Riding Solo: The Need for Speed

Take yourself for a joy ride with this fast-paced cycling workout.

It’s great to build endurance or climb hills but sometimes you just want to go fast! (Never mind that you’re riding a bike to nowhere in indoor cycling.) With the solo ride that follows, the goal is to keep your pace or cadence quick and to strengthen your fast-twitch muscles with sprints and speed surges. It’s an exhilarating workout that will send you on your way, with a spring in your step and a serious boost in your mood.

Download the following songs and create a playlist. Grab a towel because you'll sweat buckets and a large water bottle to keep you well hydrated. Then, get ready for this 45-minute fast ride.

Song:  Shut Up and Dance, Walk the Moon

What to Do: Warm up. With hands at the back of the handlebars, sit and pedal steadily against light resistance for 1½ minutes. Transfer the work to your right leg for 30 seconds, then your left leg for 30 seconds. Engage both legs again.

Duration: 3¼ minutes           Speed (RPM): 80-100     Difficulty (RPE):  4-5

Song:  Animals, Maroon 5

What to Do: Add moderate resistance and pedal while seated for 30 seconds. Add a little resistance (about two gears), stand and bring your hands to position 3, and increase your pace for 30 seconds. Shift to a standing jog with hands in position 2 for 30 seconds. Return to the saddle; repeat the sequence.

Duration: 4 minutes              Speed (RPM): 60-80                         Difficulty (RPE):  5-6

Song:  Cheers, Rihanna 

What to Do: Add moderately heavy resistance and pedal while seated for 30 seconds. Turn up the resistance a bit, stand, place your hands in position 3, and pick up your pace for 30 seconds. Return to the saddle and pedal for 30 seconds; add a bit more resistance and ride in a standing position (hands in position 3) for 30 seconds.

Repeat the sequence ‘til the end of the song.

Duration: 4¼ minutes           Speed (RPM): 50+       Difficulty (RPE):  7-9

Song:  Angel On My Shoulder, Kaskade 

What to Do: While seated in the saddle, pedal at a brisk clip with mild resistance on the bike (just above a flat road). Try to keep your pace steady all the way.

Duration: 4 minutes Speed (RPM):  80-90            Difficulty (RPE): 6

Song: Believe, Mumford & Sons 

What to Do: With moderate resistance, maintain a steady pace (70 to 80 RPMs) for 30 seconds; add some resistance and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Then, increase your pace by 10 RPMs (80 to 90 RPMs; do a cadence check) for the next 30 seconds; for the following 30 seconds, add a little resistance and maintain 80-90 RPMs. Up your pace by another 10 RPMs (to 90 to 100 RPMs) for 30 seconds, then add resistance and maintain your pace (90-100). Drop a gear and 10 RPMs for 30 seconds; then, drop another 10 RPMs for the last 30 seconds.  

Duration: 4 minutes              Speed (RPM):  70-100          Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: Hot, Inna

What to Do: With light to moderate resistance on the bike, find a quick baseline pace (70-80 RPMs) and pedal steadily for 30 seconds; do a 25-second speed interval (RPMs of 110). Repeat the pattern throughout the song. 

Duration: 4 minutes             Speed (RPM):  70/110           Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: Red Lights, Tiesto

What to Do:  Add moderately heavy resistance and do a seated climb, adding resistance every 30 seconds. When you can’t take any more resistance in the saddle, bring yourself to a standing climb (hands in position 3) and continue adding resistance every 30 seconds until you reach the top. 

Duration: 4½ minutes           Speed (RPM):  50+   Difficulty (RPE):  8+

Song:  Love Runs Out, OneRepublic 

What to Do: With moderate resistance, sit and pedal for 30 seconds. Add resistance (about two gears), stand (with hands in position 3), and pick up your pace for 30 seconds. Shift to a standing jog (hands in position 2) for 30 seconds. Return to the saddle; repeat the sequence.

Duration: 4 minutes              Speed (RPM): 60-80             Difficulty (RPE):  5-6

Song: Born This Way, Lady Gaga

What to Do: With light to moderate resistance on the bike, find a quick baseline pace (70-80 RPMs) and pedal steadily for 20 seconds; do a 20-second speed surge (RPMs of 100) then return to 70-80 RPMs for 20 seconds then rev it back up to 100. Continue the pattern throughout the song. 

Duration: 4¼   minutes         Speed (RPM):  70/100          Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: After Midnight, Blink-182

What to Do: Against moderate resistance, maintain a steady pace (70 to 80 RPMs) for 30 seconds; add a little resistance and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Increase your pace by 10 RPMs (80 to 90 RPMs) for 30 seconds; add some resistance and maintain your 80-90 RPM pace for 30 seconds. Next, increase your pace to 90 to 100 RPMs for 30 seconds, then add a little resistance and stay steady (90-100) for 30 seconds. Finally, drop a gear and drop 10 RPMs for 30 seconds.  

Duration: 3½ minutes           Speed (RPM):  70-100          Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: White Wedding, Billy Idol

What to Do: Add medium-heavy resistance. Stand and pedal with hands in position 3 for 1 minute; rev up your pace for 20 seconds. Return to a more comfortable cadence and add resistance; pedal steadily for 1 minute then rev up your pace for 20 seconds. Repeat for the rest of the song.

Duration: 4¼ minutes           Speed (RPM):  50+   Difficulty (RPE):  8-9

Song: Prayer in C, Robin Schulz & Lily Wood & The Prick 

What to Do: Cool down. While seated, pedal steadily against light resistance. For the last minute, sit up tall in the saddle, take some deep breaths, and do a series of upper body stretches.

Duration: 3 minutes              Speed (RPM):  50      Difficulty (RPE):  2-3

Awesome job!   

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