May is National Bike Month. To celebrate (and get a killer workout), build endurance and speed with this tempo interval workout — the perfect 60-minute ride for cyclists of all levels.

New Workout: Tempo Intervals for Cyclists

Spinning your wheels with no goal in sight? Turns out we can get way more out of our ride than just the pretty view (or the amazing people-watching from the gym’s stationary bike). Like tempo runs, interval training on the bike can build speed, boost endurance, and burn fat. One more mega payoff: Tempo workouts, which alternate from moderate to high intensity at a “comfortably hard” pace, have been shown to improve the body’s lactate threshold (which can help athletes keep on keepin’ on — and eat hills for breakfast). Ready to give one a spin? Hop in the saddle and try this low-impact tempo ride from the American Council on Exercise.
Interval Workout for the Bike

Spin Cycle — Let’s Go!

Basic Warm-Up
  • Hop on the bike and begin with a 10-minute warm-up at 70-100 rpm at a moderate intensity. RPE=3-4 (Rate of Perceived Exertion, or RPE, is measured on a scale of 1-10, 1 being no exertion, 10 being your absolute limit).
Tempo Interval Workout
  • Perform three two-minute tempo intervals at 80-100 rpm at a hard intensity (RPE=5), where the breathing should be a bit challenging. In between those tougher bursts, recover with five-minute intervals at 70-80 rpm at a moderate intensity (RPE=3-4). Total duration: 21 minutes
  • Next, perform two three-minute tempo intervals at 80-100 rpm at a hard intensity (RPE=5). In between those tempo intervals, recover with six-minute intervals at 70-80 rpm at a moderate intensity (RPE=3-4). Total duration: 18 minutes
Easy Cool Down
  • Bring that heart rate back down with a 10-12 minute cool-down at 70-100 rpm at a moderate intensity (RPE=3-4).

Ready to really build that endurance? Incorporate tempo intervals once per week into your usual cardio and strength training program. For more workouts from ACE, visit

Originally posted October, 2012. Updated May, 2013.

What’s your favorite way to interval train? Tell us in the comments below or tweet the author at @jshakeshaft.

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