by Angela Reed-Fox
Indoor Cycling Instructor issues: My rider can't come out of the saddle for a standing climb!
This is not an uncommon indoor cycling problem at all - particularly if you're doing a good job at reaching riders who wouldn't normally consider indoor cycling but who could get a great deal out of it. So if you have this type of rider in your class, take this as a great compliment!
Why do riders struggle to come out of the saddle?
There are several potential problems a rider might be experiencing; here are the main ones, and they're often interrelated:
Lack of confidence
This is a very common problem. Many new riders have low confidence and a negative body image, and this is a major reason why new riders may come once and then not come back. There are two main ways to treat this problem:
Avoid running classes that are run like a choreography where it looks odd if a rider is not doing the same thing as everyone else. This is a surefire way of reinforcing a rider's low confidence if they're not able to do everything that other riders can do. The beauty of indoor cycling is that you don't need to have rhythm, to be able to feel and match a beat, you don't need to be fit to get started, and you can go at your own pace and adjust your resistance yourself and no one needs to know. It's good for riders to be reassured that others don't know what they're doing. They can then enjoy exercising in a group, enjoy the camaraderie but not feel like they're being judged.
You can build confidence by offering options. Every option you offer needs to be a positive one - enable your riders to win every time. Think about how you would feel if you were new to indoor cycling, you though everyone was fitter than you, you'd not been on a bike since you were a kid, and you were pretty confident you were the heaviest one there? Chances are that unless you've been that person, you can't know exactly how that feels - but you can imagine, and as an instructor it's important to have empathy and make the way easier for those who might be struggling.
For my first ever indoor cycling session, I stayed in the saddle for the whole time. When everyone else was up out of the saddle and loving life, I was plodding along at the back hoping no one noticed. I was worried that if I came out of the saddle I would feel unsteady and maybe fall off. I hated the session from start to finish and vowed never to do another indoor cycling session ever again. Life had other plans, obviously - but how many others have had a similar experience? And it's not always going to be the riders you expect. I was young, a healthy weight and reasonably fit. I just had low confidence and was terrified of falling off and being laughed at by the fit people. You can't spot that, and no rider is going to tell you that that's how they feel.
What would have helped would have been if the instructor noticed that I seemed incapable of doing what everyone else was doing, and just gave some simple, yet positive, options to the whole class so I didn't feel singled out. If he'd have said that we were all welcome to ride in the saddle but just add a little more resistance and that this would work our glutes harder, I would have not felt like such a loser.
Incorrect bike setup
Check the rider's bike setup. If the saddle is set too low (and it often is if the new rider has set up themselves on the bike) this will make it much harder to come out of the saddle in the first place as they're having to push much harder with their legs to get up.
Poor core strength
This is a prevalent problem for many new riders. The good news is that core strength does build quickly. To help them do this, a tweak to the bike setup will help - try raising their handlebars slightly so that when they're out of the saddle they're more upright than leaning forward - this will help them to stabilise. You can alter the bike setup as they get stronger and more confident.
The best way to build core strength (and also confidence and self-esteem) is with tiny challenges. Create easy wins. Can your rider come out of the saddle for TWO seconds? Work on the smallest increment possible. Once they've got the hang of two seconds, you can go for longer, but only increase bit by bit and make sure they win each time. Those with lots of confidence are happy to take on big challenges as they're confident they can get there, but those lacking in confidence will need tiny challenges so the reinforcement of repeatedly 'winning' can help to build their confidence. Once the rider has managed 5 seconds out of the saddle, when you have a standing climb ask them to join in for the first 5 and for the last 5 so they're starting and finishing with the others.
Back problems or pain
When the rider registers for class, you should have access to their PARQ and should know what issues they have decided to share with you. You'll still need to check with them. Backs are complicated. If they have an upper back, neck or shoulder issue, they might feel more comfortable with higher handlebars. Always check with new riders and explicitly ask about neck, back and shoulder issues. If you and they are reassured that they are safe and happy to ride, great. If you think they need to be referred back to their doctor or nurse before they undertake a class, as a responsible instructor you should do this.
These can be long or short term. An inner ear infection can last for a few weeks but can cause havoc with balance. Dyspraxia or neurological issues such as Parkinsons can mean balance is permanently impaired. Whichever it is - it's going to require patience, and options. In some cases the balance problem might be permanent and they will need permanent options in order to be able to take a class. As they come more often they'll be more in touch with what they can do, and will feel more and more comfortable sometimes doing something that the others are not doing. Reassure them that this is absolutely fine. Everyone is different, and you want each rider to get a great workout and have a good time.
New rider logic dictates that the resistance and the cadence must be high. If the resistance is too high, the rider is going to struggle to turn the pedals in or out of the seat. If the resistance is too low, the rider is going to be unsteady out of the saddle as the pedals fall away towards the bottom of the pedalstroke. Describe the intensity with each challenge, let them know how it should feel.
Try these suggestions - quality indoor cycling changes lives, and when you're dealing with these sorts of problems you're part of a tremendous solution.
Was this useful? Check out the Indoor Cycling instructors' Handbook which contains all sorts of help with planning sessions, delivering classes and class management.
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ICI Nano: Instructing off the bike for indoor cycling instructors
Instructing off the bike in an indoor cycling class - Why it’s done, when it’s done, and how to do it well
Instructing off the bike is something you may do during a session – or possibly in some circumstances, you may need to instruct an entire session off the bike. If you had to instruct a class off the bike this evening, how would you feel about that?
We tend to get used to what our ‘normal’ is. One of the biggest fears people have is public speaking. Perhaps giving a speech would be scary – but essentially every time we get on that bike at the front of the class, we’re public speaking! But what happens when we take the bike away? Would that feel scarier?
Why would you teach off the bike?
Reason 1: Correction
The most common reason to instruct off the bike is that you might need to subtly and sensitively correct someone’s technique. Occasionally you’ll get those riders who no matter what you say, no matter how you demonstrate bad and good technique, they’re still getting it wrong. Perhaps they didn’t hear. Perhaps they don’t realise they’re doing what they’re doing. Perhaps they’re just not really paying attention! In situations where the rider is putting themselves at risk by not applying your instruction to their cycling, you may need to come off the bike. Usually this will be because a rider is pedalling too fast with insufficient resistance on and therefore you have no choice but to fix this. Try to correct by instructing the whole class and not referring to any one rider; “let’s just check our cadence, make sure we’re sticking between 70-80RPM – that's the big number on your bike’s console; follow my footspeed if you’re not sure.” This is a good way of reminding riders what they should be doing, letting them know where to find the information, and giving them an alternative way of achieving it if they’ve forgotten their glasses and can’t see the metrics on the console in front of them.
Once you’ve ascertained that this approach hasn’t worked, you’ll need to up your intervention by coming off the bike. If a rider is putting themselves at risk, you need to address that.
Reason 2: Encouragement
You may want to come off the bike to give more energy and encouragement to individual riders. This is particularly valuable during long timetrial sections or perhaps when some riders are undertaking a power test.
Reason 3: Improvement
Riders don’t ride with perfect technique all the time. Sometimes they ride with perfect technique none of the time! Coming off the bike and doing a round of the class pointing out to individual riders how to pedal more efficiently and effectively, how to get more from each pedal stroke is valuable. Maybe some riders are riding with their toes down, maybe some riders are pedalling ‘in squares’ and not making the most of the ‘pull up’ and ‘push over’ parts of the pedal stroke. Maybe some riders may benefit from a change in handlebar position – you can make small adjustments during the class by coming off the bike. Always ask permission for touching a rider’s person or their bike. It's the professional thing to do.
This article is an excerpt taken from the Instructing off the bike nano course.
Want to find out more about instructing well off the bike? ICI Nano courses are a great way to update yourself as an instructor and get concise information in a bitesize chunk of time. Click below to get started on the Instructing off the bike nano course now:
Crimes Against Indoor Cycling: Two Turns Up
But you've heard it, right?
Lemme tell you why it's not effective and therefore most definitely not best practice...
1. If the bikes are not well-maintained (weekly matenance check and repairs are required as a minumum) then it's not long before bikes develop personalities of their own. Some will be evil, and some will be nice. Riders quickly work out which bike is which. Two turns up on the Hufflepuff bike is not at all the same as two turns on Slytherin, get my meaning?
2. No rider is the same. Two turns up means different things to the rider who weighs only 52kg, the rider who regular participates in triathlons, and the rider who is trying to lose 10kg. It's all about fitness, muscle strength, bodyweight, and a whole host of other factors.
What should you do instead? The key is to give riders the information they need to replicate the workout you've planned for them on their own bikes. Describe how the effort should feel - at what point should they start to feel breathless? When will their heartrates reach their anaerobic zone, if at all? At what point should their quads start to feel the extra effort? How long should they be able to sustain the effort?
These are quick ways to give riders an idea of the intensity you have in mind. If they replicate this - they'll all get the same workout regardless of their fitness level, body composition or other factors.
ICI instructors offer best practice to their classes. The focus is on safe, effective and efficient classes that get their riders results. More info? Click below.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Bad indoor cycling experiences hurt everyone
Business Insider has just published an article by Aria Bendix entitled Spinning class can lead to back pain and even damage your hearing. There are still reasons to participate.
Oh my golly gosh. Where to start... Unfortunately Aria's experience and what she writes about is still not history. It is still possible to play 'Bad Spin Bingo' in some places. So, what did Aria have on her bingo card?
First of all, there is no excuse for riders having this experience. And secondly, a few basic tweaks to the rider experience would transform the class from Bad Spin to World Class and make the workout safe, effective and efficient - Aria's workout was none of these.
So, what should be changed?
Proper rookie on-boarding
This is a biggie. Instructors should know:
Aria was concerned about falling off. Studios who rent out cycling shoes are putting riders at increased risk of falling off as well as increasing the risk of injuries and muscle aches. Why? Because riders are not used to clipping in (or clipping out) and so there are issues here, but also, everyone's biomechanics are different. The positioning of the cleat on the bottom of the shoe can mean the difference between injury and a comfortable workout. Everyone's different. Cycling shoes are individual - like toothbrushes, only more so. ;-)
Ditch the gimmicks
The 'All Body Workout' complete with natty little weights that are actually lighter than the average gerbil? Ditch it.
Well that's easily remedied - studios should have a fix on the volume level, a monitor to measure decibels, or a policy on music use. Or all three! Music adds atmosphere - but it can't do that when it's too loud, because then it's just noise.
Better quality instruction
Yes, of course if you're not sure what you're doing and you get on a bike and bob around for a bit, it's not going to be super-effective. But if you go to a well-instructed class, it flat-out works. We like tracking improvements, and we find in our public-facing studio that one of our 45 minute sessions is equal to about 70 minutes of cycling on the road in terms of calories burned. EPOC is more difficult to measure, but because we include high intensity intervals in a controlled environment (away from traffic jams, pot holes, and rest stops), this raises EPOC.
Indoor cycling improves fitness by burning fat, building muscle, improving cardiovascular endurance.
While all workouts done properly will improve health, the joy of indoor cycling (except for the banging tunes) is that you can make it harder as you get fitter. And my, can it get hard... Regarding improvements in health, we have seen riders who are diabetic reducing and coming off their diabetic meds, we've seen their cardiovascular risk shrink, their blood pressure, blood glucose (HbA1c) and cholesterol reduce, as well as their sensitivity to insulin increase. Yes. Proper indoor cycling does all these things.
Effective indoor cycling requires an instructor who knows what he/she is doing. Agreed, spinning out at low resistance doesn't burn calories, and is unsafe - and that's why no decent instructor will suggest doing that. Likewise high resistance at a low cadence equally can overload the joints, and good instructors will not suggest this either. Good instructors know how to set effective challenges with the right cadence, resistance and technique to burn LOADS of calories (for me, at 52kg, burning 450 calories in a 45 minute session is usual. Most riders will burn more than me.)
A good instructor will provide different options for riders. New riders will need more explanation, other riders may be recovering from injury, may be fatigued, or may be struggling to work hard and may need encouragement and direction to work at a lower intensity. This should be part of every session.
No decent instructor is ever going to tell riders to 'pedal as fast as they can'. This is dangerous and encourages crazy pedalling with insufficient resistance. There's just no need. An instructor who initiates this sort of challenge is putting riders at risk of rhabdomyolysis which is usually seen as a result of crush injuries (from car crashes for example). It occurs when the body starts breaking down muscle tissue. The resulting large molecules of protein are filtered out through the kidneys and left unaddressed can cause kidney damage and in extreme cases kidney failure - requiring hospitalisation. It's that serious. It's rare, but it's seen when riders are being forced to work past their capacity and not take recovery breaks. A case was brought by Kaila Cashman against Soul Cycle in 2016 for precisely this reason. And it could have been avoided by safe, effective instruction.
A more informed approach
Using heart rate training software is best practice and keeps riders safe (we've found riders with previously undiscovered heart conditions through our use of heartrate training - some of whom went on to have surgery).
Also, running classes with different focuses enables riders to really take charge of their workouts, and get the results they want by using a combination of high intensity intervals and aerobic training. The aerobic bit will burn fat, improving power to weight ratio as well as prompting the body to develop more mitochondria which enables the body to work harder at a higher intensity whilst burning lots of fat. And that higher intensity stuff? Great for building muscular strength, anaerobic capacity, and firing the metabolism.
I'm always interested in hearing about riders' experiences of indoor cycling - especially new riders. I'd love to be able to just go around fixing things like a sweaty fairy godmother - but using feedback like this is one of the ways that we build new features into our courses and ensure that ICI courses are the most comprehensive and useful ones on the market. It helps us to support gyms who want to improve their offering, and I confess, I'm nosy. I just like to know what's going on, but it's important to remember that terrible experiences like these effect all of us. People are denied a super-effective workout and the results they deserve, instructors are denied the opportunity to change lives, and gyms are denied the opportunity to be an irreplaceable part of the health solution for many people - and if they're offering such risky classes, they're putting their riders in danger, and themselves at risk of litigation.
Read the complete Business Insider article here.
If you're an instructor or a gym manager, we can help you to deliver quality classes that are safe, effective and efficient. That's what we do.
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by Angela Reed-Fox
7 steps to a safer, more effective indoor cycling class
You'd think that'd be so easy everyone would be doing it, right? Well when we recently updated our entry level 2 day indoor cycling instructor course, we include a bit on litigation (because if you need your insurance, you're too late!) and as part of this we research court cases being brought against cycling studios and gyms, and we look for patterns in the reasons for the litigation, and who is being blamed. In more than 95% of recent cases (in the last five years) it's due to instructor error - instructors have either given poor instruction or have had riders doing unsafe moves.
Incidentally the remaining 5% of cases is due to either the studio being too dark for riders to see what they're doing, or equipment being poorly maintained or with sharp prominences.
What does this mean for you as an indoor cycling instructor?
It means that there's a lot you can do to reduce the risk of injury for your riders, and litigation both for yourself and your venue. Here's how:
There are three points at which each rider should be asked about injuries, health issues or concerns:
All new riders need a bike setup - this is the perfect opportunity to answer any questions they have and help them feel comfortable. A suitable bike setup will reduce aches and improve comfort. Riders will be able to ride more efficiently, using more of the larger muscle groups as they pedal. This improves the calorie burn and the training effect.
Consider jotting your riders' bike settings on record cards which they can refer to at their next session and have a go at setting themselves up. Think about data protection though and make sure you destroy old cards.
In the interests of safety and effectiveness, this is essential. Riders need to know what you're asking them to do, as well as how. For a bonus point, you can also tell them why it's good for them!
There are five main points you'll need to give them for each challenge:
Be kind, and don't forget to cue them in and cue them out.
Cadence is a biggie when it comes to rider injuries. Safe cadence also requires safe resistance. What we need to particularly guard against is crazy high cadence with insufficient resistance . Not only is this totally ineffective, but it increases the risk of the rider losing control of the pedals. (Remember, the bike has a
So, stick to a safe cadence range. We don't recommend going lower than 60rpm. Obviously it's possible to pedal slower than this, but what tends to happen at this point is that riders either don't have sufficient resistance to be pedalling effectively, or they have so much on they're unable to pedal any faster and are overloading their joints.
We don't recommend going higher than 120rpm. But in fact, when we're instructing, we tend to encourage riders to add more resistance if they're reaching 120rpm, which will then bring their cadence down. Yes, it's possible to pedal that fast with riders who are experienced and have good coordination. However, you'll frequently see terrible technique starting to creep in when you reach this point, which decreases effectiveness, so I'd recommend avoiding going past this point with any riders, however experienced. Always give a cadence guide and let riders know how it should feel as well. Bouncing bottoms in the saddle are a dead giveaway - as are bikes that start squeaking when they're being pedalled fast with no resistance! It's OK to say "If I can hear your bike, you need to add on!"
Avoid banned moves
We have a list of banned moves. We strongly recommend that venues do this too, either by using ours or creating their own. We ban a move either because it's ineffective and therefore pointless, or because it's downright dangerous.
How do riders know they're getting fitter? Remember that a lot of your riders are not in your class purely for enjoyment - they want and need results. What will you do? We recommend using power training so they can see measurable results. If we go by how we feel, this is too subjective and we'll get demotivated quickly. On the other hand, if we can point to actual quantifiable improvements, we're more likely to stay motivated as we can see our effort paying off. Ask us about our power training courses.
Using heartrate training in classes is safer. Riders can get to know better how their bodies respond to activity, they know when they need to take it easier than usual, and when they can start pushing harder. They'll be able to detect when they might be overtraining, and they'll be able to stay within safe parameters as each session becomes tailored to them. Not only all this, but we've spotted instances of riders having anomalies which after medical investigation showed conditions being diagnosed such as atrial fibrillation and also blockages of arteries which led to surgery.
So there we go - seven ways you can make your classes safer and more effective. Want help or advice on instructor practice or MyZone heartrate training? Get in touch - we're here to help you.
Indoor cycling instructor? Click below for free CPD resources. Your venue can also receive information on how we can help improve customer registration, retention, engagement and profitability.
by Angela Reed-Fox
What do you do when a rider's late to indoor cycling class?
No doubt you'll have come across this situation before if your venue doesn't have a policy on late class entries. We've found the following works well as a 7 step process:
1. Pre-educate your riders
Even before the situation next presents, you can prepare your riders. Educate them - let them know the reasons for warming up, what it does, the benefits to them, and also (this will tend to stick in riders' minds for longer) what they stand to lose by skipping it. If they realise there are real physiological reasons, they're more likely to take the warm-up - and you - seriously.
Remind your riders why they're warming up - for example getting into the right mindset, warming and preparing muscle tissue, cardiovascular system and lubricating joints, reducing risk of injury. Remind them that with a proper warm up they'll be able to better tackle the challenges you have planned for them, that by warming up they'll be prepared and better able to work harder (and get better results). Remind them that you've lovingly prepared the session's profile and that you don't want them to miss a second of the delights you have in store. Teaching your riders about the importance of a warmup also presents you as an expert they can trust and respect. Trust and respect are great in the long-term as you decrease incidences of lateness to your classes - but also ddevelop more of a following as riders recognise that you know what you're talking about!
You can ask them who gets the importance of a good warmup. Ask for a response. There's psychology behind this - humans are very consistent creatures. If they say they agree with something, or stand for something, they're very likely to follow this through with action. Just by allowing your riders to voice their appreciation of how important a warm-up is will help to reduce lateness, you can trust that they are more likely to act in line with what they say than go against it.
2. Keep it light - and check for injuries
Riders are there to have a good time as well as an effective workout. The great thing is they came! The less great thing is they're late. Be warm and encouraging. You're most likely going to be on the bike already when your late rider turns up. From the bike (so that you have witnesses) ask them if they have any injuries - and then pop off your bike, and go over to them, once you've given your other riders something to carry on with (either the next step of their warm up or their first challenge).
3. Check again
Once you're in front of the rider, park the microphone so you can talk solely to your latecomer. Check again that they have no injuries or other matters that you should be aware of. If you're both satisfied that your latecomer is fit to ride they will need to do a proper warm up. Give them at least 10 minutes of pedalling before you draw them into the rest of the class. You may need to reinforce why the warm up is important.
4. Don't skimp on the warm-up
Your venue may have a 10 minute rule whereby any rider arriving more than ten minutes (or other time period) may not be permitted. Different venues have different policies - this article is concerned with how you, the instructor, can respond within the confines of venue policy.
Regardless of when the rider arrives, they need to complete a full warm up. Not only does this have the obvious physiological benefits to safely prepare them for the rest of the workout, but also it emphasises that you take your class seriously, just as you take your riders' health seriously. If you skip the warm up for latecomers, it's almost a tacit encouragement for others to arrive at their own convenience, as well as portraying the warm-up as a formality that can be casually skipped.
5. Get the party started
If you haven't already, get the rest of the class started on the body of the workout. Keep an eye on your latecomer, and bring them in when they're suitably warm. If you don't have heartrate training and therefore can't see where they're at, use RPE to let them know where they should be after how long. Once they've reached the required level after the required amount of time (don't rush it!) you can join them in to what the rest of the class is doing.
6. Be nice
Always always be nice. Remember that you're there as a coach and to give your riders a great and effective experience. Riders will respect you more as an instructor if they see that you are consistent, that you care about your welfare, and that you run a great, organised class. We've not encountered any problems from riders when we follow this plan. It's light-handed, it's professional, and riders know where they are and what's expected.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Indoor Cycling Instructor tips - fixed wheel
The way the stationary bike works is by a fixed wheel, which essentially means that when the pedals are turning so does the flywheel. Conversely, if the flywheel is turning, so will the pedals. And this right here is the crux of why it's important that instructors understand the implications, but also that they tell riders what they need to know in order to stay safe.
There are several instances every year of cycling studios and their instructors being sued because of injuries occurring during an indoor cycling session. We've had a look through what the causes are - and I'd say over 95% of them were completely avoidable and due to either a lack of knowledge on the instructor's part, or poor instructing (twp reasons why the Indoor Cycling Institute exists). And the rest? Really weird stuff that happens when you store hand-held weights on the back of the bike or dark studios where people can't see what's going on, that type of thing.
What you need to tell your riders
What you need to concentrate on during your class
The warming up pace should be leisurely, but riders should be in control of the pedals and feel the bike's resistance as they go. At all times,coach riders with how the resistance should feel (especially if the bikes have no metrics).
Most injuries (and litigation) occur as a result of a rider sprinting incorrectly. Make sure you coch correct resistance, technique and cadence. Click here for more about sprinting.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Safe and effective sprinting in indoor cycling
The one indoor cycling manoeuvre which causes the most injuries (and litigation) appears to be 'sprinting'. But effective sprinting is safe - what we've found it that sprinting is frequently coached wrongly or badly, putting riders at risk of injury.
What sprinting is not
Sprinting is not having riders pedalling as fast as they can. We've seen examples of instructors asking riders to match an unsafe foot speed (regardless of the ability, fitness, and coordination of the rider), getting riders to compete against each other to see who can go the furthest (using the bike's distance metric) or having riders competing to pedal the fastest.
The above practices (and others) promote riders pedalling with insufficient resistance; with the fixed flywheel construction of the stationary bike, this means they are more likely to lose control of the bike, putting them at risk of horrible injury.
What sprinting is
What happens as Sagan decides to attack?
1. He adds on gears
This is similar to us adding on resistance - but on a road bike, when you add gears, it means every push of the pedal will get your nearer to the finish line. Instantly he's making it harder to pedal.
2. He positions himself
Moving his seat closer to the nose of the saddle, he's shifting his weight forward on the bike. This means he can power down on the pedals more efficiently because he's shifting further ahead of the crankarms which means he can recruit more power from those big muscle groups.
3. He picks up the pace
Then he's ready to fire. Added to the steps he's already taken, when he increases the cadence and fires forward.
What does that mean for you instructing a sprint?
First of all, it means there's a definite order. Although Greipel employed these steps in a second, he'd be adding cadence onto resistance, not the other way round. For him, that would mean he's wasting energy with a faster cadence at a lower resistance, but in the studio where we have a fixed wheel setup and no actual finish line, it's more about safety. We keep our riders safe by always ensuring that they have sufficient resistance for their ability, their level of fitness, and the cadence they're pedalling.
Coaching different positions on the bike is great not just for seasoned veterans, but also for new riders who will welcome their bodyweight being shifted to a different part of their undercarriage! We'll be recruiting muscles differently when we shift to a different position.
In the clip, Sagan looks like he's pedalling at about 100-110rpm (approx). That's a vast difference from some of the unsafe craziness that occurs in studios. Why doesn't he pedal faster? Because he's pedalling against an immense resistance and he knows his most efficient cadence when sprinting. As a general rule of thumb in the studio, if your rider can manage 120rpm, that rider needs to add resistance.
What would happen if Peter Sagan did a dangerous 'studio sprint' in this situation? Well what would happen would be he'd pick up the pace and reduce the resistance (we've seen that happen) so essentially his power output would drop, as his cadence increased. He would be overtaken. His legs would be flapping wildly as he pedals in his 'granny' gear while his opponents would quickly flock past him snatching glory from him well before the finish line. He'd probably lose his place on the team for the next season, and therefore miss out on lots of lucrative sponsorship deals too. See, it's just not worth it!
How should you coach the sprint?
by Angela Reed-Fox
Enable your indoor cycling riders to recover
You'll have seen it, the rider a the back of your indoor cycling class who starts looking a bit green. What do you do?
Well, in the first place, I'd appreciate the fact that a) you managed to spot it, and b) your venue has enabled you to keep an eye on your riders by not making it too dark in the studio.
This state is generally more usually a problem for newer riders who haven't worked out their pacing yet. Also riders who are coming in from elsewhere who have cut their teeth in the 'inevitable death' school of indoor cycling may look a little peaky too. But you'll also get riders who are just not on their usual form and maybe push just that little too hard. So by all means keep an eye on your newbies, but make sure no one else escapes your gimlet gaze either.
by Angela Reed-Fox
Using cadence effectively in indoor cycling
Training with cadence
Training with cadence enables you to train for different outcomes. There is a range that is safe and effective – coaching outside this range can put riders at increased risk of injury and render a workout ineffective (or suboptimum at best), even for seasoned cyclists. Within the safe, effective range of 60-110rpm you can pinpoint narrower ranges in order to train to a specific rationale.
Defining your challenge
Resistance and cadence together will define your challenge. Although indoor cycling is a highly effective way of training for the road, there are necessary departures where indoor cycling is a little different. In the studio, 60-80rpm is the range used for climbing and higher resistance work, and 80-110rpm is a flat road requiring faster work. On the road, you would naturally find a faster cadence to prevent fatigue, in the studio we use different cadence to improve on technique and maximise gains. Most road cyclists train at cadences above 80rpm with a lowr resistance whether climbing or not in order to reduce strain on joints and to reduce fatigue by focusing on slow-twitch muscle fibres.
Cadence and technique
Coaching technique is essential for all riders – you may sometimes come across riders who are keen to pedal beyond 120rpm; it is very rare to see this done well even (or especially) among those riders accustomed to riding on the road. In a class setting, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness for all riders, it is better to coach within the broad range specified; you can then coach effective technique, and riders can more easily feel the difference when they are riding effectively.
Cadence - choosing the right tool for the job
Focusing on narrower ranges enables you to keep the class together, and instruct effective challenges. 60-70rpm is a heavy, challenging climb (or ride into a headwind), resistance should be high - at this cadence you are promoting the use of fast twitch muscles and challenges will necessarily be short due to the muscle fibres' limitations. 70-80 provides a steadier 'working' climb. This calls on the slower twitch muscles and is a good cadence for an endurance climb (in or out of the saddle).
A slightly higher cadence – 80-90rpm is great for coaching power intervals or for a steadier flat road/timetrial. At this pace it is easier than with the higher cadences to embed good pedalling technique. At 90-100rpm this is optimum timetrialling cadence and many riders find their comfort zone is here. Resistance is lighter than before, and you're heading for endurance.
The fastest cadence you're coaching is 100-110rpm. This is more of a sprinting pace. When you instruct a sprint, ensure that riders know to add resistance on rather than just spin the legs. Fast legs with insufficient resistance on a bike with a weighted flywheel does not provide the required biofeedback for neuromuscular conditioning – the road cycling version would be tackling a long flat road in the granny ring; lots of flapping legs, but no distance covered. There's a reason why pro-cyclists don't train like this!
Being clear with cadence
With a class of riders, necessarily there will be a mix of abilities and levels of fitness even in the more tailored class setups; this makes effective instruction all the more important. You can effectively coach a class while being quite prescriptive with the cadence you expect from riders – you just need to be sure to describe how the appropriate resistance should feel (using positive language, of course!) so that each rider can replicate the challenge you set on their own bike. Only with the very highest cadences in the range will you need to offer other options to very new riders or those requiring special attention. Otherwise, cadence is a great leveller – all riders can tackle it while employing the level of resistance that is right for them.
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