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A 13-minute low-impact cycle and strength HIIT workout that torches calories

Barry's instructor Ianthe Mellors combines a quick cycling session with 5 minutes of upper-body strength training and a cool-down stretch for a full-body workout.
/ Source: TODAY

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If you're short on time and looking for a quick workout that mixes both cardio and strength training, look no further.

Cycling is a great cardio option because it’s low impact, putting less pressure on your joints, says Barry’s instructor Ianthe Mellors. By tacking on a few upper-body strength exercises, she adds, you've got an effective full-body workout that fits into any schedule.

Mellors teaches the new Ride x Lift program at Barry’s. During the 50-minute class, half of the time is spent doing low-impact cardio on the bike and the half doing strength training on the floor. The class isn’t offered at all locations (yet), so Mellors created this 13-minute routine for to give us a taste of the workout.

Use it as a standalone workout on days when you're pressed for time or to “warm you up and get you sweaty” before a longer workout, she says.

How to set up your spin bike

Before pressing play, take a few minutes to make sure your bike is set up properly.

  • Seat: Mellors says you want your seat to be as high as your hip. Stand next to the saddle, lift the leg that’s closest to the seat and make sure it’s in line with your hip. Once on the bike, you can make sure your seat is the correct height by pushing one pedal down to straighten the leg. At the bottom position the knee should be slightly bent, not locked out.
  • Handlebars: Choose the height that feels comfortable to you. If you have lower back issues or are pregnant, Mellors suggests having the handlebars higher to alleviate pressure on your lower back.

The seat and the handlebars should be forearm-distance apart. Place your elbow against the front of the seat and your finger tips should graze the back of the handlebars.

13-minute cycling and strength full-body workout for beginners

After warming the body up, you'll move in and out of the saddle and play with speed to get your heart rate up. Then it's time to hit the floor for some strength work before cooling down.

Can't exercise without some music? Mellors created this “Ride playlist” as the perfect companion to the workout, allowing you to cycle to the correct beats per minute.

Cycling workout

  • 0-1:00: Warm up in the saddle with hands at first position, RPM 65 (Low-moderate intensity)
  • 1:00-2:00: In the saddle, RPM 65 (moderate intensity)
  • 2:00-3:00: Out of the saddle with hands at third position, RPM 65 (moderate intensity)
  • 3:00-3:30: In the saddle for 30 seconds, RPM 85 (moderate intensity)
  • 3:30-4:00: Out of the saddle recovery for 30 second, RPM 65 (moderate intensity)
  • 4:00-4:30: Out of the saddle second recovery for 30 seconds, RPM 65 (moderate intensity)
  • 4:30-5:00: In the saddle for 30 seconds, RPM 85 (moderate intensity)
  • 5:00: 5:30: Out of the saddle recovery, RPM 65 (moderate intensity)
  • 5:30-6:00: Add resistance, RPM 50 (high intensity)
  • BONUS: 600-6:30: Max out the resistance, add all you can handle while maintaining RPM 50 (high intensity)

Upper-body strength training workout

  • 0-1:00: Bodyweight inchworms and world’s greatest stretch on both sides
  • 1:00-2:00: Bodyweight tricep pushups and 4 shoulder taps
  • 2:00-3:00: Upright row with medium dumbbells
  • 3:00-4:00: 3 quick bicep curls and 1 slow bicep curl perfomed with medium dumbells
  • 4:00-4:30: Alternate hammer curls performed with medium dumbbells
  • 4:30-5:00: Hammer curls with both arms to finish

Workout tips for beginners

Mellors shared some of her top tips for beginners, plus how to get the most out of the workout:

  • Modify on the bike if you need to. Stay in the saddle and/or slow down the pace if you need to. "It's more about the effort than it is about the RPM," she says, stressing "that you listen to your body and try and follow the pattern, but don't put pressure on yourself or judge yourself if that means you're going a little bit slower or using a little bit less resistance.” She also suggests that people with knee or back issues stay in the saddle the entire workout.
  • Drop to your knees. “When it comes to the pushups, you can always do it on your knees or an elevated surface,” she says. And if you’re pregnant and “working out for two, you can do them against a wall.”
  • Adjust the weight for your fitness level. For beginners or people who are new to lifting, she suggests starting with 3- or 5-pound dumbbells “and see how it feels.” If after doing the five-minute circuit, it feels great, she suggests going a little heavier the next time. Continue to increrase your weight as you progress and get stronger.
  • Up the RPMs. More experienced cyclers or people who want a harder push can up the RPMs. “You can do the same workout but instead of starting at 65 RPMs and going to 85 you could start at 80 RPMs and go to 100,” she says. “You can play with the same pattern, but just at different speeds.”
  • Something is better than nothing. The workout may be quick but Mellors says "it's better to do something rather than nothing." She says it all depends on your fitness goals, but believes HIIT training is the most effective and most efficient if you're trying to improve your cardio endurance, rev your metabolism, and get an endorphin boost.