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How to do HIIT - Indoor Cycle

Nov 14, 2021

 What is HIIT?


HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Quite simply, it is cardiovascular training that combines an intense sprint or all out effort with slow steady state cardio.  In my opinion, and that of science - one of the best ways to perform HIIT is on an indoor spin cycle.  However, there seems to be a lot of conflicting and outright bad advice when it comes to HIIT.  This article is here to clarify a few things and make HIIT simple.


Why use a cycle?


Cycling uses some of the largest muscles of our body - the same ones involved in heavy compound lifting.  This not only increases our cardiovascular capacity, but can strengthen our legs and core.  You will find that after you cycle regularly, your legs will be less sore in general after squat day.   Cycling is very easy on the joints compared to sprinting and as such is an ideal fit for addition in a strength program.

HIIT is proven to have lasting effects on metabolic rate up to 48 hours post exercise.  Other benefits include improved fat oxidation and increases in cognitive functions.  Basically, HIIT provides a more efficient way to work cardio into your routine so you aren't on a stair-stepper or treadmill for an hour a day.  Similar to heavy compound lifts, HIIT provides the best ROI for our time and energy expenditure.


How Much Should I do?


Two or Three  20-30 minute HIIT sessions are sufficient per week.  You can do up to four if you are in a cutting phase - along with your strength program.  I like to do around 3 in general.  If I am really focused on bulking up - I'll only do 1-2 sessions per week or cut it out altogether.  From my experience, my body and many of my clients can bulk up just fine with a couple of HIIT sessions added per week on top of a strength program.

Cardiovascular strength is important and leads to a healthier life.  It is especially good for relieving stress, anxiety etc.  I find I generally sleep a bit better on cardio days, and so do my clients.


Here are my guidelines:


Maintain/Cut - 3, 20 minute HIIT sessions per week.  I do these on easier lifting days when I work my upper body generally.  They are best done separate or at the end of a workout, after you have lifted heavy things.  The reason is that our optimal energy levels are best used to build additional muscle.  This is because each pound of additional muscle burns around 25 calories per day.

Bulk - 2, 20 minute HIIT sessions per week.  If one's metabolism is quite fast and he has had trouble gaining weight in the past he can cut cardio altogether, but it isn't recommended unless one literally can't gain weight doing cardio.

These are just guidelines, if you can do 3 a week - do it.  HIIT is good for you.  This stuff is short and intense, not long and dragging so most folks do well with 3, 20 minute sessions per week.


How to do it:


This is an indoor cycle of the Life Fitness brand that they use at LA fitness.  Notice the "20 minute limit" sign they have.  I have never seen it so busy that one can't jump on a bike, but if it is that is cool - because we only need 20 minutes to do HIIT.


I am 5'11.  I adjust the seat to setting 10.  That is comfortable for me.


Step 1: 

Start pedaling.  Press quick start.  Note the bike start on resistance level 1.  Pedal for a minute at a jog pace.  Ignore the Heart Rate and Calories.  This is no 'smart' machine and Calorie estimates on cardio machines are way off in general.



 Step 2:

Hit the up arrow until the resistance reads 10.  Sprint for a minute, and then turn the resistance back to 1 and jog for a minute.

 Step 3:

Repeat until 20 minutes has elapsed.  High resistance on 10 and SPRINT then Low resistance of 1 and jog.

Ensure to use MAXIMUM effort in your sprints.  You will find your heart rate north of 85%, if you are pushing it.  You take your heartrate by looking at the clock on the bike and using it to count out 10 seconds while you take your two fingers and place them on your carotid artery in your neck.  You know, the vein that you can feel pump when you do intense exercise.  You count the beats.  For example, I'll look at the clock and count. I'm 34 years old so I look at the chart and feel 27 beats per minute.  Cool it is 85% or north of there if there are more beats.

You don't have to think about this really, just go as hard as you can in the sprints and your heart will beat fast and do it's thing.  85% or more, you'll be sweating, quads burning and you won't be able to maintain conversation because you'll be sucking wind.  Simple.  Go hard and reap the benefits.

Use this chart if you'd like to see where you are at:




This is my favorite way to do HIIT.  Like and share the article if this helped you.

For me, 3x, 20 minute cycle HIIT sessions are part of staying sub 10% and strong, year round.  You really don't get a better investment in the cardio department for 20 minutes of your time - unless you have an Assault Bike.  But that's another article :).

Any questions?  Give a ring or shoot an email.  I'm here to help.


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