Spin Class Endurance/Tempo Ride

Hello everyone,

FullSizeRender-5I teach at a local gym which has three different formats that we cycle each month.  One of those formats is “endurance” training.  Now, it is really hard to do an endurance ride within the 50 minutes you are allocated for a spin class.  To really get the most out of our endurance rides in spin class, instructors should be focusing on a tempo ride.  In this blog I will quickly cover the differences between endurance and tempo work on the spin bike, how we can benefit from the tempo zone in spin class, and then we will get right to my tempo workout.  

To be honest, endurance riding in a spin class is very difficult to pull off if you do real endurance riding.  Below, is a chart I pulled from trainingpeaks.com.  This chart is a ready reference for your training zones on a bicycle using heart rate, power, perceived exertion, and an explanation of how you would feel in this zone.

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As you can see, zone 2 endurance riding is really easy riding that only fatigues you when it goes beyond 2 hours.  It is hard to get people motivated in a spin class doing true zone 2 riding at these lower heart rates.  To effectively teach an endurance format, we must focus not only on zone 2 but add in some zone 3 also.  The chart below shows the different muscle fiber types we are working in each zone.

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You can see that we are still doing effective endurance training on our Type I (slow twitch) muscle fibers as we move into zone 3 for our spin class.  Plus, being able to get into zone 3 is much more fun than just pedaling easy in zone 2. We also recruit some of our Type IIa (fast twitch) muscle fibers.  I won’t get into all of the biology of muscle fibers types in this blog, just know that zone 3 work is still working in that aerobic zone.

Now, if you have a bike with power and heart readings, identifying and setting your students zones is a fairly easy thing to do.  You also have a huge training advantage in your class compared to those of us who teach without heart rate or power data.  Those of us on traditional spin bikes have to use perceived exertion.  Explaining this to my students is easy and straight forward.  I tell my students we will be working in zones 2 and 3 for our workout.  In zone 2 you can carry on a casual conversation.  In zone 3 you can still carry on a conversation, but you can only say 3 to 4 words at a time.  It is as simple as that.  Have your students key in on their breathing during the class.  That is a pretty decent marker for what zone you are in.  Okay, on to the my class.

The key to doing this workout effectively is to always have some resistance on.  We are never taking a full recover during this workout.  

This class is marked as having three stages, but it really only has two stages.  I originally wrote this class up into three stages, but as I taught the workout, it felt like a two part workout, not a three part workout.  We do some pedal economy work right in the middle of this workout and that is the separation between part 1 and 2.  The first stage is used to get the legs warmed up.  I talk the students through the resistance levels of 5, 6, 7, and 8.  We roll right into the next segment after we spend one song doing some pedal economy work.  We end the workout with a chance to do some difficult standing work and move into our anaerobic zones.  I always love to end the workout hard , and the students respond to it very well also.

As always, I like to keep a lot of variety in the music selection.  This keeps the music appeal to a broader range of personalities in your spin class.  Every person should find at least one song they really like in your spin class.  Okay, let’s get to it!

Resistance Levels:

1/10: Flat Road easy pedaling

5/10: Slight increase in resistance

6/10: Pedaling into a headwind, or a very gradual hill/false flat

7/10: You know you are on a hill, you could hold this resistance for 20 minutes.

8/10: Hardest resistance you can pedal for 5 minutes while sitting and keeping your cadence in place.

Stage 1:  Warm up and working on figuring out our personal resistance levels.

More Than a Feeling, Boston(4:45): Flat road, easy pedaling to warm up the legs.

Stuck In the Middle With You, Stealers Wheel(3:24): We have a chance to sit up and clap during this song under a 5/10 resistance level.

Copperhead Road, Steve Earle(4:30): We move to 6/10 resistance as our base for the rest of the workout and stand twice at the end at a faster cadence.  Remember, we never go below a 6/10 until the class is over.

Rock and Roll, Led Zeppelin(3:41): 3 minute fast leg drill under 6/10 resistance.  You’re students increase leg speed slightly higher than their normal cadence.

Saturday Night Is Alright for Fighting, Power Music Workout(4:23): Time to move into zone 3 for some stands at either 7/10 or 8/10.

Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrisson(3:05): Have your students focus on pedal economy.  Concentrate on kicking your foot over the top and pulling the foot back on the back stroke.

Stage 2:  Steady working heart rate.  This stage is similar to riding a bicycle on rolling terrain.  We are on our seated 6, seated hill climb on 7, then standing climb on 8.  This will move our students’ heart rates from zone 2 and into zone 3 on the stands.

Summertime Sadness, Lana Del Rey(3:33): 2 of 8 rolling hills.

Burn, Ellie Goulding(5:04): 4 of 8 rolling hills.

Lay It All on Me, Rudimental(5:03): 6 of 8 rolling hills.

Strong Ones, Armin van Buuren(3:09): 8 of 8 rolling hills.

No Good, Kaleo(3:54): Seated hill climbs on our 7/10 resistance.

Follow Me, Hardwell & Jason Derulo(3:20): Here is the chance to go anaerobic, and this song really gets you there!

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy teaching spin class.

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