Five HIIT bike workouts to try out at home

Woman doing HIIT bike workout
(Image credit: Getty)

HIIT bike workouts are a great way to ramp up your cardio sessions, while also boosting heart health and aerobic fitness. 

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, involves working at a vigorous level then backing off for a short recovery period. You repeat this again and again, with sessions typically lasting between 10 and 30 minutes. You can pump these sessions out doing bodyweight work – but you can also jump on one of the best exercise bikes for a HIIT session.

“HIIT bike workouts offer a lot of bang for your buck if you’re time poor as they burn a lot of calories very quickly,” says ex-professional cyclist Richard Lang, founder of cycling training app Spoked.

“HIIT is mentally challenging and a great stress buster,” he says. “The intensity forces you to focus and stay in the moment, and by boosting cardiovascular health it can also decrease blood pressure.”

The best time to workout varies. Regardless, there are plenty of exercise bike benefits when using these machines at any pace, but crank up the intensity and perks include weight loss, increased muscle mass, higher metabolism, aerobic capacity and the “afterburn effect”.  Indeed, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal found that participants burned almost 200 extra calories in the 14 hours after their HIIT workout. 

Ready to try it? Richard Lang has created five HIIT bike workouts exclusively for LiveScience. Make sure you check out our handy guides to the different kinds of exercise bikes, rowing vs cycling and VO2 max before you begin.

But first, a quick warning – HIIT bike workouts can place a lot of stress on the body, so limit rides to three a week. It also puts a lot of strain on the heart, so avoid it if you have any doubts, or speak to a medical professional first.

Target effort

Man on exercise bike

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To help judge your desired target effort, use this 1-10 scale based on your ability to hold a conversation:  

  • 1 to 2 - can easily hold a conversation
  • 3 to 4 - can hold a conversation 
  • 5 to 6 - can speak a few sentences at a time 
  • 7 to 8 - can speak a couple of words at a time 
  • 9 - can only speak one word at a time
  • 10 - all out, can’t speak 

Workout 1: Sprints

Woman with prosthetic arm using exercise bike at gym

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A sprint-focused session that will start to bite over time, with the intense anaerobic activity requiring you to generate energy without oxygen and produce lactic acid as a waste product. It’s important that you pace each sprint, as it’s the accumulation that will make it hurt. Use the time during the warm up to mentally prepare yourself for the session and if you need more time, take it. You want to be ready when the first 15-second sprint starts.  

Repeat the above workout eight times, for a total of four minutes, then rest for one minute (gently cycle while drinking some water). That should take a total of five minutes, including resting time. Finished resting? Hop back on your bike and repeat the whole thing two more times, which should give you a total workout time of 15 minutes, including a rest at the end of each set.

Workout 2: One minute attacks

Woman using Peloton bike at home

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A minute of effort within a HIIT workout feels like five normal minutes, so you need to be prepared for this workout. The first few one minute efforts might feel ok, but it will catch up with you. Remember not to sprint too early within these efforts.  

Repeat the above workout seven times, for a grand total of 14 minutes.

Workout 3: Progressive punches

Man using exercise bike at home

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This can be a tricky workout to get right as the step down from the first 30 seconds to the second round is challenging. It’s important to make a note of the cadence you ride, as this cadence will become your benchmark to help you get your pacing right.  

Repeat the above workout four times, for a grand total of 16 minutes,

Workout 4: Riding down the steps

Exercise bike on sale: Woman working out on an exercise bike in her living room

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As you move through the workout the efforts become shorter, but so does the recovery in between. You’re looking for consistency within your efforts, so you don’t want to let go of the resistance or cadence in the last 30 seconds.  

Workout 5: Various sprints

Does bike riding work your abs? Man riding exercise bike in the gym

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These sprints are going to test you. Start off with long sprints and throughout the workout they’ll become shorter. It’s key to ensure your time in-between the sprints provides real recovery. In the last five seconds of your recovery before the next sprint, make sure you’re ready to go again.  

 Repeat x 5 (5 mins). This is one set. Complete 10 x 30 sec efforts before you move onto the below

Repeat the above five times (for a total of five minutes)

Repeat the above workout five times, for a total of five minutes.

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy has been a writer and editor for 25 years, and has worked for some of the UK's bestselling newspapers and women’s magazines, including Marie Claire, The Sunday Times and Women's Health. Maddy is also a fully qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer, specializing in helping busy women over 40 navigate menopause.