It's a catch 22: mountain biking is a great way to lose weight and get in shape, but it's hard to do when you're overweight and out of shape. But you can overcome this paradox if you ease yourself into mountain biking. Start with a easy cycling and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts while controlling your calories to lose weight. Soon you'll be lighter and in better shape.
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Begin cycling on your mountain bike at a speed and frequency that is comfortable for you. Aim for a moderately intense workout as you start out. This may mean sticking to well developed trails, carriage roads or even the streets where you can pedal at a comfortable pace that you do not find strenuous. Aim for at least 100 minutes of biking per week.
Gradually increase the length of your bike rides. According to research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, increasing the duration of your workouts is more important than increasing the intensity if you're looking to lose weight. Aim to get 150 minutes on your bike per week, but remember that more is better.
Increase the intensity of your rides as you look for an added challenge. Choose more challenging, less developed trails and include more hills in your workouts. This may slow down your cycling, but it will increase the intensity of your workout. While it's important to maintain a longer duration for your workouts, increasing the intensity will also help burn more calories.
Monitor your heart rate by taking your pulse. Place your index and ring fingers over the blood vessels on your opposite wrist and count the number of beats you feel in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your pulse in beats per minute. Alternatively you can use a heart rate monitor. Your pulse should be in the target zone of 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. For instance a 30-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 190 beats per minute and a target zone of 95 to 162 beats per minute.
Track the number of calories that you burn mountain biking. As a general guideline, know that a 190-pound person will burn about 649 calories in an hour of mountain biking, while a 133-pound individual will burn about 433 calories. But these should only be taken as rough estimates. Your actual calorie burn will vary based on the intensity of your workout. A heart rate monitor with a calorie counting feature can give you a customized estimate based on your exercise intensity and your weight.
Track your daily calorie intake and aim for a reduction of 500 to 1,000 through diet and exercise. For example, if you burn 300 calories mountain biking, you need to also reduce your intake by 200 calories to reduce your total daily calories by 500. A calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories every day will yield weight loss in a healthy range of one to two pounds per week.