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3 HIIT Cycling Workouts

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a popular type of exercise that can help you torch tons of calories in a short amount of time. HIIT isn’t just limited to the gym or an indoor class but is a staple among indoor training routines. You can even complete HIIT workouts on your indoor bike!

What is a HIIT cycling workout?

A woman riding her indoor bike looking at the tv training.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) consists of repeated sets of short intervals of maximum-effort training. These intervals are broken up into periods of recovery. 

When it comes to HIIT cycling workouts, there’s no specific way to do it. Instead, all you have to do is cycle hard with great intensity, on and off, to complete a round of HIIT on your indoor bike. It can be as structured or unstructured as you like, which is great news if you’re looking for a flexible and effective workout you can do indoors.

What are the benefits of HIIT cycling workouts?

A male on stationary bike at home riding his bike.

HIIT cycling workouts are very popular among athletes for many reasons. Just a few of the benefits of HIIT include:

  • You can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. You can complete each HIIT cycling workout in less than an hour and burn the same number of calories (or more) as you would burn with a longer workout session.1
  • It increases your metabolic rate for hours after you exercise. Several research studies have shown HIIT cycling workouts elevate your metabolism for hours after you’re done exercising, increasing your overall daily calorie burn.2
  • You can lose fat and gain muscle. Despite its smaller time commitment, research indicates HIIT cycling workouts can help you lose fat and reduce your waist circumference, especially if you’re obese.3 HIIT may also help certain individuals gain muscle as well.4
  • It will help you improve your VO2 max. HIIT cycling workouts can also help you improve your muscles’ ability to use oxygen, which translates to more energy and improved performance during exercise.5
  • It improves your heart health. For overweight people, HIIT cycling workouts can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.6

Although HIIT cycling workouts are an excellent workout for your overall health, they shouldn’t replace all other forms of exercise in your routine. For instance, if you only do HIIT cycling workouts, you’ll struggle with your endurance (since HIIT cycling workouts focus on short, intense bursts of cycling). Instead, it’s best to balance HIIT cycling workouts with other types of cycling sessions for a more balanced training routine.

Are HIIT cycling workouts on a bike effective?

A male on a spin bike looking down on the ground in gym.

Completing a HIIT workout on a bike is just as effective as any other HIIT workout. In fact, research suggests people can torch just as many calories with about 20 minutes of HIIT cycling as they can with longer continuous exercise routines.7

So, if you’re short on time or looking to get the most out of a quick cycling workout, HIIT is the way to go. Just make sure you don’t overdo it since HIIT is very physically demanding.

How often should I do HIIT cycling?

Woman on indoor bike at gym looking out the window.

It’s best to do HIIT cycling workouts two to three times a week. Any more than that isn’t manageable for most athletes. 

HIIT cycling workouts are physically intense, so if you’re doing them correctly, you shouldn’t be physically able to do them every day. If you’re doing them daily, you’re most likely overtraining, which can be harmful to your health.

Giving your body adequate rest between HIIT workouts will alleviate excessive fatigue, overuse injuries, and burnout.

HIIT workouts you can do on your indoor bike

A man helping a female on an indoor bike and giving instructions.

HIIT cycling workouts are engaging, effective, and fun! If you want to incorporate them into your weekly cycling routine, here are a few workouts you can do on your indoor bike.

HIIT cycling workout #1

  • Warm up by pedaling lightly at medium resistance for about 4 minutes.
  • Pedal at a high resistance for 15 seconds at full effort.
  • Pedal at a low resistance for 1 minute and 15 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 rounds of full effort/high resistance cycling for 15 seconds, followed by a “rest” period of low resistance cycling for 1 minute 15 seconds.
  • Once you’ve been cycling for 10 minutes total, pedal at high resistance at full speed for 20 seconds.
  • Then, pedal at a low resistance for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
  • Complete 6 rounds of this pattern.
  • Slow down and pedal at a slow resistance for about 5 minutes.

HIIT cycling workout #2

This workout consists of three sets focusing on speed, resistance, and power. Before you begin, warm up by pedaling lightly at medium resistance for about 4 minutes.

Set 1:

  • Pedal as fast as you can at light resistance for 30 seconds.
  • Pedal easy for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Set 2:

  • Pedal at a high resistance at around 60 to 70 revolutions per minute (rpm) for 30 seconds.
  • Pedal easy for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Set 3:

  • Pedal at a medium-high resistance at around 90 to 100 rpm for 30 seconds.
  • Pedal easy for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

HIIT cycling workout #3

  • Warm up for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Pedal as hard as you can for 20 seconds.
  • Complete 10 seconds of easy pedaling.
  • Repeat this cycle 8 times.
  • Pedal easy for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat the whole sequence one more time.

To make HIIT cycling workouts more exciting, you can also explore Vingo routes around the globe as you rotate through sequences of pedaling quickly and resting. With more to look at and experience as you ride, these HIIT workouts will fly by, and you’ll be done before you know it.

Key Takeaways:

HIIT cycling is a fun and effective way to exercise on an indoor bike, especially if you’re short on time or want to maximize your results with less time spent working out. HIIT is also easy to do on an indoor bike with repeated sequences of alternating fast and slow pedaling at various resistance levels.

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Sources:

  1. Falcone, P. H., Tai, C. Y., Carson, L. R., Joy, J. M., Mosman, M. M., McCann, T. R., Crona, K. P., Kim, M. P., & Moon, J. R. (2015). Caloric Expenditure of Aerobic, Resistance, or Combined High-Intensity Interval Training Using a Hydraulic Resistance System in Healthy Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(3), 779–785. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000000661   
  2. Wingfield, H. L., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Melvin, M. N., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., Hackney, A. C., Weaver, M. A., & Ryan, E. D. (2015). The acute effect of exercise modality and nutrition manipulations on post-exercise resting energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in women: a randomized trial. Sports Medicine – Open, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-015-0010-3 
  3. Atakan, M. M., Li, Y., Koşar, K. N., Turnagöl, H. H., & Yan, X. (2021). Evidence-Based Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Exercise Capacity and Health: A Review with Historical Perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(13), 7201. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18137201 
  4. Martins, C., Kazakova, I., Ludviksen, M., Mehus, I., Wisloff, U., Kulseng, B., Morgan, L., & King, N. (2016). High-Intensity Interval Training and Isocaloric Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training Result in Similar Improvements in Body Composition and Fitness in Obese Individuals. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 26(3), 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0078 
  5. Kong, Z., Fan, X., Sun, S., Song, L., Shi, Q., & Nie, J. (2016). Comparison of High-Intensity Interval Training and Moderate-to-Vigorous Continuous Training for Cardiometabolic Health and Exercise Enjoyment in Obese Young Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLOS ONE, 11(7), e0158589. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158589 
  6. Skutnik, B. C., Smith, J. R., Johnson, A. M., Kurti, S. P., & Harms, C. A. (2016). The Effect of Low Volume Interval Training on Resting Blood Pressure in Pre-hypertensive Subjects: A Preliminary Study. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 44(2), 177–183. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.2016.1159501 
  7. Boutcher, S. H. (2011). High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/868305 

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