LAST UPDATED 24 JANUARY 2019
In the time-poor modern age, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) could be the answer to all our fitness problems: A fast-paced full body workout in only 20-30 minutes, where your metabolism can stay in a heightened state for up to 24 hours afterwards, burning extra calories even while you sleep. Not only does it increase your cardio fitness and metabolic rate, it also promises to maintain lean muscle mass and burn fat in the fastest time possible.
Cycling HIIT, or HIIT on a bicycle, is an extremely effective way to become leaner, fitter and stronger due to the sheer number of muscles used – not only your legs, but your back, abdominal muscles, and even your biceps (for example by pulling on the handlebars when accelerating). A BBC documentary suggests 40 seconds, three times a week is all you need to do to see results.
There are two ways you can approach HIIT by bike; one is in the comfort of your own home using a smart trainer, and the other is in the great outdoors – which, if you ask us, beats a spinning class any day of the week.
Cycling HIIT program
As with all exercise, you should begin with a 5-10 minute warm up to loosen up your joints and muscles to prevent risk of injury. You can do this on your bike with some slow pedalling. Then begin a HIIT program like this one:
- 45 seconds full throttle pedalling
- 45 seconds easy pedalling
- Repeat 6 times
- After the 6th repetition, do 3 minutes easy pedalling for extra rest
- Repeat the whole thing once more
It may sound simple, but believe us when we say it is a truly challenging workout clocking in at around 25 minutes of intense work. Every 2 weeks, you could try and make it even more challenging as your body adjusts, by reducing the rest time and/or doing more repetitions.
What You Need for Indoor HIIT Cycling
You need a bicycle – have a look at our 2020 bikes to see which one suits you best – and you’ll need a turbo trainer such as the Tacx Blue Matic Folding Magnetic Trainer T2650. To avoid shredding your nice road bike’s rear tyre, we also recommend the Tacx Trainer Tyre.
To truly take your indoor training to the next level, a Smart Trainer such as the Tacx Neo Smart Trainer T2800 connects to your smartphone, tablet or GPS computer so that you can access and monitor all of your stats and track your progress over time. With a tablet you can ride in virtual races against virtual or real riders from anywhere in the world.
Read our blog on Tacx Turbo Trainers
What to wear for HIIT
As with any intense workout, you should expect to sweat – in this case, a lot. For that reason, your HIIT clothing should be sweat-wicking, comfortable, and breathable. A pair of cycling shorts / bib-shorts and Short Sleeve Jersey are particularly popular.
Recovering from HIIT
Due to the intensity of HIIT, it is taxing on the body, and so you should limit your sessions to 3 times a week maximum. It is important to allow the body to recover, and you can ensure your body gets what it needs with dedicated Sports Nutrition. Brands such as Science in Sport and Torq are popular (and tasty!).