This week I am sharing my interval class I created for the indoor cycling studio. I love teaching spin/cycle class and intervals are my favorite type of cycling class to create and teach. They really challenge your students to dig deep and push through their boundaries. I always tell my students to prepare to get uncomfortable during this ride. Getting uncomfortable is part of pushing yourself past your boundaries. I also follow the statement about getting uncomfortable with a statement about being safe and working within your own capabilities. Someone with a heart condition or injury should not be doing the Tabata drill (20 second sprint/10 second full rest). If getting fit and losing some unwanted weight was easy, we would all be fit and lean. However, hurting ourselves while trying to get fit is not something we are after. It takes some hard work and determination to burn off those calories and intervals are a great way to kickstart your metabolism for the rest of the day. Here is why Tabatas on the indoor spin bike are great for your students.
The Tabata protocol was originally created by Dr. Izumi Tabata when he was a speed skating coach. He found that short bursts of very intense exercise created the same benefits as hours of moderate training. An article from the Gardian, The Tabata Workout Programme: Harder, Faster, Fitter, Quicker, explains it all fairly well.
“The results were startling. After six weeks of testing, the group following Tabata’s plan – exercising for just 88 minutes a week – had increased their anaerobic capacity by 28% and their VO2 max, a key indicator of cardiovascular health and maximal aerobic power, by 15%. The control group, who trained for five hours every week, also improved their VO2 max, but by 10% – and their training had no effect on anaerobic capacity. Not only do you get just as fit, but you burn additional calories after you the exercise has ended.”
Those are some dramatic increases with only 88 minutes of work! The Tabata workout allows you to sustain your calorie burn for hours after it is complete.
“Another soon-to-be-published finding, which Tabata describes as “rather significant”, shows that the Tabata protocol burns an extra 150 calories in the 12 hours after exercise, even at rest, due to the effect of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.”
Your students will love the idea of burning 150 more calories after their workout is complete. Hell, I love the idea of burning 150 more calories after my workout! Alright, well let’s get started on my Tabata workout.
The progressive Tabata workout has three distinct stages. The first stage, and one of the most important stages of the workout, does two things. First, we make sure the student is fully warmed up with some short stands, some fast leg drills, and a seated hill to find their 8 out of 10 intensity. That 8/10 intensity is what they will use to execute the Tabata drill. We use the time on the seated hill to explain how to brake the bicycle and stop the flywheel completely. Stopping completely on the spin bike may seem unorthodox but it increases the difficulty of the drill since the student will have to start the flywheel back up under resistance. This is how each stage and Tabata drill will work.
During the first stage, we only do 4 Tabatas to feel out the 8/10 resistance. If the student cannot do anymore after the first four, their 8/10 is set to high. If they feel exhausted but could focus to get 2 or 3 more, then their resistance is just right, and so on. We then finish the song with 3 more Tabatas to feel out that new 8/10 resistance.
During the second stage, we take an active recovery and only do enough work to keep the heart rate up in the endurance to tempo range. Then we end this stage with a song where we can do 5 Tabata repeats in a row.
The third and final stage only has two songs for recovery. We allow them to slightly recover on the first song and then keep their heart rates well into the endurance zone for a full recovery on the second song. This is the time we use to tell them we will do 8 Tabatas in a row, they can be successful, and to motivate them to get uncomfortable by pushing through their normal boundaries.
Workout Stage 1:
Her Strut, Bob Seger(3:53): Warm Up, Easy Spin.
Rockin’ In the Free World, Neil Young(4:42): Working at 6/10 and standing to loosen up the legs.
Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tom Petty(4:23): Fast Leg Drill, the student will increase leg speed on the 6/10 resistance only slightly higher than their normal cadence. This gets the cardiovascular system warmed up without undue fatigue on the legs.
La Grange, ZZ Top(3:50): Seated hill from 6/10 to 8/10 resistance at the end. Our goal is to explain what they should be feeling under the 8/10, “This is a heavy gear where you can just maintain your normal leg speed.”
Kickstart My Heart, Motley Crue(4:43): The student presses the brake on their spin bicycles to stop the flywheel. Start at :40 seconds into the song and do 4 tabata sets containing a 20 second sprint and brake the bike for a 10 second rest. Use the lull in the music at the middle of the song to readjust the 8/10 resistance. When the music picks up, do 3 more Tabatas to feel out the new resistance if it was changed.
Blame(Workout Mix), Power Music Workout(4:26): Active Recovery. Allow your students to catch their breath.
I Want You to Know, Zedd(3:59): You can do a seated or standing hill here for 30 seconds a piece. Get them back up into the tempo zone or at least high endurance zone.
S.O.B., Nathaniel Rateliff(4:08): These are 15 second jumps. We just want to prime the legs right before our next Tabata drill.
Bad Reputation, Joan Jett(2:51): We start this right at the beginning where the music picks up. 5 sets of Tabatas at 20/10 work to rest.
Don’t Look Down, Martin Garrix(3:43): Active Recover. Allow your students to catch their breath.
Five More Hours, Deorro & Chris Brown(3:32): Easy resistance and easy pedaling. The student needs to start the Tabata nice and fresh. Use this time to find them some motivation or reasons why they want to work this hard. Tell them all the benefits of doing the Tabata. I also state that their goal is to do 6 strong Tabata intervals and the other two Tabatas are extra credit. This way, if a student can really only do 6, they still feel successful. However, I work hard during those last two Tabatas to convince my students that they can do these last two just as hard as the first two.
Born to Be Wild, Biggest Loser Power Music(4:41): Stop the flywheel and then we begin at 40 seconds into the song. 8 Tabatas in a row!
That concludes our workout everyone. You really have to “Embrace The Suck” on that last Tabata drill. Very experienced cyclist will find themselves fully exhausted and in severe oxygen debt after 8 straight Tabata drills. It is very important to congratulate your students at the end of this workout. It is a very advanced workout, but the benefits we get from it are unsurpassed. Especially those who are limited on time and can only do one or two spin classes a week.