CYCLING VS THE GYM – WHICH IS BETTER?

Shaun George BOTS Guides

We’re all working towards that new year’s resolution of ours – which is usually to see a fitter and healthier version of ourselves. Maybe you want to lose a few kilos, or maybe you simply want to remain fit. Either way, both cycling and hitting the gym are great ways to reach that goal. Essentially, you need to indulge yourself in some sort of physical activity. There are some ways that help you get there easier or maybe faster. Today we’re going to help you understand if cycling or gymming is the way to go.

Indoor spin classes
Cycling indoors

One would argue that this debate is one-sided. This opinion will vary from person to person. It’s really up to your own preferences. Cycling is a great overall sport to undertake especially if you’re pressed for time. Going to the gym, however, is a little more complicated than that. You need time, money, and motivation (a lot of it).

It’s recommended to partake in anywhere between 75 to to 150 minutes of exercise a week (minimum), and cycling is a great way to get those minutes done for people just starting to get fit.

WHICH IS BEST?

Cycling is such a great form of exercise because it’s accessible, great for any age, low-impact which is perfect for people with joint injuries. It also enables you to work your lower and upper body muscles at the same time.

weight lifting

Gym rats on the other hand will argue that the benefits of cycling can be found in the gym as well (and rightfully so), which is why it is time to forget the age-old cycling vs gym argument. So instead of choosing either option as the alternative to the other, we intend to show you how a combination of both methods of working out are equally as good.

1. EFFECTIVENESS

We’d like to think that cycling and a bit of weight lifting at the gym go hand in hand. Cycling is going to help you burn a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time. This is especially true if you’re cycling at a consistently brisk pace. For those interested in weight loss, cycling is a great way to do that – remember, you need to keep the ride fast-paced and challenging.

Hitting the gym every now and then isn’t a bad idea either. Weight lifting (not too heavy) is good to help you build strength overall and burn some fat. Putting on some muscle is good as it will improve your metabolism too. Include some bodyweight exercises too and you’re going to see a world of a difference in your overall fitness levels.

It’s been observed that you’re more likely to put in more effort when exercising outdoors (such as with cycling). Think about it, have you ever felt that 30 minutes on a static bike felt like forever while 30 minutes cycling along country lanes felt like no time at all? It’s been established that there is a difference in how you perceive effort depending on whether you are working out indoors or out.

2. COSTS

With increasingly tight budgets these days. Is it cycling or gymming that’s cheaper?

There are a lot of variables here but let’s look at some averages. The average person spends about Rs.5,000 per month on a gym membership. A good fitness oriented bicycle can cost upto Rs.35,000. So as a lump sum you’re spending more on a bike along with a few accessories but in the long run things are different. Rs.5,000 a year amounts to Rs.60,000 for a whole year! Now this isn’t too bad if you actually use the gym everyday – let’s face it, most of us don’t. A bicycle on the other hand, is a much simpler investment – take it out whenever you want. It’s always with you.

There’s always a rush to join gyms in January, but on average people only manage to attend regularly for the first 10 weeks so not only are they paying for the privilege, they aren’t getting the exercise either.

3. TIME

Whether its school, college or our day-to-day jobs. We’re all pressed for time these days.

This is where we face our biggest obstacle. Finding time to get to the gym and then finding time in your life to fit it in around work, home life and social life is a challenge.

The great thing about cycling is that you can use it to get places, say to work. This means that you are using the time that you’d otherwise spend sitting on a bus, train, or car anyway as your exercise time. 3-4 weekly rides to the office a week is a far more achievable goal for people with a busy lifestyle than trying to fit in a gym session before or after work.

Bike to work

Besides, even a good vigorous 30-minute a day ride in the morning is good enough to sustain throughout the week even when tight on time.

The monsoon season is one great time of the year to be hitting the gym. You’re better off getting an indoor workout that being out cycling on the slippery and water flooded roads. If you still want to cycle – look at investing in an indoor cycling trainer.

Do read our buyers guide on HOW TO CHOOSE INDOOR BICYCLE TRAINERS – BUYERS GUIDE

4. VARIETY

Gyms have a lot of variety when it comes to targeting different parts of your body. They have everything from free weights to strange contraptions with straps to yoga classes to dance classes. They’re ideal for those who like to mix things up a bit with their routine. But there’s still an element of monotony as you’re going to the same place everyday, performing similar exercise everyday and seeing the same faces everyday.

Cycling however can be quite a refresher. Cycling too has many different dimensions to it. Long steady kilometers on your road bike are great for fat burning, intense races are brilliant for a cardiovascular workout, and technical descents on a mountain bike will work your arms, legs, and core, improving your overall balance and focus. Additionally, every ride is different, there are newer things to see on every ride. You can choose different routes and experience a variety of different types of riding styles – a simple leisurely ride can very quickly turn into a fat-burning workout.

5. SOCIALIZATION

This is a factor not many people think about, but it’s something that adds to the overall fun factor.

When you think of the typical gym-goer, you think of somebody carrying a water bottle, a mobile phone, and a set of headphones. Despite the public, communal nature of gyms, it often seems that people go there to block themselves off from everybody else.

That’s ok of course but on a bike, you can keep yourself to yourself or you can also choose to say hi to people as you pass. Interaction with fellow riders isn’t such a bad thing — in fact, quite often it brightens everyone’s day. Group rides are a great way to socialize and also help improve as a rider as some riders will be better than the others – an opportunity to learn and improve.


To sum it up, we don’t recommend one way of staying fit over the other. Both working out in the gym, and cycling have their own advantages. It would be best to try and incorporate both into your fitness routine. Try different workouts during the week to mix things up a bit. We hope we’ve made you one step closer to getting on a bicycle or getting into the gym for a workout.

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