Ride a Bike for Exercise

Riding a bicycle for exercise is an excellent way to get outside and burn calories. This article will introduce a beginner bike rider to different types of exercises, how to exercise correctly, along with appropriate gear to wear. A typical road bike will be the example for this article, as riding on gravel requires more of an advanced skill set.


Choosing Your Equipment

  1. Road bikes are very popular and they come in plenty of different price ranges. Consult with your local bike shop to find the bike within your price range
  1. After you've found your bike, you're going to need a helmet
    • In the United States, all helmets meet the safety standards for protection, but different styles could benefit your style of riding.
    • Road bike helmets are made to be aerodynamic, allowing air to pass through the helmet to maintain speed. They are also very lightweight, which is a very smart choice for a new bike rider
    • If the helmet is not professionally fitted, make sure it sits a fingers' width above the eyebrows and it is snug on the temples.
  1. Standard workout attire is fine for bike riding. Depending on the weather make sure to not overdress or underdress.
    • Avoid wearing loose-fitting sweatpants as there is a risk of the pant leg getting caught in the chain.
    • If you're riding during the evening, wear bright-colored clothing to make yourself visible to passing cars, or other pedestrians.
    • Padded bike shorts can make those longer rides more comfortable.

Setting Up Your Bike

  1. If your bike has not been professionally seat-adjusted, the LeMond Formula is a great way to determine your seat height. Its simply your inside leg length X 0.883
    • To find your inside leg length, without shoes on, stand firmly against a wall and place a book between your legs so it is tight against your sit bones.
    • Now mark on the wall where the top of the book is sitting.
    • Measure from the floor to the pencil mark and multiply that number by 0.883 to find your seat height.
  1. Make sure the bike chain is properly lubricated. It's a necessity for everything to move seamlessly.
    • Take a rag and wipe down your chain from excess grease and clean it.
    • Apply your chain lubricant (found at any bicycle shop) on top of each chain link while slowly backpedaling so it has a chance to work its way in the gears and inside the links.
    • Wipe off excess lube to prevent grime build-up.
  1. Check your tire pressure.
    • For a road bike, the recommended tire pressure will be inscribed on the outer wall of the tire. It is important to follow those recommendations.
    • For road bikes, the standard tire pressure is between 90-120 PSI


Warming Up and Hydration

  1. Before a bike ride, a 2 to 5-minute warm-up should be done. This will help your body move more fluidly during the ride.
    • Since bike riding requires a lot of leg movement, a simple leg warm-up should be done.
    • Calf stretch each of your legs for at least 30 seconds. This is great for cramp prevention.
    • Stretching your quadriceps is also important because it's the muscle group that is providing most of the energy.
    • This could be done by standing on one leg, or if you're near a wall, place one hand on a wall and grab with your other hand the ankle as you raise it near your buttocks. Hold that stretch for 30 seconds and then do it with the other leg.
  1. It is important to be properly hydrated before, during, and after your ride, as riding a bike is very aerobic.
    • Drink 64 oz. of water per day to be properly hydrated.
    • Fill up two sports water bottles that can fit in your water bottle cage on your bike. Riding a bike without any form of hydration is very dangerous and never recommended.
    • it is always a good idea to stop during your ride and drink water. Or if you're comfortable, drink water during your ride.


  1. To begin, it is important to find a good and safe bike route to use. There are resources such as TrailLink, that will find you bike trails near your zip code.
    • For a beginner bike rider, it is suggested to find a trail or road that has a bike lane with minimal hills. This is good to judge what you can handle at a steady pace without uphill climbing.
  2. After you've found your bike route, you're now ready to depart on your ride.
    • It is very important to ride at a comfortable pace, between 10 and 12 miles per hour is a good place to get your heart rate going without over exertion.
    • Finding the right distance to go is also very important. A lot of new riders will find a landmark to use as a turnaround point, or if you have a smartwatch that tracks your exercises, you can track a distance to turn around.
  3. Start with 5-mile bike rides for a week.
    • Five miles is great to get a good look at what pace you're comfortable with riding at. If you can ride 2.5 miles straight at a pace of 10 miles per hour and hold that same pace on the way back, you are in good shape to increase your distance for your next ride.
    • When you feel comfortable, try adding quarter-mile sprints to increase your heart rate. Spriting is good to strengthen your heart and lungs and prepare you for longer-distance rides.
    • A good way to judge if you're getting good exercise is the "conversation" rule. If you feel like you can hold a conversation, you may need to work out harder by increasing the speed of your ride.
  1. Adding distance to your ride.
    • If you begin to feel comfortable with riding at a steady cardiovascular pace for five miles, you may want to increase the distance of your rides.
    • Adding distance, even a mile or two, will help you increase your calories burned due to the heart rate increase for the added distance.
    • Be careful not to overdo it with the added distance, remember, whatever distance you add, make sure it is a safe and comfortable amount for your level of skill.
  2. Try adding elevation.
    • If you've found that riding on steady, flat terrain is too easy, find a route that has some elevation change.
    • Incorporating elevation change into your rides is great for strengthening your legs as well as your heart and lungs.
    • If you decide to add hills to your ride, remember to start small and work your way up due to them being difficult to climb for inexperienced riders.

Post Ride

  1. Post-ride cool-down exercises are great for recovery. They help move the lactic acid build-up from a ride to promote muscle build and recovery.
    • Remember to hydrate. Drink a full water bottle to hydrate your body of lost water during your ride.
    • Take a short cool-down walk after your ride. These are good for stretching your legs due to them being in a compressed state for a long duration.
    • Take deep breaths. Breath in for 5 seconds and breath out for 5 seconds. This helps to decrease the heart rate.
  2. Inspect your bike.
    • Check your bike tires and chain for any abnormalities. Bike tires are thin and can be damaged easily if they make an impact from broken glass or any other sharp object.
  3. Make a long-term schedule for your bike rides. Track your calories burned and ride date such as how long you rode, how long it took, etc. A schedule will keep you organized and motivated to set a new goal for your next ride.
    • Remember to add rest days. Bicycle riding is physically demanding and your body needs time to recover. If you feel like you need multiple days, don't be afraid to take those days off. It is normal to feel sore, but also listening to your body is also necessary if you feel like you're too sore.


  • Keep an Allen wrench set in a seat bag if you own one. This is good for field repairs in case your bike takes some damage on your ride.
  • Always carry a cell phone with you. It is important in case something happens to you to let people know where you're at.


  • It is important to obey traffic laws when riding


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