The Calorie-Blasting Cycling Workout
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Fitness

The Calorie-Blasting Cycling Workout

Try cycling! Take your wheels on the open road with these boredom-proof, ultra-effective workouts.

Get Your Heart Pumping

We love cycling because...

  • It's boredom-proof! Cycling gets you out of the steamy Spinning room and lets you enjoy some scenery, sun, and speed.
  • It incinerates calories -- more than 800 an hour -- while sculpting a strong butt and legs, all with zero impact, so it's friendly on your joints.
  • It's adaptable! You can ride solo, with a buddy, or with the whole family, plus work out for an hour or the entire day.

Don't just coast -- make your next ride a fitness experience with these strength- and stamina-building workouts designed by Lance Leener, a cycling and triathlon coach at TriLife in New York City. Try them first indoors to get a feel for the routine, then take them outside. Use your gears to control intensity, based on your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how difficult the exercise feels on a scale of 1 to 10.

1-Hour Hill Workout

Time: 1 hour
Calories burned: 635

  • Find a hill that takes about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to climb. Warm up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5).
  • Hill climb 1: Stay seated, use moderate resistance (RPE 6). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 2: Stay seated, increase resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 3: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand, using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 4: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand using hard resistance (RPE 8). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).*
  • Hill climb 5: Stand the entire way using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 6: Stand the entire way using hard resistance (RPE 9). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Ride at a moderate effort for about a half hour (RPE 5), then cool down for 5 minutes at easy effort (RPE 3).

* Beginner option: Do four repeats: one seated, one half-seated, one standing (moderate resistance), one standing (hard resistance).

Tip: When climbing a hill, push all the way back on the seat to gain extra leverage.

35-Minute Speed Workout

Time: 35 minutes
Calories burned: 370

  • Warm up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5).
  • Pedal hard for 10 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 20 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 30 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 10 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 15 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 20 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).
  • Ride 5 minutes at RPE 5, then cool down for 5 minutes at RPE 3.

3 Must-Do Strength Moves

These three total-body strength moves from Paul Frediani, a certified USA cycling coach based in New York City, are the perfect pre-cycling prep to help you get more pedal power. Do two sets of each exercise three times a week for stronger cycling in one month.

Single-Leg Lunge with Dumbbell

Strengthens: Legs and Butt

Stand holding dumbbells with arms extended at sides, elbows slightly bent. Take a big step forward with left foot, bending both knees 90 degrees. Press up to stand. Repeat 10 times; switch sides.

Reverse Crunch

Strengthens: Core

Lie faceup on floor with knees bent 90 degrees, feet flat, and arms at sides, palms up. Pressing lower back into the floor, lift hips and bring knees toward chest; lower down to gently tap feet to the floor. Repeat 15 times.

Ball Push-Up

Strengthens: Upper Body

Get into a full push-up position with hands placed on the sides of a large stability ball, legs extended behind you. Slowly lower your chest to lightly touch the ball, then push up to full extension. Repeat 5 to 10 times. (To modify, keep knees on floor.)

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2006.

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