Mountain biking is best categorized as a cardiovascular exercise or an aerobic exercise. However, unlike other exercises, mountain biking is something even unfit people can do, up to a certain point, without getting tired and out of breath.
Furthermore, unlike repetitive, monotonous workouts in a gym, riding on mountain bike trails is actually fun. You often get to visit a new and interesting place; plus, you get to see beautiful views, breathe in fresh air, and go on exciting adventures.
Remember a time when you were absolutely drenched in sweat, without even knowing it? Well, thatʼs what mountain biking does. It makes you forget all the hard stuff since it is so darn enjoyable.
Essentially, mountain biking excels as a weight loss fitness program primarily because it is fun, exciting, and engaging.
What Makes Mountain Biking a Fantastic Option for Weight Loss?
Boredom is one of the primary reasons people struggle to commit to their weight loss programs. And, unfortunately, most cardiovascular exercise fits into the boring category.
After all, nobody wants to do endless push-ups and sit-ups or the same extremely repetitive exercises.
Fortunately, mountain biking is exciting and a lot of fun. And the bonus is that it will feel a lot more worthwhile slowly cycling up a hill when you know there’ll be a beautiful natural vista waiting for you when you reach the top of a mountain.
When mountain bikers ride, they don’t notice the effort mountain biking requires simply because it is so much fun.
It also helps that mountain biking offers you a full-body workout. When you go out for rides in the mountains, your endurance and core strength will be heavily tested.
Trail riding, downhill riding, cross-country riding, and dirt jumping on various terrains will work your muscles, including your shoulders, arms, abdomen, stomach muscles, glutes, and the other primary muscles of your legs. In short, you’ll be able to burn plenty of calories and shed excess fat.
The rule of thumb suggests that you can burn an average of 600 to 800 calories, per hour, when road biking on a decent forest trail.
It’s difficult to get an exact figure since the calories burned per hour can vary based on several factors, including the weight of the rider, the intensity of the rides, and whether you’re doing a steep incline or a downhill ride.
Of course, you’ll have to watch what you eat as well if you want to burn fat and shed the extra pounds. When you are mountain biking regularly, remember to increase your protein intake to prevent muscle soreness.
Finally, what makes mountain biking so alluring to people of all ages as a weight loss program is that itʼs a low-impact sport. In other words, mountain biking is easy on your joints.
How Does Mountain Biking Compare to Other Weight-Loss Programs?
It is impossible to say exactly how many calories you can burn during a mountain bike ride as there are many variables (exercise intensity, steepness of the incline, muscle mass, bike type, etc.) that need to be considered.
So, letʼs base the “calories burned” count on a moderately intense workout. In a moderate workout, you can burn as many calories as you would burn during cross-country skiing or vigorous hiking.
Unfortunately, mountain biking doesnʼt burn as many calories as running. But, it does burn more calories than a long walk or jog under the hot sun.
Tips to Lose Stored Fat
1. Start slow
It would be counterproductive for you to start with guns blazing on your first bike ride. Only when you’re strong enough, due to strength training, should you attempt to ride gnarly, treacherous, steep trails.
In the meantime, stick to well-developed trails or even the streets in the beginning. Also, ensure you do proper warm-up stretches before you get on your bike for a long ride.
Both warm-up and cool-down sessions can be mighty effective at preventing injuries, stiff muscles, and delayed-onset muscle soreness.
If you go in too hard right at the beginning of your weight-loss journey, youʼll find it extremely difficult to sustain such a lifestyle.
2. Donʼt set unrealistic objectives
If losing weight and burning excess body fat are your main goals, donʼt set unrealistic objectives from the beginning. Also, setting short-term smaller goals is much better than setting long-term goals.
When you have your eyes set on bigger objectives, the task ahead becomes more daunting and, as a result, it can demotivate you.
3. Count your calories
You need to be in a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight. Hence, it is in your best interest to count your calorie intake each day.
Staying abreast of your calorie intake will allow you to track your progress. It’s a good idea to purchase a scale with a calorie-counting feature.
A food scale that accurately weighs food will help you discover the number of calories that are actually in your food of choice, allowing you to form better eating habits. Also, factor in the readily available calories you burn each day because of your mountain biking sessions.
With a deficit of around 500 calories every day, you will be able to yield weight loss in a healthy range of one to two pounds per week.
4. Donʼt overexert yourself
It is also counterproductive to over-train. Granted, seeing positive results can be extremely motivating, but it is also important to give your body some rest.
Overtraining can cause burnout and muscle soreness, and it can also increase your chances of sustaining injuries. So start with a few hours at a time.
5. Switch it up
You should also vary your training to avoid hitting a plateau in your fitness progress. If you want to burn the most calories possible, youʼll need to incorporate HIIT (high-intensity interval training) methods into your mountain bike rides.
For example, you can go slowly on your bike for a few minutes before riding 100% for a minute. And then you keep repeating the process until youʼve burned fuel.
If you are not a big fan of counting seconds or minutes, consider trail riding. Trail riding comprises all the fundamentals of HIIT because riding on trails will have you climbing more hills, slowing down to negotiate obstacles, and breezing downhill.
In essence, if you wish to incorporate HIIT principles into your mountain biking sessions, youʼd simply need to ride at a different pace. When you ride at the same pace for extended periods, your body gets used to the workload and the training becomes ineffective over time.
So, if you want to lose weight, donʼt let your body get accustomed to your rides.
6. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated during your mountain biking sessions is of paramount importance. When you’re dehydrated, you increase your chances of getting injured.
Staying hydrated allows you to ride longer too.
Without enough water in your body, youʼll experience disorientation and nausea, which can lead to heavy falls and unfortunate accidents. Dehydration also often causes muscle cramps.
7. Get enough sleep
If you donʼt want your mountain bike workout routine to be pointless, you need to get adequate sleep. Reports suggest that a lack of sleep is one of the main factors that cause weight problems.
Without enough rest and sleep, your muscles wonʼt be able to recover properly after a tough ride in the mountains. Additionally, sleep deprivation also leads to stress.
8. Invest in a good mountain bike
A good mountain bike can offer you a fantastic riding experience.
Compared to some cheaper models found in your local bike shop, the more expensive ones will have better, lighter frames to help you climb hills easily and suspension forks both in the front and the rear end to absorb shocks and vibrations when you’re on bumpy roads. They’ll also have higher-quality, safer brakes.
There’s a huge difference between cycling on the right bike and cycling on the wrong one. Basically, with mountain bikes, you get what you pay for.
Conclusively, we can safely say that you can burn calories and lose weight while mountain biking. However, what makes mountain biking so much better than most cardiovascular exercises (cross-training, anaerobic exercise) is the fact that it is simply more fun.
This means that people are likelier to bike consistently than exercise regularly at the gym. And, you know what any health care professional or sports medicine expert would say – the best cardiovascular-based exercise is the one you enjoy doing every day.