3 Cycling Workouts in 30 Minutes or Less

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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3 Cycling Workouts in 30 Minutes or Less

Getting a quality cycling workout during the workweek is a major challenge. Fortunately, not every ride you do needs to be a 3-plus-hour suffer fest. Believe it or not, you can get in a lung-busting cycling workout in 30 minutes or less — and you won’t even need to leave your home.

For those days when cooking dinner and managing a busy work schedule don’t leave time for a long workout, try one of these quick workouts — on a trainer, at the gym or on the road — to help you burn calories, lose weight and become a faster overall cyclist.


This high-intensity interval session kicks your metabolism into high gear, helping you continue to burn calories for the rest of the day even when you’re off the bike.

Warmup: Spin easily for 5 minutes.

Main set: On a spin bike or indoor trainer, sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Your perceived rate of exertion (RPE) should be 10/10. Do eight all-out efforts.

The rest between each effort will vary. Following the first two intervals, recover for 3 minutes, pedaling easy. For intervals three and four, reduce your easy spinning recovery time to 2:30. Recovery time following intervals five and six will be 2 minutes, followed by a short 1:30 recovery between intervals seven and eight.

Cool down: Spin easily for 5 minutes.


This short 30-minute workout helps you get used to riding at higher-intensity levels for longer durations — and burns serious calories in a short amount of time.

Warmup: Spin easy for 3 minutes with a cadence above 90 rpm.

Main set: Either on the road or indoors, ride for 10 minutes, slowly increasing your RPE so your effort level is 8/10 in the final 5 minutes. If you’re using a power meter, you should increase your effort so the final 5 minutes are at threshold.

Recover with 3–4 minutes of easy spinning, backing off to an RPE of about 5/10.

Complete a second 10-minute set, this time getting up to an RPE of 8/10 after your first 2 minutes of ramping up your intensity level and hold for the final 8 minutes.

Cool down: Spin easily for 3 minutes.

As these 10-minute sets get easier, ramp up the amount of time you spend at your 8/10 RPE. Eventually you should aim to ride each 10-minute interval at an 8/10 RPE for the duration of the interval.



Part of getting faster is becoming more efficient at pedaling. This workout helps you pedal in smooth circles and increase your comfort using a high cadence.

Warmup: Spin easy for 5 minutes with a cadence above 90 rpm.

Main set: For the first part of the main set, you’ll be completing single leg pedaling drills, which requires you to unclip one foot. Either rest your foot on the frame of the trainer or sit a box or chair beside your bike.

Isolated Leg Training: For the first part of the main set, pedal only with the left leg for 30 seconds, then only with the right leg for 30 seconds, and then follow it with 1 minute of spinning in smooth circles with both legs. Complete this circuit three times before moving to the cadence drills.

Cadence Training: For the second part of the main set, you’ll work on increasing your cadence. Your effort level should stay around 6–7/10 on the RPE scale. For the first 2 minutes, keep your cadence at 100 rpm. Follow this by bumping your rpm up as close to 110 as you can for another 2 minutes. Try to keep your hips from rocking and your butt on the seat, pedaling in smooth circles. At the end of the second 2 minutes, recover for 1 minute of easy spinning. Repeat this circuit three times.

Cool down: Spin easily for 4 minutes.


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About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


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