5 Of The Best HIIT Cycling Workouts
One of the reasons HIIT is so popular is how flexible this format of training is. Whether you prefer cardio, strength training, plyometrics or low-impact exercises, you can create a HIIT version of your favourite workout by alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest.
One piece of kit that lends particularly well to HIIT workouts is the exercise bike. If you enjoy cycling and want an effective way to improve your fitness, or are looking for a low-impact cardio option to burn calories and fat, HIIT cycling could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Here, we’ll cover all things HIIT cycling, as well as five example workouts you can get started with today.
Is Cycling A HIIT Workout?
Not all cycling will be HIIT, but cycling can easily be turned into a HIIT workout. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and refers to a workout style that consists of short periods of high-energy movement alternated with periods of low-intensity or even rest. So almost any kind of activity can be considered HIIT if you follow the interval-style format, including cycling!
We’ve already covered HIIT rowing, and it’s a very similar approach for cycling - while steady cycling wouldn’t count as HIIT, you just need to alternate high-intensity and low-intensity intervals.
What Are The Benefits Of HIIT Cycling?
There are many reasons to include HIIT training in your fitness routines. In fact, it’s such an effective training approach that you can achieve all the benefits of a steady-state workout (burning fat, increasing VO2 max, better heart health, improved fitness) in a much shorter amount of time. You can learn more about the benefits of HIIT here.
Cycling HIIT in particular is fantastic because it’s low-impact, so it’s easy on the joints, meaning it’s a good option for people of all fitness levels.
How To Do HIIT Cycling
The flexibility of the HIIT workout format means you can do it on either your own bicycle or on the stationary bike at the gym. However, static exercise bikes do have more control over the intensity options and can be safer as you don’t have to worry about traffic or pedestrians!
When doing HIIT on a static bike, you can increase and decrease the intensity in two ways:
- Turning the resistance up for high intensity periods and turning it off for rest periods
- Keeping the resistance the same throughout but increasing speed for high intensity periods and reducing speed for rest periods
We have shared five HIIT cycling workouts to try later in this blog, but if you want to create your own workout here are some tips.
- Start with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes of gentle cycling
- Alternate between high-intensity and rest periods for the duration of your workout
- Finish with around 5 minutes of gentle cycling to cool down, and then some stretches to help prevent muscle soreness
There are many different timings and approaches you can take, but we recommend starting with shorter periods of high intensity and longer recovery sections (e.g. 10 seconds at full energy and 50 seconds of recovery) and then adjusting the durations as you build your fitness. The total length of the intervals should only be 20 minutes (or less).
Can You Do HIIT Cycling Training And Go To The Gym?
Yes, you can combine HIIT cycling with gym workouts - it’s a great combination to improve your overall health and fitness!
Strength training workouts are excellent for building muscle and strength, but you should also work on your cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance. HIIT cycling workouts are an effective way to do this, as well as burn calories.
One approach is to include a five-to-ten-minute HIIT cycling session at the end of your strength training session - you can make the most of the gym’s weights equipment and the indoor bike in one visit.
If you’d rather keep the two separate, or prefer longer HIIT sessions, then you can include one or two cycling HIIT sessions on days when you’re not in the gym. Just make sure to include rest days to allow your body to recuperate.
Can You Do HIIT Cycling Every Day?
Due to its high-intensity, energetic nature, it’s generally not recommended to do HIIT workouts of any kind every day - this can increase your risk of injury, place stress on the body, and hinder recovery. Instead, aim for at least one day of rest or active recovery between HIIT cycling workouts (yoga is a particularly good rest day activity for cyclists), or alternate with strength training workouts (but still make sure to include at least one or two rest days a week).
5 Of The Best HIIT Cycling Workouts
Finding the right HIIT style for your fitness levels and ability might take a bit of trial and error, but here are 5 of our favourite approaches for you to try:
30/30 HIIT cycling workout: This is a classic HIIT workout that involves alternating between 30 seconds of all-out cycling effort and 30 seconds of gentle cycling. Do this for a total of 20 minutes.
5x5 cycling HIIT workout: This is a full-on workout that involves 5 sets of 5 minutes of all-out effort, with 2 minutes of rest in between each set.
Tabata HIIT cycling workout: Tougher than it sounds, this workout is based on the Tabata protocol. For this, you’ll complete 20 seconds of full cycling effort followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 rounds.
Hill repeats cycling HIIT workout: This workout involves riding up a hill as hard as you can for a set amount of time, then coasting down the hill to recover. If you’re on a stationary bike, increase the resistance, and if you’re a bicycle outside, just find your nearest, biggest hill and give it your all.
Variable-intensity HIIT workout: This workout involves alternating between different intensities of effort, such as riding at a moderate pace for 1 minute, then sprinting for 30 seconds, and repeating.
Discover a wide range of different HIIT workouts over on our HIIT hub, and learn more about how this training format can work for you. Looking for more ways to get the benefits of cycling? Check out our guide to the exercise bike and weight loss here.
You could also consider booking a session with a dedicated Personal Trainer at PureGym - they’re able to offer a wealth of advice for both fitness and nutrition and will be able to help you shape your HIIT workouts to suit your needs.