Are you looking for the most effective way to burn calories, get your sweat on, and tone up, all without having to reschedule your entire day to fit it in?
If so, you should definitely try HIIT cycling.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a kind of cardiovascular training that can get your heart racing, sweat pouring, and calories burning, all in a fraction of the time that it would take you to go on a run or long bike ride. When paired with cycling, a cardio super-workout, this exercise could very well change your entire approach to fitness and be your ticket to a stronger and leaner you.
What Is HIIT?
As its name suggests, high-intensity interval training is, well, intense.
The idea behind this type of cardiovascular exercise is to put in maximum effort for short periods of time (or intervals). In a HIIT session, you would generally be performing very high-energy workouts to get your heart rate to about 80-95% of its maximum, interspersed with lower-intensity periods where you can recover and prepare for the next bout of intense, focused exercise.
The end result is a workout where you’re putting in the maximum amount of effort, which means that your body has to adapt and work hard to keep up. That equals a huge calorie burn in a much shorter period of time than it would take to do more “traditional” forms of cardio.
So HIIT is challenging, but it’s also very rewarding:
- As opposed to moderate-intensity, steady-state intensity like running and long-distance biking, HIIT is highly efficient when you’re trying to lose fat. It can be done in a shorter period of time while still burning a ton of calories. This means that no matter how busy your schedule is, you can do an effective workout in as little as fifteen minutes.
- HIIT is also a great exercise for people who are looking to lose fat without losing muscle. The high intensity of HIIT training means that you’re maximizing your heart rate while still challenging your muscles enough to preserve them during your weight loss journey.
Luckily, cycling is an excellent way to get a good HIIT workout in! As opposed to sitting on the bike for an hour at the same speed and intensity, HIIT cycling can take a fraction of the time while maximizing the effectiveness.
A Super-Effective 30 Minute HIIT Cycling Workout
All you’ll need for an effective HIIT cycling workout is a stationary bike or spin bike with adjustable resistance levels. You’ll want to consider both the resistance level of the bike and the speed at which you’re riding – for this exercise, aim to pedal at the same speed throughout the different intervals.
Put on your favorite high-tempo tunes and hop on the bike!
- 5-minute warmup at medium resistance
- 20 seconds of pedaling at high resistance, followed by 40 seconds recovery at low resistance. Repeat 5 times.
- 30 seconds at pedaling at high resistance, followed by 30 seconds recovery at low resistance. Repeat 5 times.
- 20 seconds of pedaling at high resistance, then 40 seconds of recovery at low resistance. Repeat 5 times.
- 30 seconds pedaling at high resistance, followed by 30 seconds recovery at low resistance. Repeat 5 times.
- Cooldown for the remaining five minutes at medium resistance and relaxed speed.
Frequently Asked Questions About HIIT Cycling
What should I eat if I’m doing HIIT?
There’s some debate over whether or not you should do your cardio workouts in a fasted state (aka on an empty stomach). While there’s evidence that doing lower-intensity cardio like jogging and steady-state cycling can be beneficial for weight loss, it’s not recommended to do HIIT on an empty stomach. Unlike steady-state cardio exercises, the high intensity of HIIT workouts means that you need ample fuel in your tank in the form of carbohydrates. Otherwise, your body needs to find another source of fuel – and unfortunately, that other source is usually the stored energy in your muscles.
So instead, aim to do your HIIT workouts a couple of hours after eating a hearty and nutritious meal with plenty of healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
What equipment do I need for HIIT cycling?
HIIT cycling doesn’t require a ton of equipment to get started. All you’ll need is a stationary or spin bike with adjustable resistances, suitable shoes, and comfortable athletic clothing. A smartwatch or FitBit is a useful tool to have during HIIT since you can monitor your heart rate and gauge whether you need to up the intensity. You’ll probably also want to have headphones and your favorite upbeat music to cycle to unless you’re doing your training in a class.
Finally, you’ll want to bring a towel to your next HIIT session – you’re going to need it once you start sweating!
Can HIIT cycling help me lose weight?
Absolutely. Weight loss is dependent on the calories you eat versus the calories that you burn every day. If you’re eating fewer calories than your body needs for energy, it will start turning to its energy stores, much of which is stored in your fat tissue. HIIT cycling is an excellent way to increase the number of calories that you burn every day.
So when paired with a balanced, portion-conscious diet, HIIT can increase your calorie deficit and help your body burn through its excess fat stores, leading to weight loss.
Is HIIT cycling suitable for beginners?
HIIT training is a highly effective way to get started on your fitness journey, but you should take some extra precautions if you’re a beginner and aren’t sure what your physical limitations are yet. The best ways to approach HIIT as a beginner are to start off slow and moderate exercises to your fitness levels so that you can learn your limits safely. Because it’s such an intense exercise, it’s also smart to consult your doctor prior to starting any fitness or weight loss routines especially if you have any preexisting health conditions.
If you’re ready to push your boundaries and start doing what it takes to burn through those fat stores, HIIT cycling is an excellent option. Get ready to reach your physical peaks and feel the burn!