Simple Weight-Loss Training Plan

Use this expert advice to lose extra pounds while riding your bike—simple training plan included!

Road biking

Weight loss can be a bonus when you ride lots. But if weight loss is one of your top goals, you need a plan. So we reached out to Hunter Allen, founder and CEO of Peaks Coaching Group, author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter and Cutting-Edge Cycling, and sought his best weight-loss advice. Here it is—plus an easy-to-follow ride plan to help you reach your goal.

Set a ride goal. “Register for a metric century or a century ride, or a race,” Allen says. Pick something that both excites you and challenges you. “Then the weight loss becomes part of the journey of preparing for that event.”

Go to bed hungry. The idea is to teach your body to burn more fat, Allen says. “And you’ll be hungry while you’re asleep, so you won’t have to worry about your willpower!” This isn’t about feeling ravenous, but a little bit hungry is good—and waking up hungry is a sign you’re doing it right.

Ride before eating. This takes the “go to bed hungry” idea to the next level. Before you eat breakfast, go for a ride. “Maybe do an hour ride without eating,” Allen says, “but be mindful of how you feel.” Keep the effort level reasonable—easy-to-moderate, not intervals—and bring along some food in case you start to feel weak.

Know your calories. Generally speaking, the average guy should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories a day; women should consume 1,200 to 1,600. But calories needs vary widely, so it might handier to think about what you’re burning: A pound of fat has roughly 3,500 calories. Divide that by 7, and it works out to about 500 calories a day to either burn or cut from your diet to spur some weight loss. We prefer the second option. On a moderate-paced ride, you can easily burn 500 calories or more per hour. Convenient isn’t it?

Eat properly after a workout. After a tough workout, an endurance athlete might refuel with food that’s 60 or 70 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 10 percent fat. For weight loss, you want to shift those recovery numbers to 50 percent carbs, 30 to 40 percent protein, and 10 percent fat.

Be prepared for plateaus. Weight loss doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. “You might drop weight initially and then plateau and stay there for two or three weeks,” Allen says. Don’t get frustrated—stick with it and the weight will drop.

A Simple Training Plan.

A key to burning fat, Allen says, is doing intervals. A few times a week (up to three, and not on back-to-back days), do bursts of high-intensity riding, followed by short recovery rounds. These are hard rides and you should be pushing yourself. A one-hour interval ride might look like this.

  1. 10-minute warm up.
  2. Up to seven 3-minute intervals at 85 to 90 percent of your max heart rate. (No heart rate monitor? This exertion level feels really hard—almost maximum effort). If you’re new to intervals, consider starting with 3 and working up to seven over time.
  3. After each interval, ride at a moderate pace for 3 minutes before tackling the next interval. If you’re doing 3 intervals, fill the remaining time with a moderate-pace effort (see below for a description).
  4. Ride at a moderate pace for 10 minutes to cool down and finish the ride.

Ride at a moderate pace on the remaining days—maybe 75 to 85 percent of your max heart rate (the point where you start breathing hard but can still carry on a conversation). Make sure to plan at least one rest day each week.