4 Great Time-Saving Workouts
No time to ride? No problem! You can do these high intensity workouts in just 30 minutes. – By AC Shilton
We’ve all been there: A meeting runs long, a kid needs extra attention, or you got sucked into a Facebook vortex—suddenly, your workout time window has shattered.
In that moment, it can be tempting to just call it off. After all, what good is 30 minutes of riding going to do if you originally planned for two hours?
Don’t give up! Sitting through your workout is just a trap; It may seem like a good choice in the moment, but afterwards you’ll feel icky, sad, and wish you’d been a little bit more disciplined.
“Something is better than nothing,” says Alison Powers, a former U.S. National Champion road racer and coach. “It’s going to make your head feel better and it’s good for your body too.”
The thing is, though, that even though you don’t have much time, you can still make every minute count. Here are some great options for what to do.
We know, we know, you’d probably much rather be riding. But running’s a great choice for when your workout time is tight.
“If you really want to get in a good workout in 30 minutes, I often suggest my clients run,” says Nadia Sullivan, a cycling coach with FasCat Coaching in Boulder, Colorado. The good thing about running is it eliminates the slightly longer kitting up and tyre-pumping process, giving you a few more minutes to sweat it out. Your threshold heart rate is also slightly higher when you run, so you can work at a harder pace and reap an even greater aerobic benefit.
If plain old running is too miserable for you to bear, Sullivan suggests you find a set of stairs and run up them. But, she adds, maybe take the elevator back down; “save your knees,” she warns.
Sullivan likes this workout because there’s literally no downtime. After a short warmup, you’ll dig right in on 20 minutes of work in your “sweet spot.” “That’s about 90 per cent of your lactate threshold pace,” says Sullivan. If you don’t know your threshold pace, find an effort where you can talk, but just barely. Sullivan adds that she likes having her athletes train at this effort level because it forces them to work, but not so hard that they have to take the rest of the week off.
First: Start with 30 jumping jacks before you even get on your bike. This elevates your heart rate quickly, accelerating your warmup.
Next: Get on and start pedaling, taking another 5-7 minutes to really get the blood going.
Finally: Begin your sweet spot work. If you don’t know your lactate threshold, “aim for a pace where you can talk but just barely. It shouldn’t be so hard that you feel like you’re about to toss your cookies,” warns Sullivan. And do not go out too fast. This is a single, sustained effort—you need to stay alive well beyond the first five minutes.
Powers uses this workout to help her athletes develop strength, power, and aerobic quickness. “A lot of people strength train, which is good, don’t get me wrong, but strong doesn’t necessarily equal powerful and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re strong and powerful on the bike,” she says. Plyos—which are short jumping movements—help bridge that gap, building explosive power that is ready to fire at a moment’s notice. For this workout, you’ll need a trainer, a sturdy box and tennis shoes.
Start here: Warm up for 10-12 minutes. Powers suggests doing the first few minutes easy, then adding more intensity each minute after that.
Then do this: Hop off your bike, switch into sneakers as fast as you can, and begin doing 10 each of the following three plyometrics: Box jumps, single leg explosive step ups and squat jumps. Do these for time, meaning you want to finish all three rounds as quickly as possible.
Next up: Start sprinting! Crank up your gears and try and hit a huge number of watts in 10 to 15 seconds. Take a minute to rest, then repeat, this time trying to hit an even higher wattage number. Do two sets of three reps, with two minutes of recovery in between.
Finally: Repeat the plyos and the sprint sets one more time. “You’ll be cooked,” Powers promises.
“If you don’t have a lot of time, high intensity is key. Get ready to spend time in your pain cave,” Powers warns. She likes this workout because the intervals are short, so you can work at the very edges of your abilities. Plus, the stingy rest intervals keep you from wasting any time.
Start here: Do 8 to 10 minutes of warmup, starting to push the intensity at each minute after the eight-minute mark.
Next: Move into a series of one-minute intervals where you’re working at a very challenging pace. You should not really be able to talk during these efforts. Recover during 1 minute periods of rest, working to bring your breath and heart rate back to normal in the short amount of time.
Repeat: Until you’re out of time or feel like you might keel over. Whichever comes first.