Want to lose weight but don’t know where to start? Structured exercise bike sessions are a great way to start your weight loss journey, says All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill – here’s how to get started.

All types of cardio machines can help you lose excess weight, but the best exercise bikes in particular might have the upper hand. Nic Gill leads the strength and conditioning team of the All Blacks – New Zealand’s all-conquering international rugby team. It’s his job to make sure the athletes stay in the best physical shape throughout the season. Nic extensively uses exercise bikes as part of the players’ fitness programmes. Here he tells Men’s Fitness about how to use an exercise bike for weight loss:

The main advantage of indoor exercise bike sessions over road cycling, from my perspective, is that an indoor session can be very efficient. Most of us are time poor, but in 30-45 minutes you can get a great, intense hit in. The second benefit is safety: no idiot drivers or bad weather to deal with.

The most important thing to do is make sure your set-up is right. Being comfortable is super important. There are many great resources available to learn how to adjust the seat and bars to be right for you.

All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill balances a rugby ball on his finger

Nic Gill has worked with the All Blacks rugby squad for 15 years

How to use an exercise bike for weight loss

The best thing to do when using an exercise bike for weight loss is to start easy and build slowly. Build a tolerance for low-intensity cycling first (conversation pace), and gradually extend the duration. For example, start at 20 minutes each week and increase by 4-5 minutes.

Once you’ve built up a base of fitness, start incorporating some intervals, where you pick up your effort for short periods of time. I would aim for a minimum of three sessions a week to start.

When you’re fitter and healthier, seven rides a week will be no problem. Unlike running, the risk of injury on a well set-up bike is minimal.

Man in a fitness studio on an exercise bike

Nic Gill suggests mixing low-intensity cycling with spikes in intensity over a session up to an hour long

Exercise bike workout for weight loss

Weight loss, or changing body composition, is all about fuel in verses fuel out. So the best session is one that burns enough energy so your expenditure for the day is more than your intake. It’s also one that you love doing and want to do again, and short enough to fit into a busy schedule.

With this in mind, I’d suggest 30-60 minutes of cycling, with a warm-up of 10% of the workout time.

Within the workout, mix some easy, low-intensity cycling with some spikes in intensity – intervals of 10-60secs duration (80% to maximum effort), with a rest ratio of about 2-3 times that (for example 10secs on, 20-30secs easy; 60secs on, 2mins easy).

Exercise bike benefits

A healthy body and mind is all about energy balance and the hormonal, physiological and mental benefits of exercise. Any programme you take on should be about enjoyment, improving mood, balancing hunger and energy in and out.

When you’ve completed three to four weeks of regular exercise, take note of how you feel after you finish a session. Do you feel good? Energised? Confident? Happy? These are the things that really should drive and motivate our activity.

You may even note that your craving for bad food is less. When you exercise, you want to eat healthy, too.

Nic Gill has worked with the All Blacks for 15 years and leads the health and performance team that makes sure the athletes perform to their potential. He’s written three seven-week training plans on wattbike.com and on the Wattbike Hub App.