By Cindy Abrami, NASM-CES, Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor

I’ve spent the last two years focusing on duathlon (run-bike-run).  As a runner who has transitioned into a multisport athlete, I found that cycling came more naturally to me than swimming and I decided I’d see if duathlon could take me places that triathlon wasn’t able to.

To my delight duathlon took me to some cool places.  I’ve competed in two ITU Sprint Duathlon World Championships (2018 and 2019), one in Denmark and one in Spain.  And an even greater delight, and legitimately mind-blowing to me is that I won both events.

One of the most profound serendipities of the past two years of duathlon focus, is how much fun I’ve had developing myself as a cyclist.  The biggest message I’ve shared along the way, and the focus of this article, is that three-quarters of my cycling workouts were done indoors on a stationary bike.  As it turns out, I’m a Schwinn® Certified Indoor Cycling instructor and teach on average between 3-5 one-hour cycling sessions per week.  Add to that my running miles and strength and conditioning work and my once-per-week outdoor cycling workout, I was empowered to discover how utterly amazing indoor cycling can be, and how well it translates to real cycling and competition readiness.

The Magical High Intensity Interval

Over the past few years, my cycling has improved to the point of World Champion Status and I can primarily attribute it to the “get the best bang for your hour” indoor cycling sessions.  As with any type of individually choreographed workout, the result from the workout is highly dependent on the instructor and with indoor cycling, you can have any number of experiences.  If you’re an athlete and you’re interested in using indoor cycling as a modality for training, make sure you’re paired with an instructor who understands the physiology of training and interval work to ensure you’re getting true fitness adaptations that will make the difference on race day.

With the right instructor, the beauty of indoor cycling is that you can pretty much control everything.  It’s very similar to doing interval work on the track as a runner.  There are different types of intervals that target different energy systems or desired adaptations, and it can be tough to get specific enough out on the road.  Many indoor bikes found in studios now come with a pretty good console that shows power output, distance “traveled”, heart rate and other data points.  And of course another great option is to do your own interval training on your road bike and bike trainer.  The main objective, no matter what equipment you use, or where you go to do it, is to get a quality cycle workout that pushes fitness adaptation in a relatively short amount of time using high intensity interval training.  And these workouts are safer, can be done any time of the day, are very convenient and take much less time than an outdoor ride.

Three High Powered Indoor Cycling Workouts to Try

If you’ve got access to indoor cycles at your gym, have one at home or have a bike and bike trainer, here are 3 awesome workouts for you to use in your training.  These will push you to your limits but don’t worry, you get to come back down to recovery.  They are simple to navigate and use the perceived effort scale so they can be used readily by anyone with or without any special equipment.  The Work:Recovery ratio is crucial to working specific energy systems and to ensure a workout is properly achievable.  The use of gears allows you to simulate climbs, false flats and big power on a flat road.  For your convenience, I’ve included the motivational music that drives these workouts, but really any music will work.  Set up your playlist, print the workout, turn on a fan and have a great ride!!!

Ride #1

1 Hour Ride – Features VO2 Max, Anaerobic and Sprint Intervals

Hard (VO2 Max) = Perceived effort of 8/10

Max (Anaerobic) = Perceived effort of 9/10

Sprint = Perceived effort of 10/10

Ride #2

1 Hour Ride – Features three stages, each with a 5:00, 4:00 and 3:00 segment which includes steady flats, climbing and intervals.

Mod = 6/10

Mod+ (moderately hard) = 7/10

Hard (VO2 Max) = Perceived effort of 8/10

Max (Anaerobic) = Perceived effort of 9/10

Sprint = Perceived effort of 10/10

Ride #3

1 Hour Ride – features three stages with 2 moderately long climbs and 4 different types of intervals

Mod = 6/10

Mod+ (moderately hard) = 7/10

Hard (VO2 Max) = Perceived effort of 8/10

Max (Anaerobic) = Perceived effort of 9/10

Sprint = Perceived effort of 10/10

I hope you give these a try and enjoy a fun new type of cycling workout!

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About the Author: Cindy Abrami, BS Nutrition, NASM-CPT/CES, AFAA, Pn1 Nutrition Coach, UESCA Certified Running and Multisport Coach, Schwinn Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor

Cindy is a fitness and nutrition Professional, and elite level masters athlete with a passion to help her community find fullness of health and abundance of life through fitness and proper nutrition.  She is the owner of The Wellness Movement Santa Barbara.  Cindy is a competitive runner, duathlete and triathlete and holds national champion status as a masters runner and is the 2018 and 2019 ITU Sprint Duathlon World Champion (50-54).  She is currently working to become a Human Movement Specialist with a focus on injury prevention and is expanding The Wellness Movement USA into other communities.