im starting to eat less and cutting the soft drinks. im starting to workout as well, mostly sit-ups and push-ups. dont have any weights to work with.Any other ideas??
    Yes. Accept the fact that spot reduction (exercising to reduce fat in a particular body area) doesn't work, and that when you get your bodyfat down, the fat from your gut will go as well. And whatever you do, don't even think about liposuction. Oh, such a very bad idea.

  23. #23
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    I wouldnt do lipo, even if i did im broke as can be. ive known that i cant lose just my stomach. My main thing is that i love food. but im working on that. im getting all the fatty stuff out of the house. Whats a good calorie intake to stay around? ~1500 maybe.

  24. #24
    Mooooooo JustBarno's Avatar
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    1500 is probably a bit low at 250 lbs with activity and workouts. Maybe 2000? In prime shape, with a good workout schedule at 200 lbs I was eating 2500 calories and losing weight.

    If you eat more, smaller meals with the same number of total calories, your stomach will shrink, and you wont be able to gorge yourself, your metabolism will stay high more consistently, and you will feel like you ate more.

    That, and replacing empty calories like sodas and the like will go a long way, more so than even working out. It sure did for me!

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    Usually i drink one soft drink with dinner and thats about it. and its about to change. ill try 2000. thx JB. Also, should i start taking some vitamins. If so, which ones?
    Last edited by Tech4man; 06-27-07 at 12:46 PM.

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