I teach my class on a scale of 5-10. Each instructor is a bit different in their method, but I find that having an established scale and guide allows riders to challenge themselves more and better visualize their ride
5: Flat Road. Minimal resistance. Should feel no engagement in the legs. This is the base that riders come to when told to flush their wheel.
6: Trail Flat. A little more resistance & traction should be felt while maintaining the sensation of being on a flat road.
7: Gentle Incline. This is the base of the hill where the climb is just beginning. Resistance is felt in the quads, but a quick pace should be able to be maintained without feeling breathless.
8: Steady Hill. The climb is officially on. The leg is fully engaged and riders may need to drop their heels to apply more pressure to the pedals.
9: Steep Incline. Riders are breathless and finding it difficult to maintain the pushing and pulling motion with their feet. They may want to lower their body toward the handle bars to help push up the hill.
10: Vertical climb. The climb has become so difficult that riders want to come out of saddle to finish the climb; don’t let them. The sensation is felt of going vertically up at an impossible degree.
After making sure that everyone is setup on their bike, brief introduction to class, explanation of teaching style, and stretch. Warmups should last 8-12 minutes, so although I only designate one song of 3-5 minutes to warmup, I expect riders to slowly acclimate to class through the first couple of work songs too. Stretch should include leg movement and some upperbody limbering. Focus on opening up the chest and stretching the back as riders will spend the next hour-ish hunched over their bikes.
Still warming up on this first hill and getting everyone accustomed to their bike and flywheel. I teach on a scale of 5 to 10, 5 being a flat road, and generally take the first hill to climb through the entire scale.
Starting off at a resistance of 8/9, I get riders to alternate between standing and hovering throughout the song, typically for bouts of 30 seconds. 3/4 minute pop songs are perfect for this, as you can stand up and charge at the chorus, and hover in between.
This is a variation on a standard hill that will fully engage your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back in a high octane climb! Choose a 4 minute long song for this hill. Start the climb seated at an 8, and when the chorus comes, get into a nice, low hover. Once the chorus ends, take it back seated and increase resistance to a 9. Continue this pattern to finish this song standing at a 10!
Jumps, though not for every rider, are a great way to amp up that lower body workout and fit in a solid heart rate spike. Choose your pace; I typiclly encourage riders to maintain a pattern of standing for 4 counts and sitting for four counts, but for a beginner class, 8 counts up/down to a slower song may be preferrable. Find a song with a solid beat on the 4th/8th count that isn’t too fast. For a challenge, I will often tell participants to go double time for the last minute, increasing their speed from 8 or 4 beats to 4 or 2 beats. Throughout the jumps, riders should explode out of their seats and return to them gently, as though sitting on eggshells.
If riders aren’t sweating yet, they will be here! The entire song will be spent standing (discourage standing for participants with knee or back injuries), alternating between a steady jog and a full on run at the Chorus. Encourage riders to minimize bouncing while standing, and keep their butts back over the saddle.
On a rolling hill, riders will alternate between climbing with heavy resistance and coming down the hill. This can last through one song or a few. I typically use four types of rolling hills:
1) 7 + 1, 2, 3: Choose a base (5, 6, or 7). From your base, you will increase resistance by 1 turn, then return to your base, 2 turns, then return to your base, 3 turns, then return to your base etc. For a longer hill, choose a lower base. Maintain pace at each climb for about 45 seconds, and only allow 15-25 seconds back at the base.
2) 576879810: Start at a 5. Add 2 turns of resistance (7). Take off one turn (6). Add 2 turns of resistance (8). Take off one turn (7). Add two turns of resistance (9). Take off one turn (8). Add two turns of resistance (10). Maintain pace at each resistance for 1/9 of the song.
3) Freestyle: Add and subtract resistance as you see fit/let the class direct the pace of the ride. This is good in a large, outgoing class in which you know people will speak up. This type of exercise really allows riders to own their ride, which I have found the vast majority enjoy.
4) Sit/Stand: I like to throw this drill in immediately after the first hill of the workout. Riders sit at an 8 and stand and climb at a solid 10. The resistance is heavy throughout the ride. I tend to choose a 5+ minute long song for a rolling sit and stand.
This is intended as an upbeat climb perfect for warming up or really at any point in your ride. Riders spend a minute at each resistance; 30 seconds at a base speed, and 30 seconds pushing, adding at least 10% in speed. Use the 5-10 scale for a 6 minute climb, or adjust to your needs.
SPEED @ 70%-80%-90%
A 3.5 minute song is perfect for this speed drill. I enjoy using this for the first speed drill of the day while everyone is still getting their legs warmed up. Riders spend a 1/3 of the song at each speed point. They can choose to ride on a flat road (just make sure enough resistance is on so that they aren’t bouncing in their seats), or add on resistance for an extra challenge. Speed will increase by 10% each minute for the duration of the song.
During speed drills I expect a 90% minimum from riders during each push, usually lasting 20-30 seconds through the songs chorus. In between, I allow the class to recover @ around 75-80% speed.
With the resistance at a light 7-8, have riders stand up and practice riding with one hand behind the back, alternating hands throughout the ride. Break this up by doing quad isolations, having riders ride for 15/20/30 seconds with NO BOUNCING. It is pretty difficult and will really exhaust the quads.
A long hill will typically cover the span of two songs. It is great for beginners/a class when you don’t want to talk a lot because the riders spend a longer time at each resistance. This can range anywhere from 6 to 9 minutes in duration. I like to use it right after the warmup as my first hill, or as the last hill of the day directly before/after the last sprint.
I tend to save the sprint for the last song or two. It differs in title from Speed because I expect an all out, empty the tank performance from each individual rider. I usually ditch the pop in favor of heavy bass and techno for this last all out effort. Some songs produce 5 20 second sprints, others 2 1 minute sprints. Choose your sprint according to class ability and preference.
Allow riders to at last flush their wheel (take the resistance back to a flat road), and spend about a minute pedaling slowly, letting their heart rate fall and breathing recover. After about a minute, begin stretching the upperbody, moving slowly and steadily through to lower body stretches. Make sure to stretch the calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes adequately, and to maintain each stretch for at least 15 seconds. It seems like long time, but will pay off for riders the next day when they don’t experience any extreme muscle tightness. Encourage riders to drink plenty of water in the hours post workout and congratulate them on a job well done!