You might be looking to lose weight and thinking if 20 minutes of an exercise bike are enough for this goal. In this article, I will answer the question: Are 20 Minutes on an Exercise Bike Enough for weight loss?.. and explains why only 20 minutes of cycling on a bike is sufficient to get in shape.
It looks at what science says about short-period cycling and its health benefits as well as into the ideal riding session length.
So, is 20 Minutes on an Exercise Bike Enough?
Yes, 20 minutes on an exercise bike are enough if you combine sprinting with moderate-pace cycling. Alternating periods of high-intensity intermittent exercise are the key to weight loss when your cycling sessions are limited by time.
Most studies in the cycling space look at 30, 40, or even 50-minute cycling sessions and their benefits. A typical spin class lasts up to 60 minutes and this is where most data exists. However, a cycling benefits study shows that a method of cycling that also involves sprints shows health benefits even when the cycling session is limited to 20 minutes.
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Who Should Be Cycling for 20 Minutes?
To better understand what makes such short cycling sessions valid you need to think about the person who’s looking to train for 20 minutes. You might be one of the people who doesn’t have time to drive to and from the gym every day.
On some days, you might not even have the time to participate in a full 1-hour spin class. Limited stamina might also be one of the reasons why you consider reduced periods of training on an exercise bike.
Here are the main categories of people who can’t or won’t cycle for an hour in a spin class.
- Busy people with no time to train: Time is one of the most quoted problems when it comes to missing the gym. A spin class lasts between 50 and 60 minutes. You need to add the driving time to the gym and the time it takes to get ready for the class. If you add a quick shower after your cycling session, the entire spin cycling class experience can take at least 2 hours of your time every single day. For some people, this is not feasible.
- People with joint pain: Another group of people who only train for a few minutes per day is those with joint pain. Severe joint pain can be one of the reasons you’re on a bike instead of jogging in the first place. But if you have knee pain, the last thing on your mind is to cycle for an hour. At the same time, you need to stay active to burn calories. This leaves you a small window of short intervals of training.
- Overweight users at the start of the fitness journey: Many recommend cycling when you’re just starting on your fitness journey to lose excess weight. Due to its low impact, especially on joints, cycling is the ideal first exercise or sport for overweight people looking to lose weight. The 20-minute cycling session has its place in the journey to lose excess body weight.
Are 20 minutes on an exercise bike enough?
Realistically, 20 minutes can be enough or just too little, depending on where you are on your fitness journey. It’s the right interval as a beginner and an insufficient interval as an experienced cyclist.
20 minutes on exercise bike distance: The average time to cover 1 mile with a bike is 3 minutes and 30 seconds on flat terrain. This means you can cycle more than 5 miles in 20 minutes on flat terrain or a spin bike simulating flat terrain cycling.
The better you become at cycling, the closer you are to covering a mile in less than 3 minutes. In time, you can get an average of around 2.9 minutes per mile (2.1 minutes for a pro-level cyclist). However, the point of calculating the distance you cover in a 20-minute bike ride is to estimate how much terrain you’d cover if you were to cycle outdoors.
How many calories do 20 minutes of biking burn?
The exact number of calories you burn cycling is hard to pinpoint. This is due to the role of various factors such as fitness condition, height, weight, age, and gender. All of these play a role. At the bottom level, you will be able to burn at least 450 calories per 60 minutes of training. At the top fitness level, the number of calories you burn increases to 750 calories. Now let’s see how many calories you burn per 20 minutes of cycling.
- An average person with poor fitness burns 150 calories in 20 minutes
- An average person with great fitness burns 250 calories in 20 minutes
- The average person burns 200 calories with 20 minutes of cycling
The number of calories you burn can also fluctuate depending on multiple factors. The level of rest or recovery influences the amount of effort you can put into a 20-minute cycling session. The more energy you have, the likelier you are to get a good workout and to burn more calories even with short cycling sessions.
Cycling 20 minutes a day weight loss
You burn the equivalent of a simple meal such as a bowl of tomato soup in 20 minutes of cycling. If you decide to cycle every day for 5 days per week, you burn 1.000 calories. 100 minutes of cycling per week burns the equivalent of 5 meals which can be a great aid when it comes to faster weight loss results.
Every little helps when it comes to weight loss. However, a better question is if 1.000 calories burned per week from exercising is enough to lose weight. Science says this is the case, especially for those in a caloric deficit. In other words, 20-minute cycling sessions can help you lose weight if you aren’t overeating. Scientists also recommend sprinting a few times during this short cycling session to help get to that elevated heart rate faster, especially since you aren’t cycling for a full hour.
20-minute stationary bike workout
20-minute stationary bike workouts are superior to outdoor cycling in pure calorie-burning terms. While it’s often recommended to cycle outdoors in the fresh air, the unknown elements of changing terrain and weather conditions often result in fewer calories consumed per 20 minutes of cycling.
Controlled indoor conditions almost guarantee you burn the same amount of calories every time, especially if you’re well-rested. On the other hand, things are a bit more complex outdoors.
Take mountain biking as an example. Small twists and turns, frequent stops, and even higher fatigue levels in just a few seconds limit the amount of effort you can put into a 20-minute cycling session to sporadic periods of climbing. Technical cycling terrains aren’t capable of keeping you cycling at a heart rate level of over 75% which ultimately limits the number of calories you can burn.
See also: Are Air Bikes Good Exercise?
How many minutes a day should you ride a stationary bike?
Most medical professionals recommend cycling sessions between 30 minutes and 60 minutes per day. It’s very difficult to find scientists who recommend more than 60 minutes of intense cycling per day if you cycle every day. This is because too much cycling can also be detrimental, especially for your recovery, and given it can bring certain injuries such as knee strain.
How long is a good workout on a stationary bike?
The answer to this question depends on your fitness level but it also varies between 30 and 60 minutes. If you have poor physical fitness, you would consider a 30-minute workout on a stationary bike satisfactory. The better your physical fitness gets, the closer to the 60-minutes mark you will be when it comes to finding that good workout period for everyday cycling on a stationary bike.
Riding a stationary bike alone is often subject to set your time limit. If you decide to join an online cycling class you are likely to encounter 50-minutes and 60-minutes cycling workout sessions. But this might be a bit too much if you’re one of the users described at the beginning of the article either with limited time or with limited physical fitness capacity to keep up with such a demanding cycling class.
Is it OK to ride an exercise bike every day?
It’s generally safe to cycle every day. However, if you ask this question relating to weight loss, the answer is a bit more complex. All of the studies referring to cycling as a daily habit imply a set amount of calories or a certain diet.
The average diet of an adult male of 2.000 calories is taken into account when calculating if it’s OK to ride an exercise bike every day to lose weight. If you eat more than you need and you burn less, you will not lose weight if you cycle every day for short periods. You might even gain weight regardless of your daily training efforts in a short period.
Most scientific literature refers to the caloric deficit when it ties weight loss to daily training workouts and their results. This means you need to eat just a bit less if you want to lose weight, even if you start to cycle.
To make up for eating more you would have to cycle more, but this would already be more than the 20-minute cycling session on a spin bike. Non-scientific evidence shows those who cycle every day are typically in good physical health. You can see bike commuters are some of the fittest people at the office.
How many days a week should I ride my stationary bike?
Given your cycling sessions are limited to 20-30 minutes, you should cycle every day for at least 5 days per week. Of course, not all cycling sessions are the same within a week. You can spend the same minutes on the bike and burn fewer calories when you’re not pushing as you’d normally do on a given day.
At the same time, the repetitive nature of daily cycling is what builds good habits. Getting in shape takes a long time and it’s about the sustained effort in doing so that’s going to help you get there faster rather than cycling 1 long session per week to replace all everyday shorter cycling sessions.
How long does it take to see results from riding a stationary bike?
‘Results’ can be defined differently when it comes to stationary bike cycling training. The studies mentioned above for type 2 diabetes sufferers that saw glucose levels dropped were first seen after 12 weeks. This means it took 3 months for the stationary bike riding sessions to start showing their benefits.
The same, if not more time, is needed to start seeing considerable weight loss benefits when riding a stationary bike every day. Most agree it takes at least 2 months to start seeing benefits such as weight loss or improved cardiovascular endurance when cycling indoors. At the very least, you will start to see your tolerance to effort increasing within 2 months.
After a few months of consistent training, you should see benefits such as lower body fat levels as well as higher endurance capacity. You should also find it easier to tolerate 20-minute cycling sessions after a few months than you did in your first week of training.
- These short workouts are just as effective as a full gym session (1)
- How to get the most out of your exercise time, according to science (2)