Boost Cycling Fitness With High Intensity Training

Improve your cycling fitness and get into climbing shape without spending loads of time on the bike. Interval training builds muscle and cardio strength faster than long easy rides and takes much less time, according to a recent New York Times article.

High Intensity Training (H.I.T.) improves fitness, VO2 and strength more than straight cardio exercise.

Leading expert Martin Gibala, chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, showed in an experiment how riders doing short, strenuous intervals on stationary bikes (Wingate erometers) improved their cardio as much as riders who rode for more than 10 hours.

Other research has shown that H.I.T. improves one's ability to produce growth hormones, reduces risk for diabetes, and helps with weight control.

For those who don't have two or more hours for cycling mid-week, this approach may be the best way to get into climbing shape and out to the mountains faster this summer.

One of the exercises Gibala recommends is to "sprint for 60 seconds at a pace that feels unpleasant but sustainable, followed by 60 seconds of pedaling easily, then another 60-second sprint and recovery, 10 times in all."

Runners can also use this type of training: According to a study reported in this article, runners who used H.I.T. to train on a track enjoyed their workouts more than runners who jogged at the same pace for 50 minutes.

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Arlington Cycling Examiner Pam Willenz is an avid athlete who writes about health and science.

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