High-Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT, has taken the fitness world by storm in recent years. Recognized as an intense workout that can help burn a lot of calories in a short period of time, HIIT has become a favorite form of training for gym-goers. But interval training shouldn’t be limited to weight training. Cyclists can benefit greatly from this exercise regimen and should incorporate interval training into their workout routine without a doubt.
What is interval training?
Interval training involves short bursts of high-intensity activity interspersed with periods of shorter, lower-intensity activities[i], which creates an interplay between the aerobic and anaerobic systems in your body. This is essential for increasing endurance and vivacity when training for an activity such as cycling, where both endurance and pedal power is critical for fast movement.
Cycling interval training is also one of the simplest and least expensive forms of exercise you can do. No gym or special equipment is necessary. Just a bike and some appropriate clothes are all you need. Suppose you already do strength training on your bike. In that case, you can integrate interval training into a workout by contracting and expanding each muscle group a set number of times during each interval.
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What are the benefits of cycling interval training?
Most pro athletes use cycling interval training for endurance and to improve overall fitness. The benefits of this type of exercise are myriad: It improves your balance and coordination, and it helps enhance your speed. As more of a goal-specific exercise routine, regular interval training can give you fast and noticeable improvements to your performance.
Another key beneficial factor of this type of workout is its time efficiency. Most busy folks out there that want to engage in cycling simply cannot find 20 to 30 hours each week they can dedicate to riding. This makes interval training a more viable option for cyclists.
Additionally, it can help increase the maximum volume of oxygen your body can absorb, otherwise known as VO2 max[ii], improve your cardiac response and strengthen your core leading to highly effective performance improvements in the short term.
Overall, interval training is a great strength workout for cyclists as it can help build lean and strong muscles[iii], which helps protect against injuries, enabling you to reach optimal performance levels in cycling.
Interval training workout tips for cyclists
- Interval training generally involves a 30 to 90-second duration of fast and difficult pacing followed by a rest period for double that time. You may increase the intensity level as you further along in your fitness.
- Warm up - First and foremost, ensure you spend sufficient time warming up thoroughly before starting your interval training session. This will make certain that you achieve a true high-intensity interval set without cutting into the training time for warming up. Due to the short duration of the set, it is essential to run its full course.
- Commit your fullest effort - The effectiveness of the exercise is dependent upon you reaching the highest power output by pushing your cardiovascular system. So, if you want to do this, do it right, or it would be a lost cause.
- Do not overdo it- If the intensity training is done right, it would not be possible to do it daily. Two or three times a week of cycling interval training for beginners would be sufficient. Always make certain you give yourself enough time to rest and recuperate.
- Be focused - The repetition of sets requires your fullest efforts to get right. Give it a disciplined approach to achieve your targets.
- Hydrate - Due to its high intensity, you tend to sweat out a lot. Ensure to stay well hydrated to avoid cramping and dehydration.
How to recover from interval training?
As a high-intensity workout, any form of interval training can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue. As such, pay close attention to recovery after HIIT workouts.
Here are some of the best ways to recover from a workout:
- Keep moving - A few minutes of walking between your rest periods would help your body keep the blood circulating to deliver nutrition and oxygen to your sore muscles.
- Massage therapy - What better way to relax after a strenuous workout than to have a full body massage that can target all those cramped up and strained muscles.
- Compression devices - SPRYNG Active Compression can be used for fast muscle recovery as it helps relieve pain in your strained muscles within 15 minutes of use post-workout. By aiding blood circulation and oxygenation, Spryng can help your muscles recover from the micro-tears that take place during your workout.
If you are uncertain about recovery after cycling checkout our article on "Why It Is Important For Cyclists To Recover After A Ride? And How To Improve It?"