High-intensity interval training (HIIT) on an indoor bike means you’ll alternately cycle at a moderate pace with intense moves. The right way to do it is to start slow. Get your space ready, do short sessions, and then try other challenging HIIT workouts.

Check out this step-by-step guide to help you get started. I also included some tips you can do to enhance your HIIT sessions.

How to Prep for HIIT on a Stationary Bike

Steps to Do Interval Training on a Stationary Bike

Ready to start your HIIT workout? Here’s how to do it.

1. Prep your bike and workout area.

HIIT is all about making the most of your short workout time. That means you have to inspect your bike and see to it that it is in the correct position. Make sure to adjust the bike seat, handle, monitor and so on beforehand. If you’re exercising with a spin bike, this how-to guide might help you set up your machine.

Other essentials, like a towel and water bottle, should also be within reach to avoid pausing mid-workout. HIIT is best with good workout music, too. Having the speakers and your playlist ready should quickly get you in the zone, especially when you need to speed up!

2. Start your 5-minute warm-up.

Your high-intensity interval training on a stationary bike doesn’t mean an immediate heart-pounding sweat session. Whether a beginner or an experienced rider, your HIIT routine should always start with a warm-up.

Warming up before exercise protects your body from injuries and makes you feel less sore post-workout. How should you warm up the right way? Set your exercise bike at a low-to-medium resistance level, then start pedalling. Your warm-up should stay within a comfortable pace where you can still carry on a conversation.

Remember that warm-up mode varies from person to person, depending on our fitness level. Also, this phase aims to warm up your muscles and boost your temperature to prepare your body for more intense exercises. So, if you feel like running out of breath already, slow down or adjust the resistance. Reserve your energy for more powerful cycling later.

Adjusting Bike Resistance for Interval Training

3. Crank up your pace for 1 minute.

Once done with your 5-minute warm-up, get ready to boost your resistance level and speed. Your resistance should be higher than your warm-up but will allow you to cycle fast. As for speed, pedal where you cannot carry on a conversation and can feel your heart rate rising.

4. Perform a 2-minute active recovery.

Active recovery happens each time you complete an intense phase of your stationary bike interval training. At this phase, pedal at a lower resistance or speed to lower your heart rate. The goal is to give your body time to recharge and gain power for another round of intense exercise.

Your resistance and speed levels for this should be slightly lower than the intense phase but higher than your warm-up mode. Remember to adjust your recovery period when you extend your high-intensity phase. Your recovery time should always be twice as long as your intense phase.

5. Repeat steps #3 and #4, then cool down for 5 minutes.

Now, it’s time to do the interval part of your training. After your active recovery ride, repeat step 3 (intense phase), then step 4 (recovery phase). Continue this back-and-forth pattern until you’re ready to cool down and cap your stationary bike workout.

Ideally, start with five sets each of intense and recovery periods. But if you’re unable to do that, don’t worry. The great thing about high-intensity interval training on a stationary bike is that it’s progressive. You can always start slow, then gradually progress.

It might be a struggle to complete five rounds now, but extended HIIT may no longer be a problem for you in a few months! As for your cool-down phase, you can apply the same resistance and speed levels as with your warm-up. You can also do some simple stretching exercises or yoga if you like.

Tips for Effective HIIT Bike Workouts

Tips for Better Stationary Bike Interval Training Sessions

Doing HIIT and sticking to this type of workout can be challenging.

So, here are some tips and guidelines you can apply to optimise your interval training experience.

  • Consult a professional. If you’re new to HIIT, it’s best to get advice from a gym instructor or expert. Ask for interval training program suggestions, ideal bike settings, progress tracking and more.
  • Ease into HIIT workouts. Don’t overexert yourself, and start slowly. Remember, HIIT workouts are physically demanding. You won’t be able to progress and continue doing them if you feel very sore or end up with an injury. I recommend doing beginner bike workouts first before working your way up.
  • Create a schedule. Like other workouts, you’ll succeed in HIIT if you have a time plan for it. For instance, you can start with a 30-minute HIIT one or two times each week. Afterwards, on weeks 3 or 4, try doing 45-minute sessions three to four times weekly. This way, you’ll progress continuously and observe consistency.
  • Always begin your HIIT with a warm-up. Make sure to allocate time for cool-down at the end, too. Do this even if you get better at interval training.

Some exercise bike types are better suited for HIIT workouts. Check out my reviews and buying guides to learn more.

What Are the Benefits of Indoor Cycling HIIT?

Before you start learning how to do interval training on a stationary bike, it’s best to understand what makes it so great.

Here are some of the benefits you get from it:

  • It burns a lot of calories within a short time. The more effort you put into your stationary bike workout, the higher your calorie burn rate will be. So, on days when you are time-poor, HIIT on the bike is a good alternative.
  • It keeps your metabolism up even post-workout. Exercise intensity can boost your metabolism for hours after exercise. That means you’ll still be burning calories even at rest. This effect is also another reason why HIIT is an effective calorie burner.
  • It helps with fat loss. Are you cycling to trim down your belly? HIIT can surely help you with this goal. Exercise intensity results in a high caloric burn, which leads to fast weight loss. And once you start losing weight, fat loss follows.
  • It improves your endurance, aerobic capacity and heart health. Usually, people would stretch their exercise time to enhance their oxygen consumption and stamina. With HIIT, you can get the same benefit even in short exercise sessions. Aside from improved aerobic power, a study by Panissa et.al. (2021) published in Obesity Reviews also shows that HIIT helps with cardio fitness, particularly in reducing blood pressure.

What Other Exercises Can I Do on a Stationary Bike?

You can try doing exercises for your arms while on a stationary bike. For instance, pedal at a steady pace, then use dumbbells, resistance bands or a medicine ball to move your upper body. Non-equipment moves like bike push-ups and arm circles are good options, too. You may also work out on a bike with movable handles.