Bike Towards a Stronger, Fitter You

This 6-week cycling plan will increase your activity and your cardiovascular fitness.
Published May 11, 2018

There is something magical about a bike. Maybe it’s the connection to childhood, or cutting through the wind, or simply getting from point A to B to C without turning a key and pushing a gas pedal. You can do it solo and find your cycling sweet spot. You can ride in groups during lunch hour or during all-morning Sunday odysseys. Simply put, riding a bike is personalized joy. It’s also becoming a lot easier and safer.

Besides getting tanned legs of steel, using two wheels instead of four could ease your stress levels and help you concentrate more at work, according to a study in Preventive Medicine. Looking at 18 years of data on 18- to 65-year-old commuters in Britain, researchers also found those who biked to work felt less of the social isolation and boredom that comes with driving. Plus, you can’t eat while you’re pedaling, and good luck being served at a drive-thru. Finally, like the infomercials say, if you act now and jump on a bike we’ll throw in an amazing bonus: the ability to torch about 700 calories per hour (when riding at 14-16 mph). Now that you’re out of excuses, here’s all you need to know to hit the road.

 Your 6-Week Biking Plan

Get comfortable on the bike while shedding weight and establishing a baseline of cycling fitness with the following 6-week plan designed by Selene Yeager, coauthor of Bike Your Butt Off! (Rodale) and USA Cycling certified coach. Beginners should complete each workout two or three times per week. If you want to amp up the challenge, extend the duration of these rides, or use them in addition to other workouts throughout the week.

NOTE: Higher gears are harder gears; lower gears are easier gears.


Increase Intensity (comfortably hard effort)

Push (so you’re breathing a little hard)

Cruise (easy-to-brisk pace)


WEEK 1: Turn it on

5 min 1-3 min 2 min 2 more times

WEEK 2: Spin it up

5 min

Shift into a higher gear for 1-2 min, shift to an easy gear and pedal for 1 min

2 min

2 more times

WEEK 3: Speed play

15 min

10 min (every min sprint for 10 sec)

10-15 min  

WEEK 4: Ups and downs

5 min

10 min (every min shift into a higher gear, stand and pedal out of the seat for 10-20 sec)

10-15 min  

WEEK 5: Ride the line Additional warm-up: 10 min

10 min

10 min (pick up the pace so you’re breathing steady and hard the entire time)

10-15 min  

WEEK 6: Crazy 8s Additional warm-up: 5 min

4 min

3 min (and as hard as you can go for 1 min)

10-15 min

Repeat all but warm-up