I have had the same bicycle trainer workout for a few years. At 40-55 minutes long, it was pretty comprehensive and very adaptable to your own tastes. It was, for many first-timers, long (albeit fairly standard for those who use trainers often). Recently, I read the Body For Life book by Bill Phillips and adapted his concept of a “20 Minute Aerobics Solution” to my trainer workout. Simply put, you warm up and go straight to the hard part. The book is a great read and very helpful in presenting a concept that keeps you focused and intense—both of which my workouts had been lacking.
This bicycle trainer workout is based on “perceived exertion levels”. This scale means that “0” is like sitting down, “5” is like walking up stairs and “10” is all-out-run-for-your-life hard. Key to this concept is that the levels are YOUR perceived levels of exertion. “Your” 10 may be different from someone else’s—It doesn’t matter. Realize, too, that after you work out for a while, an effort that you used to consider a “5” might now only be a “4”. You are getting stronger! The plan will be as follows.
First, you will warm up. I can’t do a hard effort without a 5-10 minute warm-up. After warm-up, you will begin 4 blocks of increasingly harder efforts. Each block will be 1 min @ level “6”, 1 min. @ level “7”, 1 min. @ level “8” and 1 min. @ level “9”. At the finish of the 4th block, you will add 1 min. @ level “10”—your all out effort. To complete the workout, warm-down by spinning easy for 5 minutes.
What you will end up with are 4 blocks of progressively harder effort with a big finish at the end. If you do a 5 minute warm-up/down at each end, you end up with a 27 minute workout (about HALF of my former workout). The efforts are hard intervals, which build leg strength and power. Done correctly, they are HARD. A hard, intense workout is what you need to move forward, fitness-wise, and probably the reason you bought a trainer in the first place.
Getting right down to it, with the core of the workout only 17 minutes long, it is much easier to stay focused and truly give a good effort (compared to riding for nearly an hour).
- 5-10 minute warm-up (Easy pace, loosen legs, stretch and get heart rate up)
- min. 1 level “6” effort
- min. 2 level “7” effort
- min. 3 level “8” effort
- min. 4 level “9” effort
- min. 5-8 --repeat 1-4
- min. 9-12 --repeat 1-4
- min. 13-16 --repeat 1-4
- min. 17 level “10” effort
- 5 minute warm-down (Easy pace, spin out lactic acid, lower heart rate)