How to Maximize Calorie Burn on the Bike

One of the ways to maximize calorie burn on a stationary bike is through high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. The idea is that you pedal as fast as you can for a short amount of time at a high resistance and then lower the resistance and speed for a recovery time then repeat.

The Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse tested 16 adults doing 20-minute, high-intensity interval exercises and found that calorie burning was maximized when participants pushed themselves to their absolute limit. "You should be feeling extremely uncomfortable. If you aren't exhausted by the end of this workout you aren't doing it right," says John Porcari, who led the HPL research team.

But how "uncomfortable" should you be? It basically means out-of-the-saddle sprinting at multiple points during a 30-minute workout. The study found that calorie burning during HIIT training peaked at 15 calories per minute, meaning that pushing yourself during intervals could help you burn off a max of 450 calories in 30 minutes.

The Science Behind the Spin

We've all seen those people at the gym pedaling steadily for 45 minutes, but there's evidence that a 30-minute HIIT workout can maximize calorie burn better than a longer workout. A study by Angelo Tremblay of the Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory at Laval University found that the decrease in fat was "ninefold greater" in young adults who used shorter, high-intensity workouts than longer endurance training.

The good news is that stationary bikes are perfect for these kinds of high-intensity interval exercises. They offer a low impact workout and the ability to easily change the resistance in order to get into the moderate- to high-intensity training zone.

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