Looking for a way to refresh your cardio routine? It might be time to hop in the saddle.

Cycling indoors with a HIIT program can be a much-needed change from the endless plodding of most cardio machines. It will get your heart rate up, burn calories, and, because it’s low-impact, help keep your joints supple and strong without the constant treadmill pounding.

“Cycling is considered low-impact because your foot is in constant contact with the pedal, meaning you don’t get the impact of pounding against the pavement like in running,” says Simon Lawson, an instructor at team-inspired indoor cycling center Swerve Fitness in New York (swervefitness.com). “Many physical therapists prescribe cycling to their patients to help with recovery from various ligament and tendon injuries.”

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Lawson recommends doing HIIT on the bike for the average lifter who’s turning to indoor cycling.

“Most guys aren’t training to ride 40 miles outdoors,” he says, “so you don’t need long, endurance-based training sessions.” Plus, if you start taking spin classes, HIIT will prep your legs for when your instructor decides to throw three back-to-back sprint challenges at you.

You’ll also torch some of those extra holiday calories, but you’ve got to earn the burn. Guys can typically expect to expend 275 to 400 calories during a 30-minute cycling session, but it all depends on a bunch of variables including your weight, height, metabolism, and level of intensity.

“At almost 5’10” and 170 pounds,” says Lawson, “I typically burn between 650 and 750 calories per 45-minute Swerve class.”

Pro Tip: Unless you’re training for an endurance race, perform intervals on the bike. You’ll burn more fat during the workout and continue to burn fat post-workout.

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Pedal Better

Use these tips from Jens Voigt—a German former pro cyclist who rode in a record-tying 17 Tour de France races—to make your bike adventures better, indoor or out.

1. For someone who wants to start cycling, what’s your advice?

First, know your goal. Dropping two pounds doesn’t require an expensive bike or the top equipment. Just go out and do it. Second, don’t try for 100 miles right away. You’ll hate it and never want to bike again.

2. What should I know about setting up my bike or indoor cycle?

Ask a local bike shop worker about positioning on the bike and the pedal system. Also, you sit for a long time, so you want a comfortable seat. And make sure your shoes are comfortable to avoid blisters.

3. When prepping for the Tour de France, what did your training look like?

To prepare, we would train about 600 miles per week on the bike. We would do three weeks of intense training, then have an easier week. This gave our body time to absorb the workload and transform all the work into more power.—Shawn Donnelly

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