30 minute spin workout: Our quick & easy exercise bike blitz

Put yourself through this 30 minute spin workout and feel the burn, whether at the gym or at home

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re short on time but need to fit a workout in, this 30 minute spin workout could just do the trick. Exercising on one of the best exercise bikes is great for a number of reasons: Darren Placid, a Level 4 Personal trainer and group fitness instructor, explains that spinning is perfect if you’re recovering from an injury as it’s low impact and has less of an impact on joints. 

‘Plus, as the bike is stationary, there is no risk of you falling off or colliding with anyone else,' he adds. 'This also means you can concentrate on you and only you.’

He adds that spinning also puts your cardiovascular system to the test as it raises your heart rate.

‘Working on your cardiovascular system in turn lessens your chances of developing coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular health problems. What’s more, a spin workout really works your lower body as well as boosting core stability.’

Oh, and let’s not forget the mind benefits of a good spin session. 

‘It’s been scientifically proven that exercise can help to reduce stress,' said Placid. 'Exercise focuses your mind allowing you to clear your head and temporarily forget whatever may be bothering you. Exercising can help you feel good about yourself too, which is something we can all benefit from!’

Ready to get cycling? Darren has devised a 30 minute spin workout which you can do on your own exercise bike, or an exercise bike at the gym. Grab some water (perhaps out of our best water bottle for the gym guide entries), a sweat towel, and let’s go!

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your 30 minute spin workout

For this workout, Darren explains that the resistance is based on 1 to 10. Resistance 1 is low and resistance 10 is really heavy. 

RPM, or stroke revolutions per minute, is the number of times the pedal does a full turn every minute. So, an RPM of 60 would mean the pedal turns 60 times each minute. Don't worry, you don't have to count: your exercise bike should display RPM.

Before you start, get a feel for different resistances by cranking the resistance up to full (10) and then slowly reducing it back down to no resistance (1). The higher resistances mimic steeper hill climbs.

WARM UP (4 minutes) 

RPM 86-87. Resistance 3 -4

‘For the warm up, it’s all about raising your heart rate and getting those legs going. Keep the resistance nice and low, relax the shoulders and try to keep your back nice and flat,’ explains Darren.

‘During the warm up, you will have 3 speed surges. Increase the speed to an RPM of 100, hold for 20 seconds then drop it back down. Give yourself around 70 seconds before doing the next speed surge.’

You can increase the resistance if you wish, but only by a little so the legs get used to an extra bit of pressure.

HILL CLIMB (6 minutes) 

RPM 67. Starting resistance 5-6

‘Now your legs are nice and warm, it’s time to put yourself to the test. A nice steady climb is a great body toner and a good fat burner,’ says Darren. This section ensures you stay at a medium speed, but every 90 seconds, you raise the resistance by 1 to simulate cycling up a steep hill.

‘Slow your legs down to 67 RPM and place your resistance at 5-6;  this will be your platform resistance as it will increase throughout this climb. Cycle here for 90 seconds.

‘Next, take a stand on your bike and increase the resistance by 1 so you’re on about 6-7. You will be standing and pedalling for 45 seconds at 67 RPM. Make sure those shoulders are relaxed, back nice and straight and your core is fully engaged.

‘After 45 seconds, sit back down and keep the legs rolling at 67 RPM, but don’t touch the resistance!

‘After 45 seconds we go again. Take that stand and increase the resistance level by 1 so you should be around the 7-8 mark. Then sit back down, maintaining the RPM at 67. After 45 seconds, stand again, adding 1 to the resistance so you’re sat at 8-9. Go for 45 seconds, then sit back down for 45 seconds.'

Struggling? Start this climb with the resistance lower than 5-6 and work your way up from there instead.

STANDING ATTACK (5 minutes)

RPM 75. Resistance 6-7

Next, the resistance is going back down (thankfully) and your legs are going to speed up. 

‘Find 75 RPM, hold it for 30 seconds, and then stand at the same speed for 45 seconds. In total you will do this 4 times,’ says Darren. 

He adds that when you stand on your bike, make sure you have your hands placed right at the top of the handlebar, maintaining a flat back and engaging your core and glutes. Try not to lean too far forward over the handlebars.

POWER (5 minutes)

RPM 80. Resistance 5-6

‘So the standing is out of the way for a bit, now it’s time for some power. You’ll be staying seated for this one. Give yourself a minute and a half to find an RPM of 80 and place your resistance at the required platform.

‘After your minute, increase your resistance by 3-4 and cycle there for 30 seconds. Then  drop it back down to resistance 5-6 for 40 seconds. Do this three times.’

Remember, it's only 3 rounds so really go all out on those power surges.

CADENCE (5 minutes)

RPM 100-120. Resistance 5-6

‘The Hills and the power are on the shelf for a second; now it's time to test your speed,’ says Darren.

‘Keep cycling at an RPM of 70 for one minute. After one minute, pick up the pace and hit 100-120 on your RPM. Hold this for 30 seconds then drop back down for 60 seconds. Repeat this 4 times.’

Repeat this 4 times.

Finding it too easy? 

‘If your RPM is between 100 - 120  and it feels comfortable, then make it that little bit more uncomfortable and increase your resistance slightly to put those legs to the test,’ says Darren.

TABATA FINISHER (5 minutes)

‘This is the last hurdle before we cool down. It’s 8 rounds of work; 20 seconds on, with a 10 second recovery in between rounds. 

‘You’ll start at a recovery speed between 70-80 RPM for the first 45 seconds. Keep your resistance at 6-7. Once the 45 seconds is up, increase your speed to between 100-110 RPM for 20 seconds and then recover for 10. Repeat 8 times.

COOL DOWN ( 2-5 minutes)

Darren recommends taking the resistance off and cycling steadily. Then, hop off your bike and stretch.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

30-minute spin workout tips

Make your spin workout even more efficient with these handy pointers.

Stay hydrated

Make sure you have a bottle of water to hand to sip throughout your workout. A study has actually shown how dehydration can negatively impact exercise performance. Not sure of your hydration status? The colour of your wee is the best indication - if it's pale yellow, you're probably drinking enough. If it's straw coloured, you'll likely need to increase your fluid intake.

Cool down properly

Not sure what lower body stretches are best? Give the below a go after your spin workout to loosen off and help your body recover.

‘When you hold your stretches make sure you hold them for a minimum of 20 seconds,’ advises Darren. our guide to beginner's stretching exercises, or the video below, is a good place to start. 

Get the right kit

There are a number of exercise bikes available. For your home workouts, look for a bike that offers a good level of resistance. The higher the resistance goes on a bike, the harder you will have to work, so it offers a greater challenge.

If you opt for a magnetic resistance, this slows down the flywheel through the power of magnetism. Typically, the max resistance on these is lower than exercise bikes that come with a resistance knob which is more friction based.

You may also want to consider using a smart mount for your standard push bike, which essentially turns it into a stationary bike. You can also pick up speedometers or sensors which attach to the bike's handlebars and measure elements such as RPM, speed and time.

Enjoy rest days

If you want to continue to exercise, and give each workout everything you’ve got, then factoring in rest days is crucial. When you rest, your body can recover and repair, allowing it to come back stronger than before.

Not a fan of rest days? You don’t have to sit still and do nothing. Enjoy gentle walks, swims and even yoga.

Lucy Gornall
Lucy Gornall

Lucy is Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, and also Editor of Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food, and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.