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It's All in the Mix: Hybrid Training Programs for Indoor Cycling

Use hybrid training with weights and indoor cycles to get rapid fat loss.As I walked into my studio one morning, I overheard a few members discussing how little time they have left at the end of each day, between kids, work, spouses, etc, and how they are starting to run out of time to fit their workouts in each day.  It was at that point that one of the ladies in the group yelled over to me (as I pretended that I did not hear the first part of their conversation) and said, "If you were me, would you choose Indoor Cycling, Yoga or Strength Conditioning if you could only workout for an hour three to four times a week?" As I thought carefully and quickly to my response, the truth is you need to have a mix of all three types of training! This is really the key to successful health and training, not to mention the added benefits of loosing weight and strengthening the overall body.

It was from this one conversation that the design and implementation of what we have called the 'hybrid' workout had begun. This workout fuses together indoor cycling with a variety of other strength and flexibility exercises for a complete total body workout. The goal was simple; to create dynamic activity off of the bike that would utilize large muscle groups simultaneously while still maintaining heart rates between 65% - 85% off the bike and 75% - 92% on the bike. This mix of high intensity aerobic exercise paired with strength training would have the ability to burn off calories and fat more efficiently and in just an hour. Classes would still get in a great ride, but would now also reap the benefits of strength and flexibility training as well and maintain the high caloric burn that so many of them sought out Indoor Cycling for in the first place.

About two weeks later, the first 'Cycle & Lift' class was held. Members were excited to try something new and we were looking forward to this program meeting their time and fitness needs. During warm-up on the bike, students were informed of the class 'game plan' – ten minutes on the bike for a high intensity interval and five minutes off of the bike for a variety of strength training exercises. The goal was to complete a total of four rounds (Round 4 is shorter so there is time to cool down and stretch).

It was quickly realized that time on the bike was precious and students needed to maximize their efforts on the bike as intervals were to the point, for example, seven minutes of rolling hills, with 3 minutes of downhill. Although everyone was still encouraged to work at their own ability level, I had never seen such effort from so many students before, even the beginners! They had a passion for reaching and maintaining heart rates while on the bike as they knew that there was only a ten minute time frame to reach their goal. They became encouraging to one another, yelling out "I'm there! Come on everybody… let's go!" And most importantly, they were maximizing their time on the bike by reaching these heart rate levels, maintaining and then recovering from them as well. What they were gaining was mindfulness about what they were capable of doing.

The strength training exercises were slightly different from what clients were used to in their 'regular' workout classes. These movements were more overall body focused and also time sensitive. For example, Renegades were done for a total of two minutes, as many as you could do with good form (modifications were shown for clients who were new to fitness or with injury) and then a one minute static hold of a Plank. This was followed up by Sumo Squats with a one armed shoulder Military Press for two minutes, (one minute on each side). It was then time for water and getting back on the bike. 

At the end of the class, students were asked what they thought of this new workout… what they REALLY thought of the class. Most of them were exhausted and said it was great, some were excited and wanted to do it tomorrow again and one person did not like it at all, (can't please them all!). After a few modifications to class structure, equipment usage and timing, Cycle & Lift became one of the most popular classes the studio offered. Word had spread that you could get this great total body workout in just one hour and students were amazed at the results they were seeing in a one hour class; weight loss, decreased BMI and increased strength and flexibility.

While the workouts vary from class to class, clients all agree that it is the exact type of class that is doable and enjoyable. Classes are engaging and interactive and the workouts always vary from class to class each week and with each instructor, so students are constantly challenged. Although there are numerous other choices of workouts, this is one that is great for any studio or instructor to offer because at the end of the day, it’s all in the mix!

Sample Hybrid Indoor Cycling Workout

Round 1:

Bike Interval –

  • Warm-up (3 minutes)
  • Rolling Hills (7 minutes)

Strength Interval –

  • Renegades (2 minutes)
  • Plank Hold (1 minute)
  • Weighted Sumo Squats with One Arm Shoulder Press (1 minute per arm for a    total of 2 minutes)

Round 2:

Bike Interval –

  • Speed Circuit:  90 – 110 RPM in the Saddle for one minute, 80 – 100 RPM out of the saddle for one minute, 90 – 110 RPM out of the saddle for one minute, recovery at 70 – 80 RPM for one minute (8 minutes)
  • Team Speed Trial:  Breaking the class into two teams, one team does 90 – 110 RPM in or out of the saddle for 30 seconds; the other team recovers at 60 – 80 RPM of 30 seconds.  Each team has two intensity speed rounds (2 minutes)

Strength Interval –

  • Clock Lunges with a bicep curl (3 minutes)
  • Tricep Dips (1 minute)
  • Bicycles (1 minute)

Round 3:

Bike Interval –

  • Hill climb with a higher gear change each minute.  First 5 minutes in the saddle, last 5 minutes out of the saddle (10 minutes)

Strength Interval –

  • Wood choppers with a twist to engage the oblique.  2 sets of 15 on each side (4 minutes)
  • Arm Clocks:  side lateral raise to shoulders, rotation, fly arms up overhead until dumbbells touch, lower arms back to side lateral position, rotate, lower to sides.  20 sets (1 minute)

Round 4:

Bike Interval –

  • Jumps in and out of the saddle (3 minutes)
  • Walk, Jog, Run out of the saddle:  20 seconds of each (3 minutes)

Strength Interval –

  • Push ups in both regular hand width and wide hand width (1 minute of each)
  • In between the sets of push ups, roll over and complete 10 up and overs:  this is a movement where a medicine, resist or ballast ball is passed between the feet and the hands as they meet up high to pass and then lower back down towards the floor.  The goal is to stay as long as possible with no limbs bending.  (1 minute)

Stretch & Cool Down – 7 minutes

Author Information:

Susan Janson, Owner of Kick It Up Indoor Cycling Studio in Long Beach, CASusan Janson is the owner and head trainer of Kick It Up, a dance and indoor cycling studio in Long Beach, CA. Susan began dancing at age 4 and quickly fell in love with all forms of dance and dreamed of doing nothing else. Having graduated from the Imperial School of Dance at age 14, Susan performed with many professional groups, such as the Southern California Dance Theatre and Rhapsody in Taps. Since 2004,, she has enjoyed teaching the “little ones” all the way up to adults and loves being Miss Susan! Find out more.