Interval Training Cycling

what is interval training cycling

Bicycling can be a great exercise. Many people prefer it since it doesn’t have as much impact on your joints. 

Even though it can be a powerful way to keep in shape on its own, interval training cycling may produce faster results. 

Interval training is a type of exercise that includes intervals of both high and low-intensity activity. 

This type of training has many benefits, including higher efficiency, increased number of calories burnt, and more. 

If you are interested in learning more about interval training cycling, you have come to the right place. This guide will explain what interval training is and why cycling works well for it. 

We will also cover indoor vs outdoor interval training and explain how to do it. If you are ready to become an interval training expert, keep on reading. 


What Is Interval Training 

What is cycling training

Interval training is a type of exercise that consists of short and long bursts of activity of different intensities.

You alternate between short bursts of high-intensity activity with longer periods of low-intensity activity. The short bursts will typically last thirty seconds, whereas the long, low-intensity exercises can be around one to two minutes long. 

For example, if you are cycling, you would cycle as hard as you can for thirty seconds and then take a one or two-minute break, depending on how you feel. During the break, you would bike at a normal/leisurely pace to catch your breath. 

There are a few benefits of interval training. First of all, you can burn more calories. The harder you exercise, the more calories you burn.

In normal exercise, people won’t typically push themselves as hard as they can go, so they won’t be working out as hard as they could. When you do interval training, you push your body much harder, which will burn more calories. 

Interval training will also improve your cardiovascular system. You will be able to work out both longer and harder. You will quickly find that you can handle more physical activity than you could before starting interval training. 

Another benefit is time efficiency. You can get a good workout in only twenty minutes with interval training compared to a normal forty-five-minute workout. 

Is Cycling Good for Interval Training

Is Cycling Good for Interval Training

Low-Impact Workout

First of all, cycling is a low-impact workout. Low-impact workouts refer to exercises that are not hard on your joints. 

Since your feet do not pound against the ground while bicycling, you will experience less stress on your joints and body. There is also a much lower risk of injury with cycling. 

No Skill Required

This exercise also does not require a lot of skill to do, unlike other sports. Just about anyone can hop on a bike or even an indoor bike. 

Something else to keep in mind is that it is much easier for some people to push themselves on a bike compared to other exercises like running or swimming.

Some people will be limited to a certain speed while running because of their joints, while others may not have the technique to swim. 

When it comes to cycling, you don’t have to have great joint health or technical knowledge to go fast on a bike. Anyone can push themselves. 

Can Help Build Muscle 

Another reason that cycling is ideal for interval training is that it can help build muscle. Interval training cycling will work your glutes, core, and quads.

So if you want to both work on your muscle mass while getting a good cardio workout, cycling will be the way to go. Furthermore, it can also improve your balance and alignment. 

You Can Cycle Both Indoors and Outdoors

Finally, you can cycle both indoors and outdoors, making it a versatile exercise. Even if you only have an outdoor bike, you can invest in a bike stand that will allow you to bike indoors with your outdoor bike. 

Overall, cycling is one of the best exercises for interval training. Not only is it great for seniors who want to get a good, low-impact workout, but it is also ideal for anyone looking to protect their joints and build some extra muscle. 

Indoor vs Outdoor 

One of the best things about interval training cycling is that you can do it both indoors and outdoors. However, is there a difference between indoor and outdoor cycle training? 


interval training at a spin bike class

Many people use indoor exercise bikes for their interval workouts. There are a few main benefits to working out indoors. 

  • You can listen to music or watch a show. There are a lot of people out there that don’t like to work out. However, if you train using an indoor bike, you can listen to music or watch a show. These activities may help you focus less on how tired you feel and help you keep your motivation up. 
  • It is safer. Using an indoor exercise bike is a lot safer than biking outdoors. There are many hazards outside, the main one being traffic. 
  • You can do a group workout. One of the best things about exercise bikes is that you can work out with other people. You can easily sign up for an interval training class and work out with friends.
  • Interval training is easier to do on exercise bikes. Many indoor exercise bikes will have workouts or timers that are programmed into the machine. These features will make it very easy to set up an interval training cycle. 
  • Climate control. Another benefit of indoor cycling is climate control. You won’t have to worry about the weather at all. Even if it is snowing or raining, you can still work out. 

While there are a lot of benefits to indoor interval training cycling, there are also some other factors to keep in mind. 

First of all, you won’t get the scenery as you would with cycling outdoors. This factor may lead to boring workouts that could also lower your motivation.

Another thing to think of is the price of an exercise bike. It is easy to pick up an outdoor bike for under $200, but you will most likely be paying around $1000 for an indoor machine.


outdoor cycling intervals

In this section, we will discuss outdoor interval training cycling. Even though biking indoors has a lot of perks, many people prefer being outdoors for a few reasons. Let’s take a look. 

  • You can enjoy the scenery. A great thing about outdoor interval training cycling is that you can enjoy the scenery while you work out. It will be hard to get bored when you see something new every day. Even if you become tired of your regular trail, you can always switch it up.
  • Improves your mental health. Several studies show that exercising outdoors can help to decrease stress, anger and depression. It can also increase your mood. These benefits will help motivate you during interval training. 
  • You may burn more calories. When you cycle outdoors, you will probably encounter a few hills here and there. You may need to exert yourself more on outdoor terrain, which will help you burn more calories. The outdoor terrain might also make it easier to push yourself during the high-intensity portion of the workout. 

How To Do Interval Training Cycling

How To Do Interval Training Cycling

Now that we know what interval training cycling is and if outside vs inside is better for you, let’s look at how to do interval training. 

Interval training cycling is an easy exercise to get the hang of. At its most basic level, it is intervals of both high and low-intensity workouts. 

For example, say you are out for a leisurely bike ride. Every few minutes, try to bike a bit harder for about thirty seconds. You can then take a break, bike at a normal pace for a few minutes, and repeat the cycle. 

If you are a beginner to interval training cycling, you should start by keeping the high-intensity activity short while doing the low-intensity activity for longer. However, as you start to get more into shape, those times will soon balance out. 

Always make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your workouts for three to five minutes.

Interval Training Cycling for Beginners

You shouldn’t push yourself too hard if you are first starting out. Before your first workout, make sure to look up what your maximum heart rate is.

While you’re working out, try to keep track of it. It is important to not go over your max heart rate. 

The first thing you should do is decide how long your high-intensity workout will last. This can be anywhere from twenty to forty seconds. 

As a beginner, you will take the time of your high-intensity workout and double that for your low-intensity workout. For example, say you bike as hard as you can for thirty seconds.

You will then double that time to get sixty seconds; this is how long you bike at a slow pace. You will then repeat this process as many times as you want, but we recommend starting with five. 

As you become more fit, you can repeat the exercise up to ten times. You can also slowly raise the time of your high-intensity exercise. For instance, you could try biking hard for 60 seconds and resting for 120 seconds. 

Interval Training Cycling for Intermediates 

If you are already in good shape or have been doing some interval training already, you will need a more intense workout. 

Instead of doubling the time of your high-intensity and low-intensity workouts, those times will balance out. 

For example, let’s say you bike as hard as you can for sixty seconds. You will then only take sixty seconds to rest while doing a leisurely pace. 

Example Interval Training Workout

Interval training cycling can be a bit confusing when you first start out. If you want to refer to an example, look below. This workout will be ideal for beginners. 

  • Warm up for five minutes.
  • High-intensity cycling for thirty seconds. 
  • Low-intensity cycling for one minute. 
  • High-intensity cycling for forty seconds. 
  • Low-intensity cycling for one minute.
  • High-intensity cycling for thirty seconds. 
  • Low-intensity cycling for one minute.
  • Repeat as needed

Equipment Needed 

everything you need for interval training workout

One of the best things about interval training cycling is that you do not need much equipment.

Let’s take a look at everything you will need to run a successful interval training workout. 

  • Bike. The first thing you will need is a bike. You should decide whether you are doing outdoor or indoor biking first. After you decide, you will need to figure out how to access the equipment. You can either buy, rent or go to the gym. 
  • Water. If you have never done an interval workout before, you will soon learn that it will be very tiring. Something you cannot go without is water. Make sure to bring along a large water bottle. If you are going biking outdoors, make sure to buy and install a water bottle holder. 
  • Timer. Another important thing you will need is a timer. You can either use a watch or phone to time your workout. It is easiest to set it up beforehand so you won’t have to worry about keeping track of the time. You can get an app that will ring an alarm when it is time to cycle hard and when it’s time to rest. Some of the best apps for this are Interval Timer, Seconds Pro-Interval Timer, Visual Timer and Workout Timer for HIIT. 


Interval training cycling is a great way to get both a good cardiovascular and muscle workout. We hope that this guide has helped you understand more about this exercise. 

Interval training cycling is when you alternate between intervals of high and low-intensity cycling.  

A few benefits of this type of exercise include a higher amount of calories burnt, increased efficiency, and improved muscle and cardiovascular health. 

Cycling is good for interval training for a few reasons. Cycling is a low-impact workout, and it doesn’t require a lot of skill. Furthermore, it can help build muscle and improve balance and alignment. 

It is easy to do interval training even as a beginner. The most basic type of interval cycling is to cycle as hard as you can for about thirty seconds and take a minute’s rest while cycling at a slower pace.

Always remember to warm up and cool down before and after your workouts.


Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

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