Two frequently asked questions regarding indoor cycling are how many calories you’ll burn and whether you’ll lose weight.
As usual, the answer is: it depends. Ride harder and you’ll burn more calories. But it also depends on factors including your weight and fitness level.
Harvard Medical School reckons that the calorie burn rate for a 70kg rider riding indoors at around 20kph is in the region of 600 calories an hour. Increase your speed to 25kph and that might rise to around 750 calories.
That’s a rate that can be increased significantly by following a more structured workout rather than riding at a steady pace, with high-intensity interval training in particular shown to boost metabolic rate. The numbers are comparable to riding outdoors, although it’s been found that riders in general can put out more power outdoors than indoors.
The effect of exercise doesn’t stop when you stop though. An elevation of your metabolic rate has been found to be present for over a day as your body burns fat reserves, repairs itself and makes adaptations in response to your workout. It’s called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC.
Greater structure and focus
Riding indoors doesn’t just burn calories, it causes adaptations to your body that help you to increase your performance when riding outdoors. We sat down with Mac Cassin from Wahoo’s sports science team to talk through how the way your body reacts to riding indoors can help your performance outdoors.
First up, indoor cycling is usually more intensive than riding outdoors. There’s less downtime and fewer things to divert your attention from your riding. It’s easier to follow an interval session and hold a consistent power output than outdoors, particularly if you ride somewhere like the UK where roads are often undulating and there are few really long hills to train on. On a trainer, you can ride a road that never goes downhill.
The more structured nature of much indoor riding results in greater improvement in performance than an outdoor ride, as it tackles specific aspects of fitness better.
In terms of the work output, there’s no difference between riding at 200 watts indoors on the trainer and riding at the same power output outdoors. It’s often easier to put in prolonged efforts at higher intensities indoors than outdoors though.
But, says Cassin, one of the major benefits of riding…