The Best HIIT Exercise Bike Workout You Can Do to Burn Calories, + Tips From a Trainer

Sick of cardio? Yeah, us too. No shade to anyone who enjoys a half marathon on the treadmill or stationary bike, of course, but some folks simply don’t have that sort of time to dedicate to their cardio endurance workouts on a regular basis. 

We don’t think you should have to choose between “brief” and “effective” when it comes to conditioning workouts — that’s exactly where HIIT comes in. If you’ve been on the prowl for a HIIT exercise bike workout (or two) to help you burn calories and break a sweat, look no further. These are some of our favorite HIIT bike workouts that you can do in 20 minutes or less. 

About the Expert

Jake Dickson serves as BarBend’s Senior Writer for editorial training and nutrition content. Dickson holds a Certified Personal Trainer accreditation from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), as well as a B.S. degree in Exercise Science. 

What Is HIIT?

HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training”; it’s a style of cardio workout that focuses on brief, vigorous bursts of activity (that’s the high-intensity bit) paired with longer durations of low-intensity movement to help you recover (those are the intervals). 

[Read More: The Benefits of Cardio — Better Sleep, Mental Health, Bone Health & More]

HIIT is basically the opposite of LISS on the cardio exercise spectrum. LISS, or low-intensity, steady-state cardio is stagnant in duration and tempo, while HIIT workouts are shorter and more demanding. 

Benefits of HIIT

Make no mistake, HIIT is still cardio. But unlike other forms of cardio, HIIT appears to provide benefits to more than just your heart. According to WebMD, (1) HIIT has the potential to: 

Help you build muscle.

Boost your metabolism.

Burn calories for hours after your workout finishes. 

The Science of HIIT

These benefits appear to be rooted in real science, though findings are conflicting. Studies do show that HIIT can help you continue to burn calories after your workout ends through a mechanism known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. (2)

[Read More: Everything You Need to Know About LISS Cardio and Why You Should Do It]

However, it’s unclear if HIIT workouts on exercise bikes (or anywhere else) meaningfully affect your metabolism. One paper observed no change in metabolism 24 hours after a HIIT workout, (3), but other data argue that you can boost your metabolism after several weeks of HIIT. (4)

[Read More: The Best Air Bikes for Your Home Gym]

Now, to the claim that HIIT can build muscle. In short, yes, it can, but there are major caveats. Studies have observed muscle hypertrophy in folks who do HIIT workouts, (5) but these effects are hard to replicate in trained populations. 

In plain English, if you’re new to working out altogether or are obese, HIIT might help you build muscle. If you’re a gym rat with strength training experience, don’t get your hopes up. 

Best HIIT Exercise Bike Workouts

HIIT is quick and dirty, and so are these workouts. All you’ll need is a stationary bike (air or assault bikes will work too), half an hour of time at most, and a large gym towel to mop up the sweat. 

[Read More: HIIT Vs. LISS — Which Type of Cardio Is Better?]

How many calories will you burn from these workouts? It depends on your age, weight, effort, and many other factors. However, one study on bodyweight HIIT showed that 20 minutes of exercise burned about 250 calories; you can expect a similar return on investment from your exercise bike workout. (6)

Workout 1 

You can perform this simple workout on an upright or recumbent stationary bike, or on a flywheel or air bike as well. This HIIT bike workout requires you to alternate between “Zone 2” cardio (60-69% of your max heart rate) and Zone 4 (80-89%).

Alternate between phases for 15 minutes total. 

Workout 2

This workout involves monitoring your own RPE — that’s Rate of Perceived Exertion, a subjective measurement of your own effort. The best part of RPE-based conditioning workouts is that you aren’t held to a specific benchmark of performance. It’s relative. 

[Read More: How Body Conditioning Can Burn Fat and Boost Your Work Capacity]

RPE is measured on a scale from 1 to 10; for exercise bike conditioning workouts, consider a “1” to be low-effort leisure, and “10” to be as hard as you can possibly pedal for a few seconds at a time.

This workout should take a little over 10 minutes to complete. 

Workout 3 

This conditioning workout is intended for folks who have a bit of HIIT experience under their belt and want something challenging. It still uses RPE, but involves three different phases of effort.

Completing all three Phases should take you between 7 and 8 minutes. Repeat up to three times for a 20-ish minute HIIT session. 

HIIT Workout Tips

Conditioning workout routines on the exercise bike may be straightforward, but adding HIIT into the mix definitely spices things up. If you’re not used to doing HIIT — or if you need a refresher — make sure you’re keeping these tips in mind. 

Start Slowly

HIIT cardio workouts may be brief, but they’re no walk (or bike, in this case) in the park. In fact, they’re much more demanding on your body than longer, lower-intensity workouts tend to be. 

[Read More: The Best Recumbent Bikes for Small Spaces, Streaming, Seniors, and More]

If you typically perform three or four “regular” cardio training sessions each week, don’t expect to match that schedule with HIIT. You may be asking too much of your body too quickly. Start with one HIIT workout per week and monitor how you respond to it, then consider adding another session down the line. 

Rest Appropriately

There’s a pretty strong relationship between effort and efficacy when it comes to exercise. The harder you work, the better your results will generally be. This is part and parcel for HIIT, too, but it also means you must prioritize your recovery as well.

Avoid performing HIIT workouts back-to-back. You should have at least 24 hours of rest between cardio workouts on the exercise bike, if that’s your preferred modality. 

Fuel (and Refuel)

Workouts and nutrition go hand-in-hand. After all, the world’s fastest supercar can’t back out of a driveway unless there’s gas in the tank. The same holds true if you enjoy doing HIIT workouts to burn fat or calories.

[Read More: The Best Fat Burner Supplements, Reviewed by Our RD]

You may have heard that fasted HIIT workouts burn more fat than those performed in a fed state. Research is conflicting there — some studies have observed no difference in fat loss when doing cardio fasted or fed. (7)

However, a 2022 meta analysis on the topic did note that fasted HIIT produced greater changes in fat loss on average. (8) This isn’t conclusive, but it does mean there’s some merit to the idea. If you choose to hop on the exercise bike with nothing in your belly, make sure to fuel up with a sports drink or post-workout supplement shortly after. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do a HIIT workout on a stationary bike?

Absolutely! HIIT stationary bike workouts are effective and accessible since almost all gyms will have several stations available. 

What is the best HIIT cycling routine?

A good HIIT cycling workout routine involves short bursts of high-intensity pedaling coupled with slower periods of recovery riding. 

Are 20-minute HIIT workouts effective?

Yes! The main selling point of HIIT is that it’s a time-efficient means of getting a great workout in. 20 minutes is plenty of time to perform a HIIT cycling workout. 

What is considered high intensity on a stationary bike?

Generally speaking, beginner cyclists or those performing low-intensity bike workouts perform between 60 and 80 revolutions per minute, or RPM. Once you’re exceeding 100 RPM, you’re pushing into higher intensities or veering towards sprint cycling. 


Robinson, K. M. (2014, July 22). HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). WebMD.

Schleppenbach, L. N., Ezer, A. B., Gronemus, S. A., Widenski, K. R., Braun, S. I., & Janot, J. M. (2017). Speed- and Circuit-Based High-Intensity Interval Training on Recovery Oxygen Consumption. International journal of exercise science, 10(7), 942–953.

Schleppenbach, L. N., Ezer, A. B., Gronemus, S. A., Widenski, K. R., Braun, S. I., & Janot, J. M. (2017). Speed- and Circuit-Based High-Intensity Interval Training on Recovery Oxygen Consumption. International journal of exercise science, 10(7), 942–953.

Schleppenbach, L. N., Ezer, A. B., Gronemus, S. A., Widenski, K. R., Braun, S. I., & Janot, J. M. (2017). Speed- and Circuit-Based High-Intensity Interval Training on Recovery Oxygen Consumption. International journal of exercise science, 10(7), 942–953.

Blue, M. N. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Trexler, E. T., & Hirsch, K. R. (2018). The effects of high intensity interval training on muscle size and quality in overweight and obese adults. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 21(2), 207–212.

Machado, A. F., Reis, V. M., Rica, R. L., Baker, J. S., Figueira Junior, A. J., & Bocalini, D. S.. (2020). Energy expenditure and intensity of HIIT bodywork® session. Motriz: Revista De Educação Física, 26(4), e10200083. DOI:10.1590/S1980-6574202000040083

Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., Wilborn, C. D., Krieger, J. W., & Sonmez, G. T. (2014). Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 54.

Guo, Z., Cai, J., Wu, Z., & Gong, W. (2022). Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Combined with Fasting in the Treatment of Overweight and Obese Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(8), 4638.

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