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These 30-Minute Cycling Workouts Will Help You Get Fit Fast

Here are five sweat sessions designed to help you ride harder and longer in less time.

woman riding indoors on a bike trainer
Alejandra de la FuenteGetty Images

Let’s face it: Getting in a long ride sometimes just isn’t an option—especially during a pandemic. There are times when it’s all you can do to sneak in a brief trainer session or neighborhood spin.

Fortunately, a half-hour is all you need for a quick, but effective, workout to build and maintain fitness. For days when you’re time-crunched, try one of these five 30-minute workouts.

How to use these workouts: Each workout below details what to do, how long to do it for, and at what level. The level indicated is your RPE (rate of perceived exertion), so on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 is easier than a soft pedal while 10 is an all-out, eye-crossing effort. Perform one up to 3 or 4 times a week with an easy recovery day after.


1. Rock the Block

These sustained, tough efforts increase your calorie burn while building your tolerance to riding above your comfort level. Be sure to warm up and cool down properly.

cycling workouts
Ash Bartholomew

2. Ramp Jump

Don’t worry, this isn’t about catching air; it’s about ramping up your effort to full throttle, keeping it in the red for just a little longer, bringing it back down to recover, and then doing it all over again. (Get a better understanding of zone training in this video.) These ramping intervals help you hang on in a pack when the pace gets peppery. Perform the set twice for a clean 30 minutes, or three times total for a 42-minute workout.

cycling workouts
Ash Bartholomew


3. Flick the Switch

Lace up the gloves and get in the ring for this punchy workout. These repeated full-gas efforts suck up tons of energy and help raise your fitness ceiling so you can ride faster and longer, with less fatigue.

cycling workouts
Ash Bartholomew

4. Old School HIIT

Tabatas are named after their originator Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata, who cooked up the interval scheme with his team of researchers at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo in the 1990s. They’re designed to train both your aerobic and anaerobic systems in a very short amount of time.

cycling workouts
Ash Bartholomew

5. Riding the Line

To improve your sustainable power, you need to ride that razor’s edge right below your threshold and then a hair over it to coax your body to be better and clearing lactate. These intervals will help. They’re easiest to do on a moderate climb, but you can also do in a big gear on flat roads or on the trainer.

cycling workouts
Ash Bartholomew

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