Indoor vs. Outdoor Cycling: Which Workout Is Better For Losing Weight?

Weight loss is one of the many problems facing people today. They are struggling to shed the extra pound using any required methods. Well, have you ever thought of cycling as a weight-loss method? When it comes to cycling, you can either choose to do it indoors or outdoors.

The option of cycling either indoors or outdoors is sometimes made for you by the weather elements. For example, it will be impossible for you to do outdoor cycling when there are floods everywhere. This should not discourage you though; you can still do some cycling indoors if you have a good bike desk or a bike roller at home. If you are trying to lose weight through cycling, there are several things you should know about the two cycling types.

Outdoor Bike VS Indoor Bike

women rowers

An outdoor bike has a frame, seat, and a pedal system that is personalized for each rider. What is more, you can run errands at the same time.

If you are looking to lose some pounds, this is the best method as you will use calories to peddle your bike. This is due to the fact that you will experience resistance as you peddle, which translates to lost calories.

On the other hand, with spinning, the bike is made to fit all and has a flat pedaling system. Although it comes with the advantage of working out from home, the downside is that you are limited in your riding position as the bike is stationary. Sometimes you also have to travel to find a spinning bike only to spend the next few hours sitting on immobile equipment. Another indoors bike type is the recumbent exercise bike which is a very good option for people who have pain in the back or for seniors.


spinning class

According to a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), “typical spinning class keeps you at between 75-95% of your highest heart rate;” this sounds fantastic, right? Maybe the biggest motivators are the increased heat in the room, the cheering on from your friends, or the stern look from your instructor. Either way, spinning is great for your heart. The downside is that with spinning, you only use your hamstring muscles. Since the bike helps you do most of the work, you end up burning fewer calories.

With outdoor cycling, you can also get your heart rate high, although you will need to peddle harder for that to happen. The downside of outdoor cycling is that you have to worry about several things like balancing the bike and navigating your trail, plus there is no one to cheer you on. However, here you tend to use more muscles in peddling as opposed to spinning where only the hamstring muscles are used. You will work your glutes, quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, and other vital muscles, and this translates to overall fitness. Since you require more energy to peddle, this means you get to burn more calories.


Indoor vs. Outdoor Cycling

When you are cycling outside, you get faced with resistance from the blowing wind, environmental features, clothes that you are wearing, and the peddle system. Many people choose the gym over the bike because of the weather, but in my opinion, you should make a combination and train in the gym and outside. Riding on a smooth terrain is much easier than a bumpy macadam road.

Spinning, on the other hand, consists of an immobile indoor bike and the entire resistance comes from the flywheel. Due to the fact that it is heavier than the outdoor bike’s wheel, you are bound to experience a resistance that can equal one from an outdoor bike. The downside of spinning is that even when you stop peddling, the wheel continues to spin, which means it does some of the work for you. So, you will end up losing fewer calories.

Energy Expenditure

hybrid bike with awesome blue wheels, a table , a pair of trainers

There is definitely a big difference in the energy expenditure where both indoor and outdoor cycling are concerned. When you are cycling outside, you will face different variables like wind, cold, heat, and vehicles, among others. This means you can choose how fast or slow to go to cycle depending on these variables. With an indoor bike, the environment is controlled and the choice to either go fast or slow depends on the workout.

Since energy expenditure is proportional to the cyclist’s body weight, duration, and intensity of cycling, it means that it varies for the two methods. With outdoors cycling, you can choose to add more weight by strapping a load at the back of your bike. This will make you use more energy and burn more calories in the process.

For example, an 80 kg man pedaling at 150 watts burns 7.5 calories every minute. If he had to cycle for an hour, he would burn approximately 450 calories. If this cyclist chooses to cycle for an hour, peddling at 200 watts, he will end up burning 576 calories. The body mass remains constant but the intensity and duration change. It means that for you to burn more calories, you have to increase your intensity and duration.


water bottle

This is another nutrition variable that you need to put into consideration when determining the benefits of cycling. The efforts of riding an indoor bike are higher compared to cycling its outdoor alternative. When one is cycling indoors, they tend to experience increased temperatures due to the controlled environment. However, when cycling outside, you benefit from the blowing wind, which works to cool your body. It means that you will need more water when indoors as compared to when you are riding outside.

However, if you are riding intensity is low, you might not need a lot of water. Remember also when you are outdoors, you could encounter high temperatures that require you to keep on sipping from your water bottle.

Drinking more water will help with metabolism. Efficient metabolism leads to better digestion and better weight management. Water is very important when it comes to burning calories; the more you drink, the more of them you burn.

How to Burn Calories from Cycling

If you are looking to lose weight and don’t have a lot of time due to your work schedule, you can adjust your routine to accommodate all this. Develop a routine where you start commuting to and from work using your bicycle. Commuting with your bike to work could be very good for your health in the long term. If you are in college, you can also ride your bike to campus.

If this proves to be hard, try waking up and cycle before everyone else goes to work. Alternatively, you can opt to ride your bike in the evenings.

If this proves hard altogether, you can enroll in a lunchtime spin class where you get to spend your lunch break sweating it out. You will soon start to notice a slight drop in your weight, which is a good sign.

Remember too that, in order to lose weight; you need to burn more calories than you consume. This means that you have to go for healthy diets that will not only help you lose weight but also stay healthy. Losing weight is a long-term commitment; do not expect to shed pounds after cycling for just a few days.

There are some helpful videos on Youtube like this one that will shed more light on this article. Use the above information to determine what works for you since there are mixed sentiments as to which cycling method helps you burn more calories. But whichever you choose I can assure you that cycling will at least tone your stomach, and will make you feel much happier!

Read More: 5 Exceptionally Cool Handlebar Tapes for Your Road Bike

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.