HIIT Cycling Benefits

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HIIT Cycling Benefits

When it comes to HIIT, there are many different forms that you can choose from. You can do HIIT with Crossfit, weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, or even cardio exercises. But today we’re going to talk about HIIT cycling benefits. Cycling is a great form of exercise because it’s low impact and easy on the joints. It also provides a great cardiovascular workout. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of HIIT cycling and how it can help you reach your fitness goals!

Why even perform HIIT workouts?

If you haven´t had any contact with high intensity interval training so far, let us give you a brief introduction.

HIIT workouts are built around a number of high intensity intervals followed by recovery periods and this pattern is repeated a certain number of times.

To put this into numbers, you could do a basic HIIT session on your stationary bike at home by giving your best and going all out for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of recovery.

This 60/60 pattern can then be repeated for example 5 times. Or 6 times. Or even 10 times.

You don´t have to stick to a 60 seconds on and 60 seconds off pattern! You can also do 60 seconds on and 120 seconds off – or even 60 seconds on and 180 seconds off.

At the end of your HIIT workout, you should be close to or have even reached “muscle failure” which translates into “I just can´t go any further than this”.

black and white picture of indoor bike
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So – what are the benefits of doing this?

In order to answer this question let´s have a look at how our bodies generate energy:

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

Short bursts of high power output with a duration of around 30 seconds are made possible by the anaerobic energy system.

Actually, there are two anaerobic energy systems but to keep things simple we will act as if there was only one…

A remnant from the past

Many many years back, we needed very quick provisioning of energy to flee from threats.

We might not have to run from dinosaurs anymore, but the energy system to provide the necessary energy to our muscles is still there.

So we use it in our leisure activities like sport – or when we need to be quick to grab a free goodie – or when somebody much bigger than ourselves obviously wants to pull us into an unfriendly argument…

How the anaerobic system works

The anaerobic energy system uses anaerobic glycolysis by breaking down glucose molecules in order to provide the muscles with immediate energy and bridge the gap before the aerobic energy system is able to transport oxygen to our muscles and keep them working.

The bad news is that glucose molecules are stored only in very limited quantities in our muscles.

Once the glucose is burned, our body will move over to our ATP storage which also won´t last very long.

After that, oxygen from our aerobic system is needed to keep our muscles working and regenerate the glucose and ATP supply in our muscles.

Here maximal oxygen uptake is key – the more oxygen you can provide, the better your aerobic system will perform.

So the anaerobic system is the system we go for when we are looking for strength, explosiveness, and speed – in short: the quick provisioning of power!

On the other hand, the aerobic system is the one that enables us to keep performing for a longer period of time but at lower power levels.

Why HIIT makes us perform better

The answer to our headline question – why we even do HIIT workouts – is to improve the ability of our bodies to provide higher levels of (anaerobic) power output for a longer period of time.

We force our bodies to perform longer with more strength and additionally recover quicker from a very high intensity exercise.

Another answer to this question could also be: cycling for one hour every day at a moderate pace will become “everyday business” for your body very soon.

Your body will get used to the strain – there is no real evolvement in your performance.

HIIT sessions however will challenge your body again and again and constantly push the limit.

female athlete on ondoor bike
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Metabolic Threshold

Talking about pushing the limit…

When you are already exercising on your aerobic metabolism and you start to increase the intensity of your exercise, your anaerobic energy system will eventually kick in by releasing power resources and supporting the aerobic system.

The moment when this happens is called the Metabolic Threshold.

You can even feel when your Metabolic Threshold has been reached because you will feel fatigued in your muscles.

The reason for that is the waste products (lactate) which are byproducts of the anaerobic provisioning of power.

By adding High Intensity Interval Training to your fitness routine you will also improve your cardio fitness and aerobic fitness levels.

In practice High Intensity Interval Training will show like this:

You – the guy who went through numerous HIIT workout sessions, pushing the limits of your cardiovascular system, conditioning your body with intense exercise – go out on a cycling session with your buddy.

Your buddy thinks he will be the boss today because he did some sprint interval training and traditional endurance training the last few weeks.

You cycle along gradually increasing your speed to see how far your opponent can go, because – let´s name it: it´s a race!

Today’s goal lies on top of a hill. This means there will be the inevitable uphill sprint.

You will win!

Simply because your High Intensity Interval Training sessions have improved your anaerobic capacity to a fitness level that your buddy just won´t be able to keep up with.

Riding into the sunset

There´s even more good news!

Other health benefits of HIIT could be combined like this :

  1. HIIT workouts save a lot of time as you put maximum effort into a short period of time
  2. Your cardiovascular fitness will benefit greatly from high intensity workouts. Researchers found that HIIT training increases the ability of aerobic and anaerobic energy production. Also the ability to degrade lactate – the byproduct of anaerobic energy provision – is significantly improved.
  3. During an HIIT workout you will burn calories like crazy and since your HIIT routine will kickstart your metabolism you will burn even more calories although the workout itself is long over.
  4. The high intensity of HIIT intervals and the resulting “afterburn effect” of high intensity interval training itself will help you to reduce body fat. Losing weight will come as a bonus.
  5. The repeated anaerobic provisioning of energy during your HIIT workout will finally lead to an increase of muscle mass.
  6. HIIT training can be adjusted to all fitness levels.

HIIT workout for cycling

There was not much cycling-specific intelligence so far you might say. Well, that is simply because HIIT is such a versatile tool that can be applied to nearly any kind of (physical) sport.

If you want to try out High Intensity Intervals you can either do an indoor HIIT cycling session on a stationary bike, or you incorporate your HIIT workout session in your next outdoor ride.

However, it will be much easier indoors on a stationary bike as you might not always be able to stick to the necessary time intervals on a road or in traffic.

We have three HIIT cycling workouts put together for you – so give it a try!

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Workout 1 – Simple Starter (22 Minutes)

Minute 1-5

Warm up for five minutes by pedaling at a slower pace with 70-80 rpm and an intensity that will raise your heart rate but won´t let you feel fatigued already after a couple of minutes.

Minute 5-17 (12 Minutes)

Cycle with maximal effort for 20 seconds – rpm should be around 110 or even more.

Now take 1:20 minutes as recovery time

Repeat this pattern eight times!

Remember: the 20 seconds must be an all-out effort!

Minute 17-22 (5 Minutes)

Cool-down! Pedal with low intensity and let your heart rate come down slowly.

Workout 2 – The Pyramid (28 Minutes)

Minute 1-5

Warm up for five minutes by pedaling at a slower pace with 70-80 rpm and an intensity that will raise your heart rate but won´t let you feel fatigued already after a couple of minutes.

Minute 6-23 (18 Minutes)

3 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 20 seconds

40 seconds as recovery time

3 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 40 seconds

1:20 minutes as recovery time

3 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 20 seconds

40 seconds as recovery time

Minute 23-28 (5 Minutes)

Cool-down! Pedal with low intensity and let your heart rate come down slowly.

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Workout 3 – Deception (18 Minutes and you think it´s getting easier…)

Minute 1-5

Warm up for five minutes by pedaling at a slower pace with 70-80 rpm and an intensity that will raise your heart rate but won´t let you feel fatigued already after a couple of minutes.

Minute 6-13 (8 Minutes)

2 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 30 seconds

60 seconds as recovery

3 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 20 seconds

40 seconds as recovery

4 Rounds of:

Cycle with maximal effort for 10 seconds

20 seconds as recovery

Minute 13-18 (5 Minutes)

Cool-down! Pedal with low intensity and let your heart rate come down slowly.

You can also watch how pro-cyclists perform their HIIT cycling workout here.

If you liked this article please feel free to share, like and leave a comment.

Maybe you are interested in pre workout supplemets – then check out our article here.

Or if you want to learn more about how much time you should wait after eating and before workout then check out our article here.

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