Is 30 Minutes of Bike Riding Enough? What Can You Expect?


Cycling is a great activity that can help you to get fit and lose some weight. But how much cycling is necessary and how much is sufficient to reach your goals?

Riding the bike for 30 minutes three or four times a week can help you accelerate weight loss and significantly improve your fitness level. Riding for 30 minutes 4 times a week at a moderate intensity level burns approximately 2.5 lb of fat each per month. 

How much weight you can actually lose and how fast you can get fit depend on a few factors which we’re going to see in detail now.

30 minutes cycling and weight loss

The average person burns approximately 400 to 700 cal of energy with half an hour of cycling in average riding conditions. In order to lose 1 lb of fat, you need to burn 3500 cal, which is the equivalent of  5 to 7 hours of moderate cycling. 

This doesn’t seem very encouraging at first because cycling for half an hour when you’re only starting out, is quite demanding for your body, especially if you do it several days in a row. It goes to show you that it’s impossible to lose weight cycling all the while having a poor diet and excessive calorie intake. 

However, if you watch what you eat and couple your diet with regular bike rides, then 30 minutes of cycling several times a week is a great way to accelerate weight loss.

Since we’re considering fitness and weight loss primarily (and not the diet part), we’re going to focus on what you can achieve with 30 minutes of regular cycling. 

To get a more accurate calculation of how much energy you can expect to burn, you can use this online calculator, but here are some examples of how much a 185 lbs person and a 220 lbs person can expect to burn with 30 minutes of cycling, and how many lbs of fat-loss it translates to.

30 minutes of cyclingCalories burnedWeight loss per month in lbsWeight loss per month in kg
1x per week5000.60.3
2x per week10001.10.5
3x per week15001.70.8
4x per week20002.31.0
5x per week25002.91.3
6x per week30003.41.6
7x per week35004.01.8
185 lb (approx 85 kg) person cycling for 30 minutes at a speed of 15 mph (24 km/h)

30 minutes of cycling Calories burnedWeight loss per month in lbsWeight loss per month in kg
1x per week6000.7 lbs0.3 kg
2x per week12001.4 lbs0.6 kg
3x per week18002.1 lbs0.9 kg
4x per week24002.7 lbs1.2 kg
5x per week30003.4 lbs1.6 kg
6x per week36004.1 lbs1.9 kg
7x per week42004.8 lbs2.2 kg
220 lbs (approx 100 kg) person cycling for 30 minutes at a speed of 15 mph (24 km/h)

You need to keep in mind that riding more than 3 or 4 times a week is challenging for a beginner. It’s recommended to start out with fewer rides and add days of training as you get fitter and your knees and joints get used to cycling.

How far can you ride in 30 minutes

Most new cyclists can ride between 5 and 8 miles in 30 minutes. You can expect to ride at an average speed of 10-16 mph (19 – 26 km/h) on a flat road. As the weather and the terrain change, the average speed and the distance covered are going to change also.

If you ride a mountain bike on technical terrain, your speed may be as slow as 8-10 mph (13-16 km/h) or even lower, or if you ride a gravel bike on a gravel road, you may reach an average speed of 10-12 mph (16 – 19 km/h).

If you ride in the city, you also need to factor in traffic. In my experience, I can ride my 10-mile commute from home to my office in 45 minutes on a good day, but it may take up to 55 minutes on a bad day with a lot of headwinds and traffic.

It’s good to know how much you can ride in a given time frame, but unless you are a bike commuter, and you need to get to your destination in time, the speed doesn’t really matter; your effort is much more important.

Type of ridingAverage speedDistance ridden in 30 minutes
Paved roads13-16 mph (21-26 km/h)6.5-8 miles (10.5-13 km)
MTB8-13 mph (13-21 km/h)4-6.5 miles (6.5-10.5 km)
Gravel riding10-14 mph (16-22 km/h)5-7 miles (8-11 km)
Commuting (city and urban)10-14 mph (16-22 km/h)5-7 miles (8-11 km)

The following factors come into play in determining how fast you’re going to be in the order of importance:

  • Your fitness level
  • Terrain
  • Headwind or crosswind
  • Type of bicycle
  • Tire width and pressure

How fast can your fitness improve with 30-minute rides?

Many new cyclists who try it out for the first time report that they find it really difficult to ride even short distances. An unfit person may feel the need to take a break after 10-15 minutes of riding. If you fall in this category, there is no shame in this, and no need to panic or throw in the towel prematurely. In fact, I have some great news for you.

If you’re a rider without much prior experience, and you struggle to stay in the saddle for 30 minutes initially, you will be surprised just how fast your fitness level improves over time. In fact, you’re going to notice an improved fitness level way before you see weight loss results. 

If you can only ride 10-15 minutes without taking a break initially, and you get on your bike 2-3 times a week, you will be able to ride for 30 minutes without any problem within three weeks. Your fitness level is going to improve exponentially at the beginning. 

After a month of cycling regularly, you’re going to feel energized, and you’re going to be fit enough to ride uphill, even on moderately hard climbs, and you’re going to notice a much-improved fitness level in other areas of life (such as not being out of breath when climbing stairs).

How often should you cycle

When you start out new, you should aim to ride your bike 2-4 times a week depending on your current fitness level. Riding less than twice a week isn’t going to give your muscles a sufficient workout, and riding more than 4 times a week is going to be too tolling on your body initially.

Remember that a new rider’s muscles and joints need to get time to get used to riding, and they need time to recover

How often you should get in the saddle once you’ve reached a certain level of fitness really depends on what your goal is and whether you do any other type of physical activity other than cycling. 

It’s recommended to do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 5 times a week in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be cycling 5 times a week or any combination of cycling, running and walking.

The main thing is to find something that you enjoy doing and something that you can maintain as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Happy pedaling!

Bike Commuter Hero

When it comes to Cycling to Work, SAM IS THE MAN because he doesn't just talk the talk, but he also walks the walk - or rides the ride, to be more precise... Come, pedal with me and be a HERO!

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