Solo Ride: The Trick-Your-Body-Fit Workout

This workout will torch calories and crank up your strength and stamina

There are all sorts of ways to boost your fitness level with any given activity: Most approaches involve increasing the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts (the FITT principle). Or, you can take a stealth approach with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. Or, you can frequently change up the types of exercise you do.

The solo interval ride that follows takes yet another approach: Interspersed among tough hill climbs and low-resistance speed intervals are cadence challenges.

The goal during these challenges is to find a comfortable pace and hold it steady as you increase or decrease your resistance, thus making your muscles adjust to the changes. This essentially tricks your body—particularly your heart, lungs, and muscles—into getting fitter faster than they would with steady state exercise. (Psst: It’s a great way to bust through a fitness plateau!)

Get ready to sweat buckets during the ride and feel euphoric afterwards. First, fill a large water bottle to keep you well hydrated during the workout and grab a towel. Then, put together your playlist and climb onto the saddle for this 50-minute ride.

Song:  Ecstasy, Rusted Root

What to Do: Warm up. Sit and pedal with light-to-moderate resistance at a steady pace for 2 minutes; focus on achieving big, smooth pedal strokes, hitting every point on the circle with each leg. Add a little resistance then transfer the work to your right leg for 30 seconds; next, switch the work to your left leg for 30 seconds.

Add a little more resistance and engage both legs for 1 minute. Add a pedal stroke and pick up your pace for the rest of the song.

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

Songs: Lunatic Fringe, Red Rider

What to Do: Add moderately heavy resistance and pedal steadily in the saddle for 45 seconds then add some resistance.

After another 45 seconds, stand, place your hands in position 3, add a little more resistance and make it a heavy standing climb for 1 minute. Have a seat, add a little resistance, and keep pushing for 45 seconds. Stand (hands in position 3) and continue the climb; add resistance after 30 seconds and keep pedaling until you reach the top. 

Duration: 4½ minutes             Speed (RPM):  50+                 Difficulty (RPE):  8-9

Song: When You Were Mine, Prince 

What to Do: With moderate resistance on the bike, find and maintain a quick pace that feels comfortable to you (between 70 and 90 RPMs) for 45 seconds. Add a little resistance and keep your pace steady for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance, bring yourself to a standing position (hands in position 3) and keep your pace steady for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance, sit and continue your steady pace for 45 seconds. Drop a little resistance, stand (hands in position 3) and pedal steadily for 45 seconds. Have a seat, drop some resistance, and ride out the song.

Duration: 4 minutes             Speed (RPM):  70/90             Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: Get Busy, Sean Paul

What to Do: Bring your resistance down so that it feels like you’re just above a flat road. Find a quick baseline pace and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Do a 25-second speed interval, pedaling as fast as you can. Slow down to the baseline pace for 30 seconds; then, do a 30-second speed interval. Repeat the pattern until the end of the song.

Duration:  3½ minutes          Speed (RPM):  70-80/110         Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

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

What to Do: Add resistance to simulate a moderately challenging hill and pedal with a strong pace for 1 minute. Add a bit of resistance and stand up (hands in position 3), riding at a quick pace in sync with the beat for 30 seconds. Return to the saddle and pedal hard for 1 minute, adding resistance after 30 seconds. Add a bit more resistance, stand up (hands in position 3) and ride for 30 seconds. Have a seat, add a little resistance, and pedal for 1 minute. Add a bit of resistance and stand (hands in position 3), riding at a quick pace 1 minute. Have a seat, add a little resistance, and pedal for 30 seconds. Add a little more resistance, stand (hands in position 3) and ride for 1 minute; if you can take a little more resistance, add it now and finish the ride standing.

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

Song: Firestone, Kygo

What to Do: Drop your resistance to a moderate level, and pedal at a quick pace that feels comfortable to you (between 70 and 90 RPMs) for 45 seconds. Add a little resistance and keep your pace steady for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance and keep your pace steady for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance and continue your steady pace for 45 seconds. Drop a little resistance and pedal steadily for 45 seconds. Drop a bit more resistance, and keep your pace steady ‘til the end of the song.

Duration: 4½ minutes           Speed (RPM):  70/90            Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: Bang Bang, Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj    

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

Duration: 3¼ minutes           Speed (RPM):  70/100          Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: Believe, Mumford & Sons 

What to Do: With moderately heavy resistance on the bike, find and maintain a quick pace (between 70 and 80 RPMs) for 45 seconds. Add a little resistance and keep your pace steady for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance, bring yourself to a standing position (hands in position 3) and ride hard for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance, sit and continue pedaling for 45 seconds. Add a little more resistance, stand (hands in position 3) and pedal steadily ‘til the end of the song.

Duration: 3½ minutes           Speed (RPM):  70/80            Difficulty (RPE):  7-8

Song: Suave, Nayer

What to Do: Drop some resistance from the bike so it feels like you’re just above a flat road. Find a quick baseline pace and pedal steadily for 30 seconds. Do a 25-second speed interval, pedaling as fast as you can. Slow down to the baseline pace for 30 seconds; then, do a 30-second speed interval. Repeat the pattern until the end of the song.

Duration:  4 minutes             Speed (RPM):  70-80/110    Difficulty (RPE):  6-7

Song: Eyes Without a Face, Billy Idol

What to Do: Add medium-heavy resistance, and stand and pedal with your hands in position 3 for 2¼ minutes. Drop the resistance to a flat road and pedal as fast as you possibly can for 1¼ minutes. Add resistance and return to a standing climb for the rest of the song.

Duration: 5 minutes              Speed (RPM):  60+/120        Difficulty (RPE):  8-9

Cool-down

Song: Crazy, Seal     

What to Do: Drop your resistance to simulate a flat road and pedal steadily for 1 minute. While keeping your legs moving, sit up tall in the saddle. Take some big, deep breaths, and do a series of upper body stretches. Climb off the bike and follow with a series of lower body stretches on the floor.

Duration:  6 minutes             Speed (RPM):  50+    Difficulty (RPE):  3-4

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