How to lose weight on exercise bikes? The Ultimate Guide

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How To Lose Weight On Exercise Bikes

Wondering how to lose weight on exercise bikes? Here are 4 of the most powerful tools I have used to lose weight on an exercise bike.

I have spent years testing and refining these tools in order to see the best results for me and my clients. I also spent 12 hours researching ways to make riding an exercise bike even more effective in helping you lose weight and keep it off.

Most articles lack clear instructions and provide few actionable steps for how to lose weight on exercise bikes. I set out to fix this.

Here is an overview of the steps to take to lose weight on an exercise bike:

Make it Obvious
Make it Easy
Make it Satisfying!
Make it Attractive
What type of exercise bike should you get?

Always check with your doctor, medical,and healthcare professionals before starting a new fitness routine.

Keep reading to learn the steps for how to lose weight on exercise bikes.

James Clear, is the bestselling author of Atomic Habits. Clear (2018) explains if you are looking to lose weight by riding an exercise bike, you want to make this habit obvious, easy, satisfying, and attractive.

How to Lose Weight on Exercise Bikes? Make it Obvious

This person went a little overboard…one exercise bike or reminder on a sticky-note in an obvious location should do the trick

When it comes to starting and sticking to new habits, it is important not to forget. There will be plenty of other barriers. 

When we forget to do a habit, by the time we remember, we have often already committed to another plan.

If we miss our habit twice, we run the risk of completely derailing our new habit. This often makes us feel bad. And don’t you hate feeling bad?

In our busy lives, it is incredibly easy to get side-tracked or to fall into our previous routines.

We need to make our habit-reminders obvious and visible.

I led a group of 65 sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to start new, healthy habits.

To my surprise, 80% of the teenagers stuck to their new habits for 2 months or more. Some common habits were sleeping for 7 hours or more, running, drinking eight glasses of water a day, or getting to school on time.

To do this, Charles Duhigg’s suggestions to make a habit obvious. We used the following types of cues to set ourselves up for success:

  • Time
  • Emotion
  • Place
  • Proceeding action or habit
  • Person

Example for riding an exercise bike:

Time: Starting at 7am, Monday to Friday, I will be ride my exercise bike for 45 minutes.

Proceeding behavior: Tie your new habit to a ritual you already have: it could be as simple as:

  1. After my morning bathroom routine, I see the sticky note on the bathroom door that reads ‘Go create your healthy body!.”
  2. It reminds me that last night I folded my workout clothes and placed them beside the bathroom sink! I get dressed and…

Place: I go to my living room where my exercise bike is positioned in front of my TV

Emotion: I feel excited already! Yesterday morning I watched my show while exercising.  Dawson found out Joey is dating Pacey. I can’t wait to start pedaling so I can see what happens next!

Person(s): When I have finished my workout, I will post a picture of my sweaty flushed face to my encouraging accountability partners. When I get to work, my colleague also checks in and asks if I did my new habit.

How to Lose Weight on an Exercise Bike? Make it Easy

One of the wonderful things about using an exercise bike to lose weight is that it can be an incredibly easy habit to start.

If you don’t have an exercise bike, you can often find a decent one on Facebook marketplace, Walmart, or Amazon for a reasonable price. I bought my first recumbent exercise bike for $25 and used it hard for three years.

If it is raining, snowing, hot, or dark outside, you are able to pedal in the comfort and safety of your own home or gym. This makes it easy to commit to.

If you find yourself resistant to start, commit to only riding your exercise bike for 5 minutes or less.

During that time, pair your new habit with something you love to do (like reading, watching TV, online shopping, talking on the phone, or some other awesome thing)

When you are finished your habit, give yourself an extrinsic reward. Charles Duhigg, explains that ‘feel-good’ rewards can cause your brain to associate feelings of pleasure with your new habit. This can serve as a short cut to making your habit something you crave.

After a work out, why not treat yourself to something delicious like a banana, cocoa shake like this guy is about to go ham on?

Think this way seems too easy?

Compare this approach, to the person who decides to start lifting weights. On day one, she destroys herself in the gym for 2 hours, hobbles around in pain for a week, and vows to never again go to the gym.

Sound familiar?

I know – this is why you want to start easy!

To make it even easier on yourself, you may want to have a cyclist friend or personal trainer set up your exercise bike so that it fits you properly. You could also ask for some pointers to ensure your form is correct.

If you have health conditions, please check with a doctor to ensure this is a safe habit for you to start.

How to Lose Weight on an Exercise Bike? Make it Satisfying!

Sat·is·fy·ing: “giving fulfillment or the pleasure associated with this.” 

Ful·fill·ment: “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.”

In his book, Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg, explains that top performers across various industries often pair stretch goals with SMART goals.

A stretch goal is something so big that you cannot even fathom how you would achieve it. These tend to be longer-term goals. Less than being realistic, the purpose of the stretch goal is to spark your higher ambitions that will drive consistent daily actions.

How do you find your stretch goal? Grab a pen and paper and try drilling down with the following questions until you find a compelling ‘why’:

  1. Why is it important for you to lose weight on an exercise bike?
  2. Why is [insert previous answer] important to you?
  3. Why is [insert previous answer] important to you?
  4. Why is [insert previous answer] important to you?
  5. Why is [insert previous answer] important to you?

Your SMART goals are the daily actions that are:

  • Specific: Is this a clear, specific next step you can take?
  • Measurable: Is there a number or other quantifiable way to determine whether you did this or not and/or how well you did?
  • Attainable: is the accomplishment of this task based on your discipline, effort, learning of effective strategies, and willingness to get the help you need?
  • Realistic: Is there anything that might prevent you from doing this that cannot be solved through thinking ahead and taking action?
  • Time-bound: Do you know when you will start this and when you will end it?

“Progress equals happiness. If you stop growing, you’re going to be unhappy.”

 [Robbins, T, CNBC, 2017]

In order to build satisfying momentum that will get you some life-changing habits, set stretch goals paired with daily actions.

While the scale and the mirror are effective measurement tools, why not be SMARTer and give yourself multiple ways to attain those winning feelings?

Here are some examples:

  • “I rode my exercise bike for one 2 minutes longer than my last work out! WOOOO – progress!”
  • “You bet I stuck to my SMART plan and rode an extra ½ mile this session!”
  • “I squeezed in that extra work out this week just as I planned!”
  • “I burned 20 more calories than my last pedaling session…just like I said I would!!”
Losing weight is mentally tough – say nice things to yourself and celebrate those small wins to keep up the momentum

The daily habit of stepping on a scale can also be helpful. In a randomized controlled study, Dr. Steinberg et. al (2015) found that people who weighed themselves every day lost 3x more weight than people who did not [1].

How to Lose Weight on an Exercise Bike? Make it Attractive

Having a clear and compelling stretch goal and  ‘why’ is an important and bold move. This alone can transform your perception of an otherwise boring habit, such as riding an exercise bike, into a sexy step towards sculpting the body of your dreams.

Your language colors your perception.

I first realized this when I got in the habit of begrudgingly telling myself that “I still have to work out this evening.”

Viewing my workout as yet another obligation after a long day of work drained my motivation.

To transform this, I told myself that I only needed to sit on my exercise bike.

As many of us know, starting is the hardest part of any healthy habit.

I found that by giving myself permission to simply sit on my exercise bike resulted in me pedaling.

Once I was 30 seconds or so into my workout, I reframed this obligation, into a statement such as “I’m sculpting an awe-inspiring physique.”

Within a minute, I had my audiobook playing and my momentum carried me through the full work out.

I found a focus on starting while reframing my language made me look forward to this new opportunity to improve my health, fitness, and longevity.

Another strategy you may want to try is to print off the following bullet points. Before a workout, you may want to review these points and savour the benefits that people like you get from consistently riding an exercise bike.

What are the benefits of using exercise bikes?  Why might you want to ride an exercise bike? 

Exercise Bikes Tend To Be Great For People Who Are:

  • Wanting to get in awesome shape
  • Looking to live longer, higher-quality lives [2]
  • Planning to strengthen and tone their legs and glutes [3]
  • Resistant to work out but would love to if they paired it with something enjoyable like reading or watching TV
  • Committed to losing weight in the comfort of their home
  • Open to a healthy way to relieve stress [4]
  • Training for an event or big goal
  • Intimidated by or unable to go to the gym
  • Seeking a low-impact way to get a work out in without unnecessary joint pain
  • Looking for a gentle way to improve the strength and mobility [5]
  • Hoping for an alternative to running
  • Seeking to improve their ability to step up, sit, or stand [6]
  • Needing a safer alternative to riding a bike outside
  • Following their doctor’s advice to use an exercise bike daily

You may also want to create an accountability group. Skipping your commitment is often less attractive than sitting on the exercise bike.

If you don’t know how to start an accountability group, I provide clear, actionable steps in this article.

Next steps: How to continue to lose weight on an exercise bike

Once you have gotten into the rewarding habit of riding an exercise bike, you may find yourself wanting to push to that next level of fitness.

At this point you might want to consider the science behind losing weight and fat loss.

Writers at Harvard Health, explain that each pound of fat consists of about 3,500 calories.

This means that if you would like to lose a pound of fat each week, you have a few options. You could:

  1. Consume 3,500 calories less than your body uses each week (or 500 calories less each day)
  2. Burn 3,500 calories more than your body uses each week (or 500 more per day)
  3. Reduce your calories and increase the number of calories you burn so that you are in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories [7]

Losing weight on an exercise bike comes down to the following variables:

  • the length of time you’re riding for
  • the intensity at which you ride,
  • the frequency of your rides, and
  • the number of calories you consume

If you would like to lose weight on an exercise bike, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

One way to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, is to increase the intensity of your workout. High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a fantastic way to crank up your workout.

Below is an example of a HIIT workout on an exercise bike:

What type of exercise bike should I get?

When looking for an exercise bike, the four main options are:

  • Recumbent
  • Upright
  • Semi-recumbent
  • Dual Action

Dual-action exercise bikes are available in the upright, recumbent, or semi-recumbent positions. They also provide the opportunity to move your arms which can lead to burning more calories during a workout.

Rockin’ the dual action bike like it’s his business

Some exercise bikes are also adjustable and can be used in the recumbent, semi-recumbent, or upright positions.

Researchers saw no significant difference between the level of activation of muscle groups between recumbent and upright exercise bikes.

Pros Of Recumbent Exercise Bikes:

Pros of upright exercise bikes

What to do next?

For many of us, we no longer have a phys. ed teacher, drill seargent, looming physical test, or other external forcing us to get in shape.

Instead, we want to get in great shape in enjoyable ways that work for us. To do that, use the steps above and make it an obvious, easy, satisfying, and attractive habit to get on that exercise bike.

Is riding an exercise bike not quite your jam, but you’d still like to lose weight? Or perhaps you’d just like to speed up the process. Check out our guide on how to walk your way to better shape.