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The Ultimate 30-Minute Cycling Workout

Nick Onken

Before diving into your plan, tune up your bike routine with these simple tweaks to ride happy and turn your usual cruise into a serious workout.

Be shifty. Many bikers think of gears as set 'em and forget 'em, but you should shift them frequently, says competitive cyclist Christine D'Ercole, a head coach for Peloton Cycle in New York City. "Anytime it feels as if you're pedaling with no resistance, pick a harder gear to help you go further with each stroke. If an incline slows you down, change to an easier gear to spare your legs."

Make a clean brake. Picking up too much speed downhill? Press both brake levers gently and evenly, D'Ercole advises. Because each brake slows down one wheel, tapping just one could make you less stable.

Just relax. If you feel yourself hunching over the handlebars, shake out your arms—one at a time if you need to maintain balance—roll your neck, and wiggle your fingers to loosen up, D'Ercole says. At a stop, do a stretch by making your shoulder blades kiss and tilting your head back to release stress on your neck.

Now, try this plan.

Time (min) Activity
0 to 5 Warm up: Pedal quickly at around 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) in an easy gear.
5 to 7 Gradually pick up your pedaling pace, aka cadence (95 to 100 rpm).
7 to 9 Shift into a harder gear—that is, one that provides more resistance— and pedal at a quick, steady pace (90 rpm) for 90 seconds. Increase your cadence (95 to 100 rpm) for 30 seconds.
9 to 17 Repeat minutes 7:00 to 9:00 four times, gradually increasing resistance and then speed.
17 to 18 Shift into an easier gear and pedal fast (100 to 105 rpm).
18 to 21 Simulate a hill (or pedal up one): Shift into a harder gear that makes each stroke feel challenging, and pedal more slowly (85 rpm).
21 to 21 Maintaining the harder gear, stand as you pedal if possible, trying to keep your cadence steady.
21 to 23 Sit, shift into an easier gear and pedal fast (95 to 100 rpm).
23 to 28 Repeat minutes 18:00 to 23:00, climbing the virtual hill and then shifting into an easier gear and pedaling fast on the downhill.
28 to 30 Cool down: Stay in an easy gear and pedal fast (95 to 100 rpm).

 

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