Want to up your biking speed? It could be as simple as grabbing your favorite book, sitting down on that stationary bike, and pedaling away. A new study from the University of Florida shows that people who performed easy visual or verbal activities while on a bike improved their speed by almost 25 percent.
A little bit of multitasking could be the key to your increased speed, it seems. “If you’re inactive, and if multitasking is the only way you’re going to do anything, then you could definitely see a difference,” says Lisa Niren, head coach at Peloton Cycle. Rejoice, people! You can get work done and spend some time on the bike. Win, win, right?
Maybe not so much.
“Multitasking is not maximizing your time if you’re looking to get in shape, get fit, lose weight, or train,” adds Niren. “If you’re sitting on the bike for an hour and reading a book, you’re not getting the same benefit as you would from a quick 30-, 40-minute interval workout that would maximize your time.”
But don’t just take Niren’s word for it, science agrees. In 2007, Canadian researchers had a group of women do an interval training—alternating cycling hard for four minutes and easy for two, 10 times—every other day. After two weeks, the amount of fat they could burn in an hour of continuous moderate-intensity cycling increased by 36 percent and their cardiovascular fitness improved 13 percent. Translation? High intensity iunterval training has overall better-body benefits.
“Breathe heavy now, and you’ll breathe lighter all day,” Niren says. Looking to sweat efficiently and boost your cardiovascular capacity? Check out Niren’s tips for a more efficient, speedy spin workout:
1. Start on a Flat Road. This warm-up period on a “flat road,” or a level of resistance that feels easy to maintain and not too challenging, lasts between 4 to 5 minutes, or one song. “Just think about your pace, Niren suggests. “You want to get your body used to the bike and the bursts ahead.”
2. Begin to Add Intensity. An easy way to up intensity on a spin bike is by increasing your effort dramatically over the course of 30 seconds, then pulling back. Add some resistance to your “road,” then do three rounds of 30-second bursts, followed by 15-second rests. To keep yourself motivated, align your pedal strokes to the beat. “The music really helps your stay focused, so push to the beat,” says Niren.
3. Shock Your Body. The interval training will force your body to keep up with the beat, and the changes in pace and resistance are key. “Next, go into a jog,” Niren suggests, which brings you to a standing position on your bike, hands resting on the center of the handle bars below — commonly referred to second position. “Starting to do intervals in and out of the saddle will bring your heart rate up,” says Niren. Try going in between rising and sitting, doing a series of jumps where you rise out of the saddle for 8 seconds, then go back to sitting for 8 counts. Trust us, your thighs will feel this one.
4. Climb That Hill. Whether it’s a straight or mini hill, keep those feet moving. This is around the time Niren swaps things out to a club beat in her classes at Peloton. Her stance? A dance-worthy song, coupled with constant movement and a straight climb, will pay off at the end. Make your “hill” by adding more resistance to your road, where pedal strokes become very challenging. Put in continuous effort for about 45 seconds, then return to the saddle for about 8 counts. Repeat that three times.
5. Bring It Back. As your spin intervals fluctuate, you’ll eventually end up on another easy-to-manage “flat road.” The goal? “Use your time wisely so your calorie burns and output are matching what you’d be doing in a longer, more spaced-out routine,” Niren says. “Intervals [like this] will help you out with speed and endurance.”