Hotel Gym Workouts: Cycling

BY IN Exercise Institute News On March 1, 2016

Workouts for time poor travellers who are used to riding high quality bikes and machinery.

I don’t know if there is anything much worse than having to use a low quality ergo trainer in a hotel to maintain fitness, when you are used to riding a high quality road bike or indoor ergo bike set up. Personally, I find the lower quality ergo bikes with limited bio-metric feedback (HR, Wattage, Cadence, etc) somewhat mind numbing to use, but have also found that when used correctly, they can be very beneficial in maintaining and even increasing fitness.

For the best outcomes on these basic ergo bikes, I like to replicate tenants of a classic 70’s research paper by Hickson, Bomze, & Holloszy  (1977), or the ‘Hickson Protocol’. This research demonstrated an increase in Vo2 max in low-moderately trained individuals (Vo2 max average 34ml/kg/min). Over 10 weeks they demonstrated a linear increase in Vo2 max with an overall improvement of 44% on average.

The basic pattern of interval was 5 mins exercising at Vo2 max (very hard exercise), with 2 mins at 50% of Vo2 max (active recovery) completed for 6 repetitions. This set was completed 3 times a week, inter-spaced with 30-40 mins of exercise at a pace that was as fast as the athlete could go on every other day. Replicating this exact protocol is difficult when living out of a suitcase however, it demonstrates that with minimal contact hours, gains can be made. The subjects in the study ended up with an average Vo2 max after 10 weeks of training over 60ml/kg/min!

I have replicated this interval set to good effect to maintain fitness gains when travelling. Completing variations of this exercise such as: 2 mins on, 1 min active recovery for 10 repetitions, or; 3 mins on 1.5 mins easy for 6 repetitions, means I can complete an interval set in around 30-40 mins and get a high quality workout wit the added bonus of not bleeding between the ears with boredom in doing so…..

Coupled with the above, I might also throw on several 30 second sprints (aerobic capacity efforts) with 2-3 mins light recovery between, to keep my fast twitch muscle fibres active…. Perhaps around 4-6 repetitions after the above intervals if I am up for it. It only adds on 10-20 mins of extra exercise for a really hard workout that keeps your metabolism going for hours after the exercise. Importantly some research has shown Vo2 max fitness can be maintained with only 2 sessions a week of high intensity exercise.

Long story short, make use of the hotel fitness room and please consider some of these options for your routine.

Hickson Protocol- 5 mins @ maximal sustainable intensity, 2 mins active recovery x 6
Alternate version- 2 mins on, 1 min easy x 10
Alternate version- 3 mins on, 1.5 mins easy x 6

Anaerobic capacity efforts – all out sprints, with 2-3 mins easy pace between x 6


The Keiser spin-bike, probably one of the best made spin bikes in the world that approximates wattage. It also has a high inertia fly wheel creating a real-life cycling experience


I’ve even managed to get through this set to good effect on a recumbent cycling bike.

By Brad Hall.


4 years ago / Comments Off on Hotel Gym Workouts: Cycling






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