Why You'll Love HIIT Exercise Bike Workouts (and How to Do One)

Man on Upright Exercise Bike doing a HIIT exercise bike workout

High Intensity Interval Training is one of the most popular and effective approaches to cardiovascular exercise. Research demonstrates that HIIT bike workouts reduce body fat, increase cardiovascular capacity, and even help to control type II diabetes.  On top of that, HIIT exercise bike workouts are efficient.  Replacing one or more of your moderate intensity cardio sessions with HIIT training each week, means you can get the same benefit in less timeIn clinical studies, this lead to better compliance and better results in sticking to training plans.  If you’re feeling crunched for time, HIIT bike workouts may keep you from letting your fitness slide.

Why your exercise bike is a great HIIT workout:

When you’re focused on the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of HIIT, using a low impact option lets you really drive up the intensity of your workout.  HIIT bike workouts will build endurance and increase your post workout calorie burn.  This can improve your performance in other sports, including high impact running and weight lifting.  Using an indoor cycle meets the needs of those who are looking for an intense workout while protecting their joints.  HIIT exercise bike workouts can even help you to build strength in your core, quads, and glutes. This improves your alignment and form in other activities.

Quick & Effective HIIT Exercise Bike Workouts:

None of these workouts will take you more than 30 minutes, making them an efficient training option for busy holiday weeks.  Your post exercise calorie burn will be higher after these workouts, so it helps to offset the damage of your holiday celebrations!

Sprint 8:

Research based, individualized, and quick!  This preprogrammed workout available on Matrix and some Vision equipment will respond to your performance. It’s guaranteed to give you results whether you’re an experienced athlete or are trying HIIT for the first time.  Best of all, the entire workout takes only 20 minutes and has the research to back it up.

30 Minute SIT:

Short for Sprint Interval Training, you’ll alternate periods of about 30 seconds full effort with 90 seconds of rest.  Varying your resistance and cadence will keep your muscles guessing for better strength and performance.  The entire workout is 30 minutes.  You can reduce this on busy days by dropping one or more of the drills.   The key to this workout is to go as hard as you can for the short work period.

  • Warm up: 4 minutes.  Starting with a light to moderate resistance, warm up at an easy pace for 90 seconds.  Increase your resistance and pace to an uncomfortable pace for 30 seconds.  Repeat.
  • Speed (drill 1, 6 minutes).  After recovering (total rest) for 90 seconds, reduce your load to a moderate level.  For 30 seconds, pedal as fast as you can.  Maintain engagement in your quads and core by firmly pulling on your handlebars and pressing through the ball of your foot. Rest for 90 seconds. Repeat for 2 more rounds.
  • Explosion (drill 2, 6 minutes): Recover for 90 seconds while increasing your load to a light, heavy load (less than the heaviest resistance you can use).  For 30 seconds, increase your speed to move as quickly as you can.  This should be 20-40 RPM slower than your speed pace.  Repeat for 2 more rounds.
  • Heavy Press (drill 3, 6 minutes): After you recover for 90 seconds, this drill will build strength in your quads and glutes as you press and pull the heaviest load you can manage.  For safety, you should be able to manage a cadence of at least 60 RPM.  If not, slightly decrease your load until you can increase your pace. As you pedal, press through your heels, keep your hips back over the pedals and think about pulling back on the handlebars to build strength in your glutes.  Do two, 45 second work sets with 90 seconds of recovery.  The extra 15 seconds will let you build momentum at the beginning and give you enough time for a full effort.
  • Tabata (drill 4, 4 minutes): Reducing your load slightly, complete 8 rounds of Tabata.  That is, 20 seconds of full effort followed by ten seconds of rest.  I like to do these out of the saddle, shooting for a cadence that matches the pace of the Explosion drill.
  • Cool Down (4 minutes): Reduce your resistance back to a light level and complete 4 minutes of easy cycling.

Sweet and Simple HIIT:

Customize this HIIT workout to your preferred cadence, resistance and duration.  After warming up for 4 minutes, your workout consists of one minute efforts and one minute rest periods.  Complete up to ten rounds for a total workout of less than 30 minutes.  Finish with 3-4 minute cool down.

How to pick the right HIIT Exercise Bike.

Because HIIT bike workouts are simple, you can get away with fewer bells and whistles on your console.  At a minimum, you want a bike that will perform well. It should have a high weight capacity and a wide range of options for cadence and resistance. Exercise bikes that can be used for HIIT include indoor studio style cycles, upright bikes, and recumbent bikes.  Here are my recommendations.

  • Indoor Cycle: This Echelon Indoor Cycle, will meet your needs if you’re comfortable using a studio style spin bike. Much cheaper than it’s alternatives, the Echelon bike allows you to add your own device like a tablet as your console. Then, just download their app to experience real-time and on-demand classes.
  • Upright Bike: If you’re concerned about your low back, an upright bike is a universally forgiving option. Matrix’s U50 is a high end, club quality machine with almost limitless programming options for the console. This bike also works especially well if you want to complement your HIIT workouts with moderate intensity endurance sessions.  Preprogrammed options will take the guesswork out of your training week. Features like Bluetooth and WIFI integration coupled with streaming and surfing capabilities will make longer sessions fly by.
  • Recumbent Bike: Wondering if you can do HIIT on a recumbent bike? Like the U50, Matrix’s R50 offers loads of options for the console, a high user weight/durability, and easy step through design. Since the position of a recumbent bike requires greater engagement in the quads and core, focus on using these muscles during each interval. Start with shorter durations (30 seconds), really focusing on driving through the top of the thighs while slightly pressing the ball of your foot down and engaging the core.  As you get stronger, you can increase the duration of your intervals.


Getting Started on HIIT Bike Workouts:

Introduce HIIT gradually so that you can maximize its benefits and increase your likelihood of sticking to your plan. Once you’ve built an endurance base, expand by increasing their intensity choosing one of the workouts below.  Start by substituting one intense workout for your moderate intensity session each week.  Over time you can build up to as many as three HIIT bike workouts per week, allowing one day between workouts for recovery. You’ll find the biggest advantage to your HIIT exercise bike workouts is efficiency.  Rather than requiring hours of moderate intensity training, 20 to 30 minutes is all that’s required during a HIIT session.

Are you ready for HIIT?

HIIT exercise bike workout is more forgiving than jumping right into an intense running or weight training program. If you’re new to exercise, build up to at least 3, 20-30 minute sessions on your bike for 2 to 4 weeks before adding in HIIT training. While it’s tempting to jump into it, this preparation makes it more likely to stick to the habit. Building up to it also reduces your risk of injury by preparing your muscles for the intensity of the work.  Once you’ve developed the habit, you’re ready to go! Expand your workouts by introducing a HIIT session each week or increasing the frequency and duration of your training sessions.

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