Riding Solo: A Beat-Based Ride

Get ready to dance with this fast-tempo workout!

Hispanic man on exercise bikes in health club
Blend Images/John Lund/Marc Romanelli/Getty

With this ride, you’re going to take a different approach. Instead of keeping track of your RPMs, you’re going to adjust your pace to the beat of the music—it’s a beat-based workout, in other words. When the music speeds up, you will, too. When the tempo is slower, you’ll ride at a slower pace. In both instances, you’ll adjust your resistance up and down so that at some points you’re cycling at a brisk clip against moderately heavy resistance.

Instead of pushing your resistance to the max, you’ll top out at gear 20 on a bike with 24 gears or 80 to 85 percent of the most resistance you can handle on a bike without a gear indicator. You’ll be surprised at what a great workout this is, especially because your body will be grooving to the music.

Download the following songs for your playlist. Have a towel handy (because you will sweat buckets!) and fill a large water bottle to keep you hydrated during the workout. Then, get ready to dance!

Song: Stitches, Shawn Mendes

What to Do: With your hands on the back of the handlebars, sit and pedal with light resistance at a steady pace that’s in time with the music for 1½ minutes. Add a little resistance. Maintain your pace and transfer the work to your right leg for 30 seconds, then switch it to your left leg for 30 seconds. Engage both legs again.

Duration: 3½ minutes   Difficulty (RPE):  4-5

Song: Don’t Stop, Foster the People

What to Do: Add enough resistance to support you in a standing position. Start by pedaling while seated for 30 seconds; then, stand and pedal with hands in position 3 for 30 seconds; bring your body upright (your hands to position 2) for 30 seconds. Sit and repeat.

Keep pace with the beat the whole time!

Duration: 3 minutes  Difficulty (RPE): 5-6

Song: Scream, Usher  

What to Do: Add moderately heavy resistance and do a seated climb to the beat. When the tempo picks up, stand with hands in position 3 and stay with the beat. When the tempo slows, return to the saddle and add resistance, continuing to ride with the beat. Repeat the pattern until the end of the song.

Duration: 4 minutes  Difficulty (RPE):  7

Song: 4 Minutes, Madonna

What to Do: With moderate resistance on the bike (enough to support you in a standing position), pedal steadily to the beat for 30 seconds. Then perform a series of 4-count jumps in time with the music for 2 minutes. Take a break and pedal to the beat while seated for 30 seconds. Jump to the beat for the last minute.

Duration: 4 minutes  Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Songs: Euphoria, Usher 

What to Do: Add medium-heavy resistance and sit and pedal to the beat for 1 minute. Add some resistance, bring yourself to a medium-heavy standing climb (hands in position 3), and pedal to the beat for 45 seconds.

Return to the saddle; repeat the pattern for the rest of the song.

Duration: 4½ minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: I Like It, Enrique Iglesias

What to Do: Drop resistance from the bike until you’re just above a flat road. Find a quick baseline pace that jibes with the music and pedal steadily. When the tempo picks up during the chorus, do a speed interval, pedaling as fast as you can. When the music slows, return to the baseline pace. Repeat the pattern throughout the song.

Duration: 4 minutes  Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson  

What to Do: Add moderately heavy resistance and pedal to the beat while seated. When the chorus kicks in, turn up the resistance, stand, place your hands in position 3, and pick up your pace. Return to the saddle and pedal to the beat; during the chorus, add a bit more resistance and ride in a standing position. Repeat the sequence ‘til the end of the song.

Duration:  6 minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  7-9

Song: Hot, Inna    

What to Do: Drop some resistance from the bike so that you’re just above a flat road. Find a quick pace and pedal to the beat for 1 minute. Add some resistance, bring yourself up to a medium-heavy standing climb (hands in position 3), and pedal to the beat for 45 seconds. Return to the saddle; repeat the pattern for the rest of the song.

Duration:  3½ minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: She Bangs (English version), Ricky Martin  

What to Do: Find a quick baseline pace that jibes with the music. When the tempo picks up during the chorus, do a speed interval, pedaling as fast as you can. When the music slows, return to the baseline pace. Repeat the pattern throughout the song.

Duration: 4½ minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  5-6

Song: Coracao, Jerry Ropero, Denis the Menace & Sabor

What to Do: Add resistance to simulate a moderately challenging hill and pedal to the beat for 2½ minutes, adding a bit of resistance every 45 seconds. Then, stand up (hands in position 3) and maintain a quick pace in sync with the beat, adding a touch of resistance every 45 seconds, for 2½ minutes. Drop your resistance to a flat road for the final 2 minutes and let your legs fly. 

Duration: 7 minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  7-9

Song: Soul Meets Body, Death Cab for Cutie   

What to Do: Bring your resistance down to a flat road and pedal steadily for 1 minute. Keep your legs moving and sit up tall in the saddle. Take some big, deep breaths, and do a series of upper body stretches, followed by lower body stretches off the bike.

Duration:  4 minutes    Difficulty (RPE):  3-4

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