You want to ride fast and you want to ride long. To accomplish both goals, you need some power endurance, says Kelvin Gary, NASM-certified personal trainer, kettlebell coach, and owner of Body Space Fitness in New York City. Power endurance is all about being able to maintain your power output—the force that drives your speed—for longer distances.
The best way to build that metric? A high-intensity interval workout. And to really up the gains of your HIIT workout in a way that translates to the bike, you want to do moves that boost your power muscles—we’re talking mainly glutes, but also hamstrings and quads. And the key tool to make that happen is the kettlebell.
These cast iron bells test your overall strength, adding a core challenge to every move. Plus, you can use them for ballistic exercises, like swings and cleans, to build both your backside and your cardio capacity.
“A lot of endurance athletes work on VO2 max,” Gary explains. VO2 max, a marker of fitness level, refers to the amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. “One way to do that is not with steady-state [cardio], but by going out and doing intervals.”
You could do intervals on the bike, sure, but doing bursts of efforts, followed by periods of rest with strength equipment like the kettlebell, challenges your body in a new way and gets the heart rate up, while building overall strength and that coveted power endurance.
The Kettlebell HIIT Workout to Power Your Speed
To really work on your endurance, Gary suggests doing the moves below as an AMRAP workout—completing as many rounds as possible in 5 to 7 minutes. “The goal here would be to do all the reps of every exercise, only stopping if you need to,” he says.
“This is a great way to gauge progress over time,” he adds. “If you’re using the same exercise with the same or more weight and can do more rounds within that set time frame, then you’ve increase your work capacity and fitness.” Even better: You’ll see those gains pay off with more speed for longer rides.
How to use this list: Complete the following exercises in order. Do each exercise for the number of reps listed below. Set the timer for 5 to 7 minutes and go for as many rounds as you can complete in that time. Complete 2 to 3 total rounds, taking five minutes of rest between AMRAP sets.
Each move is demonstrated by Gary so you can master the proper form. You will need a kettlebell. An exercise mat is optional.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Row
Why you need it: Strengthen your posterior chain (those back-of-body muscles) with this move. You also work the connection between the hamstrings, glutes, and quadratus lumborum (or QL, the deep abdominal muscles that sit on either side of the low spine), to the lats (back muscles) on the opposite side.
How to do it: Start standing, holding a kettlebell in right hand. Perform a single-leg Romanian deadlift by lifting right leg off the floor, hinging from hips, and lowering body and kettlebell down, while right leg lifts behind you. Bend left knee just slightly. While balancing on left leg and with torso parallel to floor, perform a single arm row with the kettlebell by pulling right elbow back, hand reaching ribcage. Keep back flat and shoulders down. Extend arm to lower kettlebell back down. Then drive through left foot to stand back up, extending hips. Repeat. Do 8 to 10 reps per side.
Single-Arm Swing With Lateral Step
Why you need it: A plyometric move—meaning an explosive exercise that amplifies your power—this exercise also trains the lower body, the opposite side of the upper body, and targets the core significantly. Translation to your bike: the ability to produce force that ups your speed, while staying steady and upright.
How to do it: Start standing, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, kettlebell in front of you, about arm’s length away. Hinge at hips and grab the kettlebell with right hand. Drag it back and behind you, right at groin. Drive feet into ground and powerfully send hips forward for a single-arm swing. As the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, step right foot in to meet left. As the kettlebell lowers back down, step right foot back out to starting position, and send hips straight back for the hinge. Repeat. Do 8 to 10 reps per side.
Lateral Lunge With Single-Arm Clean
Why you need it: Improve your stability while working laterally—something we don’t do enough, considering riding involves mostly front and back movement. This will keep you from imbalances in the body, while also strengthening those power providers, a.k.a. your glutes. This exercise also gets your heart rate revving.
How to do it: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in right hand. Step left foot out into a lateral lunge, bending left knee and sending butt back. As you step out, bring the kettlebell toward left foot. Right leg stays straight. Then, drive through left foot and thrust hips forward, pulling the kettlebell into a racked position. Repeat. Do 8 to 10 reps per side.
Single-Leg Overhead Press
Why you need it: Strengthen the upper body to hold strong while you clock miles; build core stability to keep you upright on the bike; and better your balance for more stable riding.
How to do it: Start with the kettlebell in the racked position on right side, at shoulder height with thumb at sternum. Lift right leg and balance on left foot. Standing tall, press the kettlebell overhead, keeping right arm in line with ear. Pull the kettlebell back down to shoulder height, in racked position. Repeat. Do 8 to 10 reps per side.