High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts in Cycling

HIIT Workouts in Cycling

Learn how High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can improve your cycling fitness!

1. What is a HIIT Workout
HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training, is a very popular trend since 2018 in many training plans, but what is that? How and when to do it?

HIIT most of the time is between 5 minutes and 30 seconds, every interval should be done all-out or at specific intensity depends on what zone you are trying to improve. Workouts start and VO2 Max zone, and go up to anaerobic zone.

High-Intensity Interval Training should be done after the base period when your body is ready for more intensive workouts. Without proper preparation, HIIT can easily lead to overloading and burnout.

Remember that you need more time to recover after high-intensity interval training, it is very important to be perfectly “fresh” before every one of those workouts so you can benefit from it in 100%

2. Benefits of HIIT Workouts in Cycling

Many types of research are telling about the benefits of HIIT workouts, like:

  • Boosting your VO2 Max – how much oxygen your body can use, then more than better. Highest know number in history was 97.5 mL/(kg·min) by Norwegian cyclist Oskar Svendsen,
  • Speed up your fat burn – after your workout, your ability to burn fat will be boosted,
  • Improved mitochondrial function – your cells can change fuel into energy faster, long workouts are creating more mitochondria in your cells.

Even 4 x 30 s intervals can give you the same benefits as long moderate training.

3. Pros and Cons

HIIT training for cyclists sounds like a perfect solution to improve your fitness as well as boost your performance in high-intensity zones. We would ask one very important question if HIIT is so good and beneficial for you, why “Pros” training plans are not based on HIIT workouts?

Yes, high-intensity interval workouts should be a part of every training plan, but it can’t be based on HIIT, Pro cyclists are spending around 90% – 95% of their training below or in their threshold zones. This information can tell you a lot, sorry but there are no shortcuts. If you are looking for long term results you need to spend long hours riding your bike.

Many types of research are talking about the benefits of HIIT workouts, but not many mentions that those results are short term. On the other side, long workouts give you long term benefits.

Interval training can very easily overload your body and lead to burnout. Remember that your training plan should be based on “lower” zones and steadily increase the intensity and do more intervals in higher zones during the season.

There is no way to win any race without specific intervals, but it is just the tip of the iceberg!

4. Samples of HIIT Workouts

Examples of anaerobic workouts, to improve your anaerobic capacity. Below you can find 2 workouts for beginners and more advanced cyclists, both of them are available to download, base on power and heart rate zones.

Beginner workout:

  • Start with easy 10 min warm-up
  • 3 x 1 min – cadence 120
  • 15 min active ride – 70% of FTP
  • 4 x 30s – 121% – 150% of FTP with 1 min easy between
  • 15 min active ride – 70% of FTP
  • 15 min recovery

Advance workout:

  • Start with easy 10 min warm-up
  • 3 x 1 min – cadence 120
  • 15 min active ride – 70% of FTP
  • 4 x 90s – 121% – 150% of FTP with 90s easy between
  • 10 min easy ride
  • 4 x 90s – 121% – 150% of FTP with 90s easy between
  • 15 min recovery

Article by Damian Chlanda, Cyklopedia

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