6 HIIT Workouts You Can Do on Your Indoor Bike

Let’s be honest: A long, steady ride on an indoor cycling bike can drag on and on. HIIT cycling workouts, on the other hand, can make the time fly as you challenge your body and mind with various effort levels, work intervals, and recovery breaks.

Generally speaking, HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, refers to repeated sets of intervals that are between five seconds and a minute long, with a relatively short rest period. Cycling coach and certified personal trainer Marissa Axell tells SELF that while she tends to prescribe a 2:1 work-time-to-recovery-time ratio for her athletes, there are still plenty of benefits to longer rest intervals, especially for more gen-pop exercisers.

As SELF reported previously, HIIT is a type of anaerobic exercise, meaning it doesn’t rely on oxygen to produce the energy your body needs for your workout. Instead, it taps into your fast-acting energy pathways to produce it, which allow you to go *hard—*just not for an extended period of time. With HIIT, there’s a big focus on intensity, so it’s not surprising that a bunch of its benefits are related to power, speed, and explosiveness.

“HIIT improves your VO2 max—the rate at which your body processes oxygen, a huge indicator of fitness—your anaerobic capacity, your neuromuscular power, and your sprint,” Peloton cycling instructor and world-champion track racer Christine D’Ercole tells SELF. “Even if you’re not a [competitive] cyclist, they’re fun because they make you focus on very short durations of time, so they’re incredibly engaging.”

That’s why many popular fitness apps, like Peloton and iFit, use HIIT-based protocols in their classes, which can be a great introduction to these kinds of workouts. But a neat thing about HIIT is that it really lends itself to self-directed workouts, too, which can be a boon for when you want to cut down on screen time during your session, or just want to personalize your routine to what your body is looking for on that particular day. After all, a self-directed workout leaves room for you to shorten or lengthen your ride and efforts based on your needs and energy levels at that time.

Sometimes, though, you want some guidance on that indoor cycling bike, especially if you’re new to that particular piece of equipment, or had only previously cycled in fitness classes or through apps. As a former certified cycling instructor, I always incorporated high-intensity intervals into every class I taught because they are engaging, effective, and honestly pretty fun. Here, six HIIT cycling workouts you can try on your indoor bike that’ll make the time fly.

1. A solid warm-up

Before starting your intervals, warming up with at least five to 10 minutes of easier cycling can gradually elevate your heart rate and get the blood flowing to your muscles. This warm-up takes less than 15 minutes, and is similar to the one D’Ercole uses for her Peloton classes. It allows your body to ease into the intensity, and primes your heart and lungs for upcoming hard efforts.

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