In October, I really wanted to challenge my indoor cycling students to a truly tough interval workout. I brought back my Tabata’s for the indoor spin bike. This workout is posted below, along with my play list. It is a fairly easy workout to teach. You spend the first stage of the workout warming the legs up and handing out great pointers on form and style. Remember, you always need a good warm up, especially before an interval session. At the end of our warm up interval, we practice the Tabata protocol on the bike. Practice is needed so your students’ know how to successfully execute the “Tabata Death” workout at the end. The rest of the workout follows a simple flow. After the Tabata warmup, the workout is pretty easy to teach; Interval, Active Recover, Interval, etc.
Here is the workout broken into three stages. Stage 1 is dedicated to warmup and finding those resistance levels that are particular to each user (6/10, 7/10, 8/10). Stage 2 and 3 have two active recoveries and two sets of intervals. The active recoveries are just as important as the intervals. Remember, you must allow the students to functionally recover so they can work hard on each interval set and feel successful. There is nothing worse than doing a spin class where the instructor just beats you down for 45 minutes. Those workouts have diminishing returns. You never get any rest, so you start failing on the interval songs. Not very productive if we really want to get the most out of our interval sets.
Just a quick summary of resistance levels.
- 6 is a shallow hill, not easy but not hard; you could ride this the whole hour.
- 7 is a medium hill, decent work, but you could only hold this for 20 minutes.
- 8 is an interval resistance, hard work, and you could only hold this for 60 to 90 seconds.
The other thing we need to talk about is the definition of an interval. Many students just don’t understand what this means on a spin bike. You tell them to put on that heavy resistance and go for it! Then you see some of your students putting on a tough resistance and pedaling at 60 rpm. That is not an interval. An interval is hard resistance with an increase in RPM. The students will need some guidance. That is why I always put in my fast leg drills in the beginning. I want my students to practice pedaling a little faster than they normally pedal. Then you just say, “Remember the fast leg drill? I want that leg speed, but at a higher resistance level. That is how you do an interval.”
Song 1, Handclap: Warmup, nice easy spin.
Song 2, Booty Shake: Find your resistance levels unique to each student 6/10, 7/10, 8/10. Resistance level 8 is your interval resistance.
Song 3, Roll Up: Use the song to practice lifting our cadence 10 rpm higher than we normally spin at. Remember, we are practicing our interval leg speed also.
Song 4, Oh My God: Tabata Practice.
How to execute the Tabata on a spin bike. Have the student use the brake on the bike. This is important, because we want to stop the bike completely during this interval set. Once the student has stopped the bike, have them put on their 8/10 resistance. Then, on the cue, you have everyone stand up. When you say “GO!”, they will use there body weight to get the pedals moving, then sit in with fast legs to finish the interval. When you say stop, they will apply the brakes to quickly stop pedaling for the 10 second rest. You do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.
Song 5, Going Home: Active Recover. Allow your students a break to fully recover. Stand on the later half of the songs chorus line so we can still keep our heart rate from dropping too quickly.
Song 6, Still Breathing: Seated sprints with a twist. We will gradually increase resistance and leg speed until we hit that 8 out of 10 sprint.
Song 7, Ain’t Giving up: Active Recovery.
Song 8, Naivety: Building up resistance into standing sprints for 30 seconds.
Song 9, This Is What You Came For: Active Recovery.
Song 10, We Are: Fast leg drill, but we do it at the 7/10 resistance level. Consider this the easiest sprinting song for the entire session. We do this to allow even more recovery before Tabata Death.
Song 11, When the Lights Go Down: Active Recovery
Song 12, Metallica: This is Tabata Death. You remind the students about what they practiced on Song 4, have them stop pedaling, put the resistance on 8. This is a different type of Tabata workout. When you say “GO!”, you will also call out how long the Tabata set is. I have built in some longer rests in there and some shorter Tabatas just so they can have enough energy to crush themselves with the last two Tabata intervals.
That’s it folks! I love this workout. I just played it last week and the music works great, the students are really working hard, and the Tabata Death was well received. Next week I will show you a workout that was inspired by The Sufferfest. A 35 minute climbing workout that focuses solely on lower cadence and strength development.