Spin Class Strength Training

Hello everyone,

Me at the Cycling Studio
I feel lucky to teach in a dedicated cycling studio. Am I not cool with my camouflage kit!

Today I want to introduce you to a strength training class I’ve been running for the last few months.  To properly conduct a strength training workout on the spin bike, our students must have an understanding of resistance settings.  Some of us out there have the capabilities to easily express resistance and cadence with the newer spin bicycles.  Those bicycles display cadence and might even display wattage.  However, if you are teaching on a spin bicycle that has no electronic readings, then we must communicate our resistance levels and cadences in a way the student understands.  You’ll find the workout and those communication queues in the rest of my blog.  It is important to explain resistance levels to the spin student in a way that they can understand; especially, if the bicycle has no means of communicating it back besides the turn of the resistance knob.  I usually work from a 6 out of 10 and all the way to an 9 out of 10 when building a strength class.  (My current class uses a 10 out of 10, but that will be another blog) Here is how I explain these resistance levels.

6/10 resistance:  You are on a hill that has a very gradual increase in grade.  You can just feel the resistance on the pedals and it is an easy resistance when standing.  You could hold this resistance for the entire workout.

7/10 resistance: You know for sure you are on a hill.  You have to focus harder to push the pedals but it feels fluid and natural when standing.  If you worked really hard, you could only hold this resistance for 15 minutes.

8/10 resistance: This is the hardest resistance you could push and keep your pedal cadence the same speed.  You could only hold this resistance for 5 minutes.  This is a steep hill.  You have to use your body weight to push the pedals down when standing.

9/10 resistance: The resistance forces you to slow your cadence down to 60 – 75 rpm when seated.  This is a very steep hill.  You have to push really hard when standing to keep the pedals moving to the beat of the music.

Okay, so let’s get to the workout!


This workout is built in three stages.  The first stage is always used to warm up the students.  We should never get into a heavy resistance workout not fully warmed up.  We use the second song and the fourth song to help develop the students 6, 7, 8, and 9 resistance.  Conducting a good warm up and allowing the students to figure out their resistance levels on the spin bike, will make stages 2 and 3 much more focused and productive.

Stage 2 and 3 both have the students always standing at the 9/10 resistance level.  Stage 2 and 3 are all about creating “Time under Tension.”  Extended periods under a heavy resistance level is one way to create muscular strength.  I inform them that the 6/10 resistance is your new base and we will not drop below that besides one active recovery song in between.

We provide variety in each stage with varying strength training routines, while also producing familiarity by carrying over those same micro-formats into stage 3.  It is very important that we carry over some of these micro-formats within each stage.  For instance, the seated ladder is ran during Stages 1, 2, and 3.  From this seated ladder, I also build in a variation within stage 2, which is similar to a seated ladder but requires a standing 9/10 at a set interval.

Okay, so here we go!

Stage 1: Warm up

Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar(3:28): Warm up.

China Grove, Doobie Brothers(3:15): Seated ladder at 6, 7, and 8 resistance level.  Students practice finding these intensity levels individually.

Fire, Jimi Hendrix(2:44): 6/10 resistance, quick 15 second stands to warm up the legs.

Run Through the Jungle, Creedence(3:05): Seated ladder starting at 7/10 and finishing at 9/10.  The student knows their 9/10 resistance is correct when they can only pedal to the beat of the music while seated.

Stage 2: Time to Work

Don’t Look Down, Martin Garrix Mix(3:43): Tell the students 6/10 resistance is now their base.  Their recoveries after heavy efforts should happen slowly.  Standing at a 9/10.

Runaway, Glantis(3:47): This song builds fantastically to work as a standing variation of the seated ladder.  Standing on the 9/10 resistance level.

Confident, Demi Lovato(3:26): Seated hill, feet matching the beat of the song at the end of the hill which is a seated 9/10 resistance.

Insomnia, Audien(3:34): Standing hills.

Lost and Found, Ellie Goulding(3:37): Active Recovery, flat road resistance when seated, and standing is an easy 6/10 resistance.

Stage 3: Kill it

Something Better, Audien(3:33): Back to work with our 9/10 stands.  Let the students know we will not go below the 6/10 resistance for the rest of the workout.  We are also building strength by creating time under tension.

Roses, The Chainsmokers(3:46): Seated hill up to 9/10.

Million Pieces, Audiobot & Vassy(5:30): Very long stands at that 9/10 resistance.  Let new students know that this will be difficult and it’s okay to sit down if they are having problems at this point of the workout.

Follow me, Hardwell & Jason Derulo(3:20): Heavy resistance stands 9/10.  Last song, so tell the students to try these stands with as much resistance they can hold while matching the beat.

That’s my latest workout I recently retired.  I am super excited about my current strength workout.  It’s something I’ve never done before and my students are so excited to do it.  See you next month for my next update on a pretty good tempo workout.


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