So, what is interval training, what are the benefits, how does it compare to other types of exercise and how can you build an exercise bike workout into your fitness routine?
This quick comprehensive guide aims to answer these commonly asked questions and give some exercise bike workout examples to help you get the most from your exercise bike.
What is interval training?
Interval training, often referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). A HIIT exercise routine is carried out for short-ish periods (often 20-30 minutes). They focus on varying speed and intensity throughout, with periods of high speed/intensity and recovery periods.
HIIT sessions are carried out with various different equipment. These include cardio machines, weights, or even just your body weight.
Benefits of interval training
There are several benefits to interval training:
Burns fat – in terms of bang per buck, the calories burnt per minute are really high. Plus you get an after-burn effect where your body continues to burn calories long after you finish.
Builds lean muscle mass – meaning you not only lose fat you improve body shape and composition.
Improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity – by exercising heart, lungs, and energy production systems.
How do these benefits come about?
The fat burning is a result of three major factors:
Firstly, the fact that you are exercising means that the body is burning calories at a higher rate than if you were at rest. This means you engage a lot of muscles, and at high intensity. Therefore boosting calorie burning compared to slower steady state exercises. Rigorous interval training sessions have been shown to burn +200 calories every 10 mins. Meaning that a 30-minute session at full intensity can burn through +600 calories! Remember any form of exercise needs to be accompanied by a good diet to see the full benefits.
Secondly, this type of exercise requires more oxygen than the heart and lungs can supply. This means that your body creates an oxygen “debt” after exercise, with the body having to work to resupply oxygen. The resupply of oxygen requires energy and the burning of further calories long after exercise ceases. This is known as Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. This type of exercise also switches your body into anaerobic energy production. Glycogen stores in muscles are depleted and can be replaced by burning fat under certain conditions.
Finally, interval training builds lean muscle mass. As muscle requires more calories to fuel than fat, your resting metabolism will rise, meaning you burn more fat at rest.
How often should I interval train?
Interval training is intense, and therefore is not suitable to be carried out every day. The fitter you are the less time you need to recover from heavy exertion. When you are just starting out you should stick to twice a week. The fitter amongst you can just leave a day’s rest in between.
Can I do other forms of training as well?
Including other forms of exercise into your routine is advisable. Each of the major types, cardio, interval, and weight training have their own benefits, so a well-rounded fitness program includes all of them. Building some low intensity cardio training into rest days is a great way to work on cardiovascular health. It can also speed recovery between HIIT sessions. Weight training and interval training are both more intense and more demanding on recovery. They should be separated by a day of rest or light cardio. Remember it’s important to also have at least one day a week with no training at all. This enables you to get maximum benefits from working out. Helping keep your body in good health.
Exercise Bike Workout Programmes
Try these exercise bike workout programmes, progressing in difficulty, to take your exercise bike training to the next level:
Remember it is very important to warm up and cool down properly before and after exercise. To make the best recovery correct refuelling is key.
You can read our guides on the importance of doing so here:
1 – Beginner level
This interval workout is designed for someone that has some experience using an exercise bike. However they are yet to push intensity until now.
The gap between the high intensity work periods is on the long side for interval training. This is deliberately so as this is designed to ease you in gently. It gets the body used to working out in this style, and starts to build cardiovascular endurance. Preparing the heart and lungs for more vigorous workouts.
Description of intensity levels:
Low – minimal resistance, should take as much effort as walking.
Moderate – level of resistance and speed as if you were going to train at level you could complete in 30 minutes and feel tired (but not exhausted) by the end.
High – high resistance level at maximum speed you can pedal.
2 – Intermediate level
This interval workout is designed for someone that has completed and become accustomed to the beginner level workout. They now ready to push themselves harder.
The body has become accustomed to this style of training. Progression made by shortening the length of the recovery periods. Adding one more work stage. The shorter rest periods mean the heart and lungs will have to work harder. Pushing muscle endurance further.
3 – Advanced level
This interval workout is designed for someone that has completed and become accustomed to the intermediate level workout. They are now ready to push themselves even more.
This will push your cardiovascular system even harder. By now you should find that you can push yourself further during the work stages, with greater speed at a higher resistance. It is important to keep progressing these elements to get maximum benefits. The rest periods decrease in length meaning your heart works harder and your body creates a greater oxygen debt.
When you progress to the advanced workout stage your levels of fitness will have increased dramatically. Congratulations, you have become a fat burning machine!
The wrap up
We hope you found this article both interesting and helpful. That you get the most you can from an exercise bike workout.
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