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The 30-Minute Cardio Workout

Ride Workouts
There are few things that we enjoy more than a leisurely Sunday bicycle ride for a few hours on a beautiful spring day. Joe, who has taken the leisurely approach to a logical extreme, has ridden his bicycle from California to New York simply because it seemed like a good way to spend some of the summer. While Jonathan likes to tackle one state at a time, he, too, has spent countless hours in the saddle.

When you have the single-minded focus of a cross-country ride or want to become a strong competitive rider, logging big hours on your bike is the only way to travel. In fact, many of the guys that Jonathan races with don't feel it's worth slipping on Lycra shorts unless they're going to hit the pavement for an hour or more. Though we agree that you need to punch the clock hard and often if you want to ride with the big boys and girls, we're convinced that you can get a great ride in far less time as long as you have a focused workout.

For an indoor ride, we're partial to the Hill Profile program on the LifeCycle because it is a preprogrammed interval workout with a warm-up and cooldown. If you don't have access to a LifeCycle, fret not; there are plenty of other ways to make the most of your half-hour.

Stand and Deliver
Here's a revolutionary idea for all of you who complain that bicycle seats are uncomfortable: don't use it!Okay, we're not really advocating that you stand through an entire workout, but throwing in a few high-intensity intervals can really help you get the most out of a short workout. After five minutes of easy cycling at a high cadence (80 to 100 revolutions per minute) and low resistance, start to crank up the resistance. Try to get your heart rate to about 70 percent of your max. It should be challenging, but not hard. Then, once every five minutes spend one minute pedaling out of the saddle with the resistance cranked up.

Imagine yourself grinding up a steep hill, keeping your cadence in the 50 to 60 revolutions-per-minute (rpm) range. Try to work hard enough to elevate your heart rate to around 85 percent of your max – or enough that your quadriceps are calling you nasty names. Repeat this five-minute sequence four times and finish things off with another five-minute spin. As you become fitter and your legs become acclimated to the workout, you can add the standing climbs more often. Progress from one every five minutes to one every four. Eventually try to alternate one minute standing and one minute seated. It's a great way work out your quads and cardiovascular system. We assure you that as your legs are quivering and you're sweating up a storm, you'll no longer have any concerns over whether a 30-minute workout is enough.

Turn on the Spin Cycle
Sit with a group of racing cyclists like Jonathan for more than five minutes and you're bound to hear them refer to their "spin." In cyclist's lingo, spinning is pedaling at a smooth, high cadence. Elite road and track cyclists often train at mind-boggling cadences in excess of 200 rpm – a pace that resembles chaotic eggbeaters. (Contrast that with the typical cadence of 50 to 60 rpm for casual commuters or 60 to 80 rpm for most exercisers in the gym.) While such astronomical spinning speeds are not necessary for regular fitness types, picking up the cadence is a great way to rev up your workout.

Rather than increasing the resistance and grinding at a low pedal cadence, try adding some spice to your workout with a faster spin for 20- to 30-second intervals.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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