Due to an injury, I can no longer run, however, I would like to use my road bicycles to lose weight.

Assuming I have the discipline, and I use a trainer for the training sessions, What type of sessions should i have?

High cadence? ~110+?


Time based?

Should I aim for a certain Heart Rate Zone?

1 Answer 1


Cycling can be a very effective method for fat and weight loss. If you are going to be primarily using a trainer, then you will probably want to go with a time based method rather than distance.

If you are serious about this, I would look at investing in a powermeter of some kind. I would recommend a wheel based meter with ANT+ technology (Almost all powermeters anymore are ANT+), with a paired computer. The reason I state this is that power in watts x 4 is almost exactly equal to calories burned, due to the efficiency conversion of human power to bike speed/time. So if you cycle at 200 watts for 1 hour, you've burned ~ 800 calories.

The other advantage to this is that you can also pair your powermeter with an online program such as Trainer Road and get somewhat personalized training plans. (Note, I am not affiliated with TR, just a fan).

For the actual program, initially I would just aim for TITS (Time In The Saddle), and not worry about intensity. Get on the bike for at least 30 mins a day, more if you can stand it. After a couple months, you can start adding some intervals and speed work, and higher intensity/cadence work. The nice advantage is that cycling is much less impact than running, so you can do higher intensity more often.

You may find after a while that the trainer becomes boring, so don't be afraid to grab a helmet and head out on the road occasionally to keep things interesting.

  • 1
    Trainer Road also gives the option to use "virtual power", which provides many benefits of a power meter without the expense: trainerroad.com/features/virtual-power
    – spudone
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 21:50
  • @spudone - True. I always forget about that since I have a pm. Good point, thanks!
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 1:04
  • I think your calorie -> watts calculations are a bit out. 1 calorie = 4.19 watt seconds. 200 watt hours = 171.9 kcal
    – rthsyjh
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 15:54
  • @Jaydee - energy (kcal) = avg power (W) X duration (hours) X 3.6. That's been a commonly measured and accepted formula for a while. You multiply by 3.6 because human efficiency on a bike is 20-25% (Again, extensively measured and commonly accepted). While it is not exact as multiplying it out, the common usage is to multiply the watts readout (technically it's measured in kj) x 4 to get your calorie expenditure for whatever amount of time.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 16:07
  • @JohnP Thanks, I didn't take the efficiency on a bike into consideration.
    – rthsyjh
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 8:07

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