3 Indoor Fat-Busting Cycling Intervals

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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3 Indoor Fat-Busting Cycling Intervals

A common misconception is that interval training is only for serious cyclists who are training for a race. But intervals can benefit anyone, and they’re certainly worthwhile for the novice cyclist looking to shed a few pounds.

Interval training gets a lot done in a little time. Rather than cruising along in the relatively easy fat-burning zone, hoping to lose a few inches from your waistline, the hallmark high-intensity bouts of interval training will help you burn more calories in less time. It’ll speed up your metabolism, too, resulting in more caloric expenditure throughout the rest of the day than with steady-state efforts.

Indoor training is especially conducive to interval training, so while you wait around for warmer weather, try these three interval workouts that will get you fit for the season ahead.


High-intensity training will put more strain on your muscles and joints. Pedaling in larger gears for extended periods of time may also increase soreness. Make sure you’ve had a bike fit and are pain-free before attempting interval sessions on the indoor trainer.

Also keep in mind that interval sessions should be completed no more than three times per week to avoid overuse injuries. Rest is a necessary part of interval training that will allow your muscles to recover properly. Always schedule easy or long, slow rides in between interval sessions, or try a cross-training activity.


The benefit: An interval set at the end of a workout will jump-start your metabolism after your ride and burn more calories even when your session is over. It’ll also teach you to get more comfortable pushing yourself through fatigue.

Warmup: Spin easy for 5–10 minutes.

Main set: Ride at your normal pace for 30–60 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of your ride, complete 6 x 90-second efforts, riding as hard as you can for each effort. Pedal easy for 30 seconds in between each repetition.

Cooldown: Spin easy for 5–10 minutes.


The benefit: When you’re strapped for time and need to get in a quick workout, this session only takes around 20 minutes to complete and will burn a serious amount of calories.

Warmup: Spin easy for 3–5 minutes.

Main set: Complete 5 x 30 seconds of all-out effort, with 30 seconds of recovery in between each repetition. Recover for 4 minutes of easy spinning, then repeat the 5 x 30 seconds, with 30 seconds of recovery in between each effort.

Cooldown: Spin easy for 3–5 minutes.

Tip: Do the second set of 5 x 30-second efforts just as hard as you did the first set. This will teach you how to pace yourself for sustained efforts out on the road.


The benefit: For a harder day, this 60-minute interval session will burn loads of calories and increase your overall aerobic capacity, which will help you ride longer out on the road when the weather gets warmer.

Warmup: Spin easy for 5 minutes. At the end of your warmup, spin for 1 minute at a cadence above 110 revolutions per minute using an easy gear. Complete this 3 times, recovering for 1 minute between each high-cadence effort. This will prepare your muscles for the main set.

Main set: Complete 5 x 2 minutes at an all-out effort. Recover for 2 minutes in between each repetition. Spin easy for 5 minutes, then complete another 5 x 2 minutes, recovering for 2 minutes in between.

Cooldown: Spin easy for 5–10 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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