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I have heard that bicycling is a great form of cardio exercise. I bike to and from work everyday and the whole way everything is flat. I am not sure what the best way is to make the most out of the exercise.

Should I pedal as hard as I can the whole time?

Is this a good enough alternative to jogging?

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How long is your commute? –  Agos Sep 16 '11 at 20:33
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Are you looking to keep fit or do you have a specific goal that you want to reach? –  Phil Johnstone Sep 16 '11 at 20:44
    
I bike about 4 miles to work, takes 20min. So in all 8 miles a day. I'm not only looking to stay fit but also to lose stomach fat. I know that running is a great way to achieve this, but is biking a good alternative? –  mugetsu Sep 16 '11 at 21:12
    
Pushups or situps will help you lose that spare tire faster than cycling will. (They'll also help you build core muscles.) –  Neil Fein Sep 16 '11 at 21:52
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The most effective exercises for losing body fat are aerobic exercises, and interval training is quite effective in this regard. Situps will strengthen your core, but don't do a lot for fat reduction. Exercise alone is not enough for fat reduction... fat reduction also requires proper nutrition. –  user313 Sep 16 '11 at 22:08

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Interval Training.

It's a type of workout where you alternate bursts of energy with periods of recovery. There are many variations of interval training. If you want cycling specific intervals, you could try "The Time Crunched Cyclist" by Chris Charmichael. The book is primarily about training for Centuries or racing, but if you follow the methods, you'll get into great condition. Interval training is an excellent cardo workout and a great alternative to jogging.

One popular method of interval training is the "Tabata" method. This uses 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise (at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max or 90 - 95% of your max heart rate) followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles). Typically, this is done 3 or 4 days a week and not on consecutive days.

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i'll be sure to try this, so I'm just going to pedal as hard as I can for as long as I can and then bike at a casual rate until I can speed up again. –  mugetsu Sep 16 '11 at 22:05
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Heart-rate monitors are good to use because they have different zones. It's easier to know that you are pushing yourself or resting properly. –  Phil Johnstone Sep 16 '11 at 22:12
    
@mugetsu - I've found interval training to be most effective using specifically timed intervals. Like I said, there are numerous variations on intervals training. An example: early in the season one might do 1 minute of high intensity followed by a 2 minute recovery; and then build up to 5 minutes of high intensity followed by a 2 minute recovery. Good luck! –  user313 Sep 16 '11 at 22:27

If your commute is only 4 miles each way then my advice is to extend it once or twice a week. Can you take a detour along some quiet roads? Any hills in the area? Do you pass a park around which you could do some laps?

Take it easy on the way into work in the morning to save your energy, then go have some fun after work.

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When I was commuting regularly I preferred to get up early and put in a long ride in the morning, then straight home. Turned a 20 mile commute into 35-40. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 18 '11 at 20:47

There is a period of about an hour after exercise where your body is more likely to replenish your muscles with carbs and protein rather than storing it on your body as fat. It may be worth waiting until you get to work before you eat your breakfast.

To increase the intensity, maybe consider panniers with additional weights.

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That is really interesting. Do you have any further reading on this that you can recommend? –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Sep 16 '11 at 22:25
    
luckily thats exactly what I do. :D –  mugetsu Sep 16 '11 at 22:40
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@ʍǝɥʇɐɯ I accepted an answer to skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3794/… which cited a study of carb and protein replenishment within the hour. –  ChrisW Sep 18 '11 at 14:46
    
Hey guys. Glycogen replacement is a different issue than how to make a commute a more effective workout. Although, I will say that glycogen replacement may very well be significant if one is doing interval training. –  user313 Sep 18 '11 at 23:19
    
@mugetsu - Seriously, don't add weight to your bike. Racers don't ride heavy cruisers during the winter; they ride their regular bikes but add intensity by doing intervals and adding volume to their training. The same principle applies to commuters who want to turn the commute into a workout. –  user313 Sep 18 '11 at 23:29

I would recommend take a different path to work everyday or every week if you can. Not only will it make for a longer more fitness path but will also be more interesting to see new sites every time.

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