High-Intensity Cycling For Cyclists: Does It Work?

High-Intensity Cycling For Cyclists: Does It Work?

In recent years HITT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, has become one of the most popular acronyms in the health and fitness industry. The primary reason HIIT has gained so much popularity is that it provides you with the most bang for your buck when it comes to boosting performance and burning fat.

But what about for us cyclists? Does HIIT work? or is it only for runners and cross-fitters. Well, not only does HITT work for cyclists, it can quite literally take your cycling to an entirely new level.

There are several, or should I say a "plethora," of different fitness methods and routines, but as a professional coach, I can tell you that you will be very hard-pressed to go past HITT, especially if you're crunched for time like most of us. If you're still sitting on the fence as to whether to give HIIT a try, this article should help you get off it and dive in head first.

Crunched for Time? Try HIIT

Woman looking at watch beside bicycle.

The tremendous benefit for us cyclists is that you can jump on your bike and smash out a HIIT session in as little as 12 minutes; that's right, 12 minutes. Now, although you can get in a heart-pumping, fat-burning workout in 12 minutes, I suggest performing your HIIT workouts for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Research suggests that you can burn as many calories in 20 minutes performing a HITT workout as you can on a 40-minute steady-state ride; that's what I meant earlier about getting "bang for your buck."

Are you having trouble tracking your fitness improvements because your favorite iPhone app drains your battery? Nothing is worse than getting halfway through your workout to look down and see your iPhone battery on "low-power" mode. Well, the best way to end that is to ensure you have an iPhone compatible charging case to ensure you and your battery never run dry. 

I must admit I prefer longer rides as opposed to HITT, but if you're talking about getting the most out of your time and boosting your performance, then you can't go past HITT. Most people don't have time for longer rides which is why HITT comes in handy. Whether it's 12 minutes or 20 minutes, HIIT can burn fat, improve your aerobic fitness and increase your strength.

Burn More Fat; Much More 

Did you know that HIIT workouts have been proven over and over again to burn more fat than steady-state cardio? But here's the most significant benefit, the fat burning continues long after your workout has finished.

HIIT workouts target the stubborn "love handle" area, which is a problem for many middle-aged male cyclists. Female cyclists also benefit greatly because HIIT workouts target the inner thighs and buttocks and help keep your muscles looking slender and toned.

Maintaining Weight Loss Without The Plateaus

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Tampa looked into the benefits of LISS or Low-Intensity Steady State training. Researchers found that within the first few weeks, participants lost considerable body weight and fat. However, after these initial weight loss benefits, further reductions in weight loss were not noted. Researchers concluded that as the body's metabolism adjusts to LISS, the effects of fat loss are significantly reduced.

Cyclists need to understand that the human body is incredibly SMART, and if you keep performing the same training programs repeatedly, your body catches on pretty quickly. HIIT, on the other hand, keeps your body guessing, and because you're forced to work at such a high intensity, the chance to "plateau" is pretty much eliminated. 

The benefits of performing HIIT don't just stop with fat loss. According to research, the more HIIT training sessions you perform, the greater your ability to intake and utilize oxygen. Simply put, the better your VO2 max, the better your cycling performance. Improved aerobic capacity also helps to boost your stamina, increase your strength, and even insulin sensitivity.

What Kind Of Bike Is Suitable for HIIT?

Woman on indoor stationary bicycle.

The beauty of HIIT is that you don't need to perform it on a road bike worth thousands and thousands of dollars. Spin bikes, recumbent bikes, and stationary bikes are excellent alternatives to expensive road bikes. Since the onset of the pandemic, many people these days have turned to home gyms, spin bikes, and stationary bikes.

Spin Bikes

Spin bikes are perfect for HIIT workouts because they allow users to easily change resistance at the turn of a knob. Want a more challenging workout? Simply ramp up the resistance and start mashing the pedals for an incredible fat-burning session.

Spin bikes also have LCD screens that display critical ride data, making it easier for you to track HIIT sessions. Some of the vital data displayed are speed, calories, time, distance, power, and cadence. 

Stationary Bikes

Nearly every person on the planet has used a stationary bike at some point or another. Although old and outdated, the stationary bike offers one of the best ways to perform a HIIT session because you can change the resistance levels quickly and easily. Stationary bikes are "low impact" machines meaning you can push relatively hard without fear of an injury. Muscles worked while using the stationary bike are glutes, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, calves, and even your abs.

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