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Schedules get hectic this time of year, whether you’re spending more time at holiday parties, prepping for family gatherings, or trying to meet a last-minute deadline. It always seems like there’s just not enough time to accomplish everything you need to do before the end of the year. So fitting in an hour-long workout? Nearly impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in some form of movement between all those obligations.
Enter: movement “snacks” or short bouts of exercise that last, say, 10 minutes each—and a 14-day workout challenge that will get you in the mindset of moving consistently, even if not for long.
Research backs up the benefits of short bursts of activity, particularly when it comes to breaking up your time spent sedentary. One study found that just five minutes of exercise can lead to better blood flow to the brain, helping improve your focus, while other research found that batches of moderate-intensity activity (even just two minutes of bodyweight squats) can support muscle building. The World Health Organization’s 2020 update on activity guidelines even mention that activity breaks of 10 minutes or less can provide protection against early death. And finally, recent research from the University of Sydney suggests that a quick one-minute blast of vigorous-intensity movement can help you ward off all-cause, cancer-related, and cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
More From Bicycling
With that in mind, we designed this 14-day workout challenge to help you maintain your fitness and get those movement snacks in each day during the holidays. Read on to find out exactly how each workout can benefit you, your riding, and your health—plus, how to adjust them so that you only need to set aside approximately 10 minutes.
Day 1: 10-Minute Full-Body Workout
This workout provides complex (fun!) exercises that work more than one muscle at a time, so you build total-body strength in a short amount of time. Even better: It doesn’t require any equipment so you can essentially practice it anytime and anywhere, even while on vacation.
Day 2: Cadence Drill
Practicing cadence drills is a great way for cyclists to improve their pedaling efficiency, while also kicking up their physical activity levels. More specifically, practicing these drills will help improve neuromuscular control and muscular endurance. So, grab your bike, trainer, and bike computer, and practice one of the drills in the article—the first takes 11 minutes and the second, 12 minutes.
Day 3: Practice Yoga
Research shows that yoga can help you deal with work-related stress, among other causes of tension. So, not only can a regular practice support a healthy mental state, but it can also help you stretch out tight spots, improve mobility, and simply make you feel better. Today, take ten minutes to practice five sequences of sun salutations, moving with your breath. Or, choose your favorite poses in the article and create your own flow.
Day 4: Squat Challenge
Build strong legs that will help you power your rides with 10 minutes (or less) of squats. As mentioned above, even just two minutes of this total-body move, which emphasizes the quads and glutes, can help support muscle building. Listed in this workout are five different squat variations that build strength in your calves, glutes, adductors, and hamstrings. Go for one to two rounds to get your workout fix for the day.
Day 5: Ab Workout with a Towel
A savvy and seriously killer way to build core strength: grab a towel. Practicing this quick ab workout with a towel turns up the challenge on your stability so you can ride with efficiency and power—and it’ll get you working up a little sweat today.
Day 6: Bodyweight Arms
Some of us neglect to train our arms even when we’re not busy. This is a simple and quick bodyweight workout that focuses on building upper-body strength, so that you can maintain long rides without fatiguing and improve your posture on and off the bike. Aim for at least one round of the five exercises—more if you have time.
Day 7: Preride Mobility Workout
Start your day with this total-body mobility workout, as practicing these exercises can improve blood flow and prepare your muscles for any other activities you may have planned throughout the day. It also just makes your muscles feel good.
Day 8: Mini-Band Total-Body Workout
Mini, looped resistance bands are a must-have workout accessory. They’re portable, affordable, and extremely convenient, especially when you’re trying to get the most out of a quick workout. This routine uses those bands to work your entire body. Aim for at least one round of each exercise.
Day 9: Tabata on Your Bike
While we suggest you utilize all four of these cycling workouts on different days to help you maintain fitness during the off-season, the Tabata workout listed here is arguably the most effective and time efficient one, as research shows it helps improve speed and VO2 max. Start off with five minutes of easy spinning, then complete one full Tabata—that’s 20 seconds of all-out effort, 10 seconds of rest, repeated for eight total rounds (or four total minutes).
Day 10: Plank It Out
Planks should have a spot in every cyclist’s workout routine. They help build core stability for better bike handling and efficiency, and can help you maintain strong posture. Thankfully, these plank variations help you turn up the challenge on an already effective exercise and they keep your mind engaged. Go for one round of the eight moves.
Day 11: Morning Stretches
Stretching in the morning before you start your day is a great way to tell your body thank you in advance. Morning stretches are helpful because these exercises will help improve your range of motion and flexibility. Also, it can help you identify and relieve tight areas. You have just three moves to conquer, so go for as many rounds as you can.
Day 12: Master the Lunge
Build stronger quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and better your balance, with this traditional, functional exercise. Learn how to do it properly first, then create a workout with it, performing the lunge for 30 seconds, resting for 15 seconds, and repeating for six rounds. To switch it up, sub in the other four variations or add them to the end of your workout.
Day 13: 10-Minute Ab Blast
We’re all about helping you improve your core strength—and your midsection gets a serious burn in just 10 minutes with this routine. Follow these exercises whenever you can squeeze it in today, knowing each move is designed specifically for cyclists.
Day 14: Push and Swing HIIT Workout
Ending this challenge with a bang! High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) workouts are great for building strength and improving endurance, particularly for those in a time crunch. You’ll get five different HIIT workouts here, which you can practice on and off your bike, but for the sake of this challenge, focus your efforts on completing the first workout listed. It includes a kettlebell swing and a push-up.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.
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