My Top 5 Favorite HIIT Spin Workouts

The bike trainer is a love/hate relationship for most triathletes, but is absolutely vital to the busy professional or parent whose goal is to improve their fitness.  Research studies are finding that shorter High Intensity Internal Training (HIIT) can often replace longer steady rides.   Two of the trainer sessions below leverage the common interval workout known as Tabata.  Tabata workouts are based on research from Japanese Scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, which compared short high intensity workouts against longer moderate workouts.  The research found the subjects using the high intensity workouts increased their aerobic system more than subjects using the longer moderate workouts, and they saw improvements in their anaerobic system.   The high intensity workouts where 20 seconds of Maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  The 20 seconds on the trainer are done using the big chain ring in the front and a gear in the rear that allows to spin at great effort, but you can still produce a reasonable cadence (~80 rpm).  You should be exhausted by the time you finish 4-5 of the 8 rounds, but you still need to finish all 8 rounds.  During the rest period you should stay in the same gear and move slowly or gear down 1-2 rings to make it easier.

I personally used a 20-30 minute session to replace my 1 hour bike rides when training for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  Most professionals use the trainer more than they ride outside, because it is a steadier workout and you can really focus on your heartrate (HR) zones or power/watts.  Varying your HR and allowing for the correct amount of rest are key to high intensity workouts.   Below are 5 of my go to trainer rides, which I used to train for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  I try to keep my spin workouts simple.

The Tabata Ride (20 Minutes)

 

Warm Up:    2 min Easy Free Spin (Zone 1-2)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

1 min of Increased Resistance (Zone 3-4)

The Ride:     2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

The Tabata* Series

8 rounds of 20 sec MAX effort 10 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

Easy Spin (Rest) 4 Min

Optional:      1 min High Intensity (Zone 3-4)

1 min Easy Spin (Rest)

1 min High Intensity (Zone 3-4)

2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

Tabata Ride ADVANCED (~30 Minutes)

 

Warm Up:    2 min Easy Free Spin (Zone 1-2)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

1 min of increased resistance (Zone 3-4)

2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

The Ride:     The Tabata Series* – Round 1

(8 rounds of 20 sec MAX effort 10 sec Easy Spin (Rest))

Easy Spin (Rest) 4-8 Min until HR stabilizes

The Tabata Series* – Round 2

(8 rounds of 20 sec MAX effort 10 sec Easy Spin (Rest))

Easy Spin (Rest) 4 min

Optional:      30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

3 min Easy Spin (Rest)

The Progression (~30 Minutes)

 

Warm Up:    2 min Easy Free Spin (Zone 2)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

The Ride:     1 min of increased resistance (Zone 4-5)

1 min Easy Spin (Rest)

1 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

1 min Easy Spin (Rest)

2 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

2 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

4 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

4 min Easy Spin (Rest)

4 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

4 min Easy Spin (Rest)

0-5 min of Spin to cool down

The Thresher (~25 Minutes)

 

Warm Up:    2 min Easy Free Spin (Zone 2)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

The Ride:     1 min of Increased Resistance (Zone 3)

1 min Easy Spin (Rest)

1 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

1 min Easy Spin (Rest)

2 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4-5)

2 min Easy Spin (Rest)

10 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4)

3-5 min of Easy Spin to cool down

3×5 Workout (~30 minutes)

 

Warm Up:    2 min Easy Free Spin (Zone 2)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

30 sec High Cadence (115+ rpm)

30 sec Easy Spin (Rest)

The Ride:     5 min of Increased Resistance (Zone 4)

3 min Easy Spin (Rest)

5 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4)

3 min Easy Spin (Rest)

5 min Increase Resistance (Zone 4)

3 min Easy Spin (Rest)

3-5 min of Easy Spin to cool down

In order to make the session successful, you need to make sure to go hard when the plan calls for it and actually go easy during the rest interval.  If you don’t need to rest between intervals, you probably aren’t going hard enough.

What if you don’t have a HR monitor or cadence meter?

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you could use perceived level of resistance.  Therefore, Zone 4 would be 90% of Max effort, Zone 3 would be 80-85% of Max effort, Zone 2 is 70%, and easy spin is just keep your legs moving

Without a cadence monitor/meter, you can judge the cadence by feel or just try counting.  If you were to go by feel, a 115 rpm will feel like your feet about to fly off the pedal (for the average person, some people always ride at 115 rpm).  Another way is to just count.  You can do this by counting the number of times one knee goes up in 10 seconds then multiple by 6, or the number of times in 6 seconds and multiply by 10.

How to incorporate these into your workout plan?

I suggest 1-2 a week.  A maximum of 3 could be done, but depending on your goal, your 3rd ride should be outside if possible, or a longer steady ride. Make sure you have a minimum of 48 hours of rest between the workouts.

Can I do this for an hour or more?

There will always be outliers, but in general, most endurance athletes try to overdo it.  For most age group athletes, if you aren’t tried by the end, you probably weren’t going hard enough.  If you feel you must go longer, you could do more intervals, but you need to either increase the rest or decrease the intensity.  The next day you SHOULD be able to walk.  Stressing your body and legs to the point of hindering future activities is NOT the plan.  Maximizing your time to achieve optimal fitness is the plan.

About The Author

Coach

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *