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 www.acefitness.org/workouts.

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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