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Zumba vs. Indoor Cycling

When you head to the gym, you face the tough decision of pedaling up a frenzy in a cycling class or shaking your booty on the fitness room floor. Which workout is going to give you the better bang for your exercise buck?

Zumba and indoor cycling both provide a high-energy workout that burns a lot of calories in a small amount of time. You can adapt them for a variety of age groups and fitness levels. However, there are several key differences between the two that may make one more desirable than the other for your own exercise program.

Read more: Basic Zumba Moves

Calories Burned

The calories burned in Zumba and indoor cycling depend on your intensity; hit it hard and sizzle more calories. Generally speaking, Zumba burns between 350 and 900 calories per hour. The average person typically burns about 400 to 500 calories per 40-minute workout in an indoor cycling class. As with any workout, your weight, body type and the intensity level of your workout ultimately determine how many calories you burn.

Muscles Used

Zumba works your total-body while indoor cycling primarily engages the muscles in the lower body. In Zumba, you'll engage the core muscles, as well as the hips, thighs, calves and arms — especially if you head to Zumba toning. Indoor cycling works the quadriceps and hamstrings and glutes. Your upper body is largely left out of a cycling workout, though some stabilizing muscles of the back do kick in.

Read more: What Muscles are Used When Riding a Bike?

The Zumba Workout

If workouts could be said to have personalities, Zumba and indoor cycling are often opposites. A Zumba workout is high-energy and involves lots of booty-shaking and hip rocking. The official Zumba website describes it as an "exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party." If you have reservations about dancing in front of other people, you might not enjoy it. Then again, you might find that it helps you break out of your shell and shed a few pounds as well.

Indoor Cycling Workout

Indoor cycling is also fun and energizing, but with a bit more reserve. A typical stationary cycling class lasts about 40 minutes and involves several cycling drills done to music. Stationary bikes allow the participants to adjust resistance settings to their own comfort level, and the instructor provides guidance and demonstrates drills. If you reach an advanced level, you can do difficult moves like jumps and sprints to get a more intense workout and burn more calories. In an average class, participants will cycle about 15 to 20 miles on the stationary bike.

Party on a Bike

If you enjoy the party atmosphere of Zumba, but want the lower impact of cycling, check out some of the newer incarnations of cycling. You can find karaoke cycle, cycle that has you bouncing around to the music and cycle with flashing club lights. Your best step is to try both classes and see which fits your goals and fun-level.

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About the Author

Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.

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