Eight HIIT workouts for faster rides

We take a look at eight sessions perfect for getting training benefits in a constrained time schedule

This article is part of a series on indoor cycling, supported by Wattbike

Getting the most out of your time on the bike is something that all of us want to achieve in our time stringent lives. A great way to do that is through HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions, which allows us to squeeze in a short, sharp session but can also produce massive training benefits.

One of the best ways to do this is on an indoor turbo trainer or a static bike like a Wattbike Atom for example, where you can ride at specific intervals and intensities to the exact second and power output. These smart trainers can also automatically adjust resistance based on the wattage of the intervals in your training session if it’s set through a training platform like Zwift and Sufferfest, or proprietary apps like Wattbike’s Hub. That means you just need to concentrate on your performance rather than constantly watching your power output, helping you nail each interval perfectly. Training indoors can also be ideal if you have set sessions that can be affected out on the open road by the irregularities of terrain, weather and traffic.

Here are eight of the best HIIT workouts for you to try on your turbo trainer or Wattbike at home.

HIIT Pyramid

Time taken: 23 minutes

This session focuses on gradually building up the interval intensity with a mixture of all-out zone five intervals followed by zone one recovery blocks, before coming back down again like a pyramid. This eight-minute interval can be repeated as many times as your time schedule or ability allows for.

Time (minutes) Zone
0-10 1-3
10:00-10:15 5
10:15-11:00 1
11:00-11:30 5
11:30-12:00 1
12:00-12:45 4-5
12:45-13:00 1
13:00-14:00 4-5
14:00-15:00 1
15:00-15:45 4-5
15:45-16:00 1
16:00-16:30 5
16:30-17:00 1
17:00-17:15 5
17:15-18:00 1
*Repeat block depending on ability or time restraints*
18:00-23:00 1-2

Micro intervals I

Time taken: 25 minutes

This micro interval session is all about short high-intensity efforts of 15 seconds apiece, followed by increasing the next batch of all-out efforts to 20 seconds for each zone five effort.

Time (minutes) Zone
0:00-5:00 1-3
5:00-5:15 1
5:15-6:30 5
6:30-6:45 1
6:45-8:15 5
8:15-8:30 1
8:30-9:45 5
9:45-10:00 1
10:00-12:00 5
12:00-12:20 1
12:20-14:00 5
14:00-14:20 1
14:20-16:00 1
16:00-16:20 5
16:20-18:00 1
18:00-18:20 5
18:20-20:00 1
20:00-25:00 1-3

Micro intervals II

Time taken: 26 minutes

This micro interval session is purely done on feel, rather than training zones or power outputs. Slowly building up each 40 second efforts with 20 seconds rest, be sure to stick to these timings and lengths so you fully achieve the 10/10 effort to culminate the session.

Time (minutes) Effort level
0:00-5:00 Warm up
5:00-5:40 6/10
5:40-6:00 Recover
6:00-6:40 6/10
6:40-7:00 Recover
7:00-7:40 7/10
7:40-8:00 Recover
8:00-8:40 7/10
8:40-9:00 Recover
9:00-9:40 7/10
9:40-10:00 Recover
10:00-10:40 7/10
10:40-11:00 Recover
11:00-11:40 8/10
11:40-12:00 Recover
12:00-12:40 8/10
12:40-13:00 Recover
13:00-13:40 8/10
13:40-14:00 Recover
14:00-14:40 8/10
14:40-15:00 Recover
15:00-15:40 10/10
15:40-16:00 Recover
16:00-26:00 Cool down

Pedal to perfection

Time taken: 40 minutes

The aim of this workout is to focus on manipulating your cadence and gearing around each effort, with each set slowly tweaking the cadence and subsequent efforts, interspersed with minute recoveries.

Time (minutes) Cadence (RPM) Zone
0-10 90 1
10-12 90 4
12-14 95 4
14-15 Self-selected 2
15-17 100 4
17-19 105 4
19-20 Self-selected 2
20-22 110 4
22-24 115 4
24-25 Self-selected 2
25-27 110 4
27-29 105 4
29-30 Self-selected 2
30-32 100 4
32-34 95 4
34-40 Cool down

5x5s

Time taken: 70 minutes

This workout, as its name suggests, includes five-minute maximal intervals, followed by five-minute recovery blocks repeated five times. Try not to overly focus on pacing as you won’t exert yourself hard enough for the five minute interval.

Time (minutes) Zone
0-10 1-3
10-15 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
15-20 1
20-25 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
25-30 1
30-35 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
35-40 1
40-45 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
45-50 1
50-55 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
55-60 1
60-65 VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)
65-70 1-3

Train for sprint success

Time taken: 30 minutes

Focus on unleashing a strong and consistent zone five effort here, if 30 seconds is too long to sustain, shorten each effort so you are sill able to complete all the repetitions.

Time (minutes) Zone
0-10 1-2
10-10:30 5
10:30-15 2-3
15-15:30 5
15:30-19 2-3
19-19:30 5
19:30-22 2-3
22-22:30 5
22:30-25 2-3
25-25:30 5
25:30-30 1-2

Hill climb replication

Time taken: 50 minutes

Most British climbs are short and sharp and this session is ideal for preparing for them with four-minute intervals replicating these type of climbs. Ensure you gradually build throughout each interval starting in a steady zone four effort before building and ending each four-minute interval in zone five.

Time (minutes) Zone
0-15 1-3
15-19 4-5
19-23 2
23-27 4-5
27-31 2
31-35 4-5
35-39 2
39-43 4-5
43-50 1-2

Cadence, Cadence, Cadence

Time taken: 35 minutes

As the name of this session subtly implies, the intensities are dictated by cadence. Increasing and reducing the intensity of the session through cadence helps improve your ability to maintain your pedalling form at different cadences. It’s important to stick to the structure of the session; even if it seems easier to ride at a higher cadence, you will be thankful you held something back for the end.

Time (minutes) Cadence (RPM) Zone
0-10 75 2
10-12 110 4
12-14 80 3
14-15 110 4
15-17 80 3
17-18 110 4
18-23 80 2
23-24 120 5
24-26 90 3
26-27 120 5
27-29 90 3
29-35 70 2

Cycling Weekly created this content as part of a paid partnership with Wattbike. The contents of this article are entirely independent and solely reflect the editorial opinion of Cycling Weekly.