Best indoor cycling workouts for runners

The indoor cycle is a powerful machine for the injured runner, the winter season, and anyone aiming for some cross-training year-round. It can be great for an easy day on tired legs, but simultaneously stellar for getting in an easy workout when your options for intense workouts are reduced. I’ve personally spent the past six weeks now agonizing over plantar fasciitis, and my one saving grace has been the hard workouts I can conduct on the cycle without any pain. With that, here are some of my favourite indoor cycling workouts.


Select a distance comfortable for you, and gradually increase the pace with each interval. This might include…

  • 1km’s, 2km’s, 3km’s
  • 3min, 5min, 10min

If you measure by kilometres, you’ll be assessing your pace increase via time, and vice versa if you measure by time. This is a great workout to keep both your body and mind engaged, as you’ll constantly be doing mental math to ensure you beat your previous time.

Your rest period between each interval should be about a third to half of your total interval time/distance.

Just make sure you don’t purposefully slow down to significant amounts or take it too easy from the hop! This is still supposed to be a hard workout. But also make sure to warm-up properly before the workout, such as for 10-20 minutes with some surges intermixed to get the body rolling.

Beat Rhys – Faster Every Time (8x2k)

  1. 6:12
  2. 5:57
  3. 5:52
  4. 5:47
  5. 5:46
  6. 5:45
  7. 5:39
  8. 5:19

You can see how I really gave it my all on that last one, even while stalling my progress a bit in the middle on tired legs. I increased by almost a minute from when I first started the workout to the very end. But if you don’t beat your time, take it as a learning process and consider what went wrong. Did you lose focus? Did you go slower at the start? Identifying this can help you to refocus your energies and do better on the next one. Just don’t beat yourself up and call it quits.


Often times it’s nice to save longer distances for the start of the workout, and focus on maintaining speed on those tired muscles toward the end. This is why a descending ladder can be an awesome choice, as it actively replicates how you might even run on race day. This might include workouts like…

  • 10k, 5k, 2.5k hard
  • 8k, 4k, 2k hard
  • 10 minute, 5 minute, 2.5 minute

Beat Rhys – Descending Ladder (10k, 5k, 2.5k hard)

  1. 10k – 29:36
  2. 5k – 14:04
  3. 2.5k – 6:41

While these times look fast to runners, it’s important to remember that you can hit a faster time on the cycle without fail. I would probably retire if I ever ran a 14 minute 5k.


This one is an easy one to do alongside a bout of music, as a typical song lasts about 3 minutes long. I like to do about 10-12 of these 3-minute repeats at 80-90% of my capacity, rolling through this musical workout.

You can do however many of these repeats you want, but the goal is to maintain a consistent pace, or to even get faster toward the end. When you start to feel tremendous tiredness in the legs, that’s usually a good sign that you’re ready to be done.

There are also two different ways that you can do this. You can lump 3 songs together and do a 3x3min x __ workout, or rest after every 3-minute thrust.

Beat Rhys – 3 min x 12 in 12.65 kilometres total.

Before we go, what are your favourite cycling workouts? Share your thoughts below and be sure to follow on social media @backtobackruns! Thanks for reading and see you soon.

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Strava Profile | Rhys Desmond


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2 responses to “Best indoor cycling workouts for runners”

  1. […] now having gone through this process, I’ve developed some new favourite cycling workouts, have developed an awareness for the value of treadmill uphill walks, hikes in the outdoors, and […]


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