In recent years, HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, has taken the fitness industry by storm. It's favored for its efficiency - with HIIT, you can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
While HIIT workouts have become synonymous with high-impact movements, they don’t need to be limited to weight-bearing exercise, the benefits can be felt on a bike, too.
Discover the scientifically proven health benefits of HIIT bike workouts and how you can incorporate HIIT into your next indoor bike session.
What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
HIIT workouts alternate short high intensity intervals with periods of recovery.
Generally speaking, HIIT workout intervals are between five seconds and one minute long, with a short rest period in between.
Because it is more intense than regular steady-state exercise, HIIT makes your heart, lungs, and muscles work harder, helping you achieve better results in less time.
Can you do HIIT on a stationary exercise bike?
Yes, you can do HIIT on a stationary bike, as stationary biking is a cardio workout that will elevate your heart rate and help you burn calories when performed at high intensity.
Indoor cycling is a great option for HIIT training, as you can easily adjust the variables that create intensity and allow for recovery. You can use your rate of perceived exertion to guide your speed and, if you're adding it, resistance.
CAROL bike uses AI to calculate resistance for you, meaning that instant resistance is applied automatically and with no lag, ensuring that you are pushed to your limits for maximum results.
Additionally, conducting HIIT training on a stationary exercise bike allows you to reap the rewards of regular HIIT workouts without the impact on your body's joints. This makes HIIT cycling workouts suitable for all fitness levels and ages.
What are the health benefits of indoor HIIT bike workouts?
In addition to the fact that HIIT bike workouts are more time efficient and gentler on joints than other forms of exercise, HIIT bike workouts have myriad health benefits.
HIIT burns calories
One of the biggest benefits of a HIIT bike workout is that you can burn more calories than with steady-state cardio, such as normal cycling or even strength training. This makes it an ideal workout for weight loss.
Studies have shown that this intense workout can help you burn the same number of calories as normal cardio and weighted exercises in a shorter amount of time. A 30-minute HIIT workout involving cycles of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 40 seconds of rest burns up to 30% more calories than 30 minutes of running or cycling at a steady pace.
HIIT increases metabolic rate
Combined with the fact that HIIT makes the body’s metabolism burn fat rather than carbs for energy, it’s been proven that HIIT can help you burn additional calories even after you’ve finished your workout. This is due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, also known as afterburn. This means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after a normal steady-state workout such as jogging.
A 2011 review also found that HIIT leads to significantly greater reductions in tummy fat than other forms of aerobic exercise.
Furthermore, HIIT has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity in older individuals. In a 2018 clinical trial, subjects performed HIIT workouts on stationary bikes three times per week for six weeks. The results revealed improved metabolic health in all participants and reduced age-related risk factors for cardiometabolic disease.
HIIT stabilizes heart rate and blood pressure
Studies have shown that fitness regimes including HIIT result in improvements in both blood pressure and heart rate.
In a 2014 study, participants - all over 60 - were asked to pedal at maximum intensity for six seconds, then rest for one minute, repeating this cycle for ten sprint-rest intervals. The researchers found that just two sessions like this per week lowered blood pressure by 9%.
HIIT increases endurance
Alternating short bursts of near-maximum effort with rest periods helps increase your endurance and power on the bike.
Research has shown that completing four 20-minute HIIT workouts per week improved participants’ muscle oxygen consumption, making their muscles as durable and strong as those of individuals who had been cycling continuously for 40 minutes per day.
In summary, these short, very intense workouts boost your fitness, improve insulin sensitivity, and burn fat both on and off the bike
How can I include HIIT in my training plan?
Ready to give a HIIT bike workout a shot? Here are a few things to remember:
Build up to your best
If you're just starting out, aim for one or two sessions per week. Then when you're ready, increase this to two to four rides, ensuring that you're still challenging yourself and hitting your maximum heart rate.
Give yourself time to recover
To gain the benefits of HIIT cycling, it's crucial that you perform the intervals at a very high intensity. This makes it vital that you allow yourself time to recover between each ride, interspersing ride days with rest days and avoiding HIIT workouts on consecutive days of the week.
For example, you could get in the saddle of your stationary bike for a HIIT bike workout on Tuesday and Thursday, rest on Wednesday and Friday, and opt for an outdoor endurance ride on the weekend.
Always warm up
Though we’ve all felt the temptation to jump right into the main part of our workout, taking the time to warm up before a HIIT bike workout will ensure that you perform at your best and achieve maximum results.
What does a sample HIIT bike workout look like?
Begin with this simple 25-minute HIIT cycling workout:
- Warm up with easy pedaling at low resistance on your exercise/spin bike, gradually increasing your heart rate for five minutes.
- For your first high intensity interval, increase both resistance and speed and pedal at your maximum effort level for one minute at high resistance. It should feel like you're riding your bike up that steep hill you have a love/hate relationship with!
- Recover by pedaling at your warm-up pace for two minutes.
- Repeat for a total of 15 minutes, continuing to alternate your pace between high intensity and recovery.
- Bring your heart rate back down with five minutes of easy pedaling.
How does REHIT compare with HIIT?
The average HIIT workout may only be 20 minutes long, but five 20-minute sessions every week can feel impossible with a busy schedule - or for those who simply don’t like cardio.
Thankfully there’s another option: Reduced Exertion High-intensity Interval Training (REHIT).
REHIT was developed by scientists looking for the shortest, most efficient way to improve cardio fitness. It shortens the traditional HIIT workout by using fewer and shorter sprints, though those sprints are performed at supra-maximal intensity.
What is the most effective and efficient HIIT workout?
Research has proven that the signature CAROL workout is the most effective, efficient workout available. It follows this structure:
- Warm up with easy pedaling at low resistance for between 20 seconds and two minutes.
- Sprint for 20 seconds, pedaling as hard as you can.
- Recover by pedaling at your warm-up pace for one to three minutes.
- Complete a second 20-second sprint, the same as the first.
- Bring your heart rate back down with three minutes of easy pedaling.
How to really do REHIT
CAROL is the only exercise equipment that’s scientifically proven to give you the benefits of a 45-minute run in as little as five minutes. That’s because unlike other exercise bikes, CAROL’s AI-powered REHIT workouts automatically apply the optimal resistance, at the right speed, at the right time – all based on your personal fitness level. Making every minute in the saddle count.
“CAROL is the only bike that accurately replicates REHIT outside of the labs. This scientific exercise cannot be done on a regular bike because it requires the supra-maximal resistance tailored to each person’s physiology.” Dr. Niels Vollaard, PhD Exercise Physiology Researcher, University of Stirling.
CAROL CEO & Co-Founder
Ulrich co-founded CAROL and partnered with the world’s leading exercise researchers to take REHIT out of the lab. 40 prototypes later, the world’s only REHIT exercise bike was launched.