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Program Design: A Rockin’ Indoor Cycling Class

by Krista Popowych, BHK on Oct 11, 2017

Many indoor cycling instructors are not sure of the best way to combine strength and cycling without compromising either component. Rock and Ride provides the perfect mix of both while infusing a little fun with rock ’n’ roll music. This class is an ideal introduction for new riders because, instead of having to “suffer” through 60 minutes on an uncomfortable saddle, they get to hop off at the midpoint for strength work.

One challenge to overcome in this format is footwear. If your riders are wearing cycling shoes, they may find it difficult to stand on a hardwood floor. Have them either switch shoes, which isn’t ideal, or stand on an exercise mat, which provides cushion and a more even surface.

Try these five cycling drills with 5-minute strength segments for a workout that combines cardio (the ride) and resistance training (the rock).

Rock and Ride Details

Total time: ~1 hour

Format: indoor cycling (mixed terrain)

Goal/emphasis: cardiovascular and strength training

Equipment needed: indoor cycling bikes and dumbbells

Music: Choose a variety of rock ’n’ roll songs. To keep your playlist current, look for remixes of your favorite ’80s rock songs. Aim for 135 beats per minute; cadence: under 110 revolutions per minute.

Preworkout: Take time to set up the room. Position the bikes so that each rider has a clear view of you and enough space beside the bike to stand and lunge forward and backward. Place dumbbells on the floor in front of the bikes. If moving weights to the cycling room is not realistic, use resistance bands or do body-weight training.

Ensure that everyone is set up correctly on his or her bike. Go over the format and explain how the transitions will work. If the bikes are equipped with computers, review the key metrics and suggest that riders compare their averages in the first 20 minutes with those in the second half. Keep the energy upbeat and welcoming.

Warmup (5–6 minutes)

Terrain: flat road

  • Start with a cadence of ~85–95 rpm and ask riders to self-select a light resistance.
  • Ask them to maintain their cadence but slightly increase resistance every minute. The end goal is moderate resistance.
  • Emphasize proper pedaling technique. Cue riders to “ride the square” and focus on different stages of the pedal stroke—push forward, push down, pull back and pull up.
  • Include some easy upper-body shoulder rolls or lifts.

Drill #1: The Waterfall

Terrain: flat road

Time: 5 minutes

  • Ask participants to select a resistance/gear they can maintain at 60 rpm.
  • Every 15 seconds, increase cadence in increments of 10 (70, 80, 90, etc.). Hold at 105–110 rpm for 30 seconds.
  • Recover for 30 seconds and repeat, starting at the initial gear (adjust as necessary).
  • Fully recover for 1 minute at baseline intensity.

Drill #2: 4-3-2-1 and Back Again

Terrain: mixed

Time: 5 minutes

  • Instruct class to find a moderate-to-hard standing gear.
  • Do a standing climb for 40 seconds. Keep this gear.
  • Transition immediately into a 30-second seated climb.
  • Return to a 20-second standing climb, and then transition to a 10-second seated climb.
  • Recover for 20 seconds.
  • Return to a standing climb for 30 seconds, and then finish with a 40-second seated climb.
  • Fully recover at baseline intensity for 1–2 minutes.

Drill #3: Chorus Connection

Terrain: hills

Song: “Thunderstruck,” by AC/DC

Time: 4:52

  • Start at a moderate-to-somewhat-hard resistance.
  • When you hear the first “thunder,” cue riders to transition into a climb. The next time it plays, cue riders to sit. Repeat each time you hear the word “thunder.”
  • Repeat throughout the chorus. Change resistance as needed to maintain proper climbing technique.

Transition off bike: Gradually slow down pedaling, come to a stop and ask participants to dismount. Tell them to note their average power, distance or calorie expenditure as they pick up dumbbells and stand beside the bikes (or in a designated area).

Resistance Training

Time: 45–50 seconds per exercise

Recovery/transition: 10–15 seconds

Sets two (one mid-ride and one after the second cardio segment)

Instructing tip: Include combination movements to keep heart rates slightly elevated.

Regression: Opt for just the upper-body or lower-body move.

For drills 4 and 5 and a cooldown, see “Sample Class: Rock and Ride!” in the online IDEA Library or in the September 2017 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 15, Issue 11

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About the Author

Krista Popowych, BHK

Krista Popowych, BHK IDEA Author/Presenter

Krista Popowych, B.HKin, has been inspiring fitness leaders, trainers and managers for over two decades with her motivating and practical sessions. As the 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year award winner and a two-time Can-Fit-Pro Canadian Fitness Presenter of the Year, Krista has shown an outstanding commitment to fitness and truly walks the talk. As an international trainer and education consultant for Keiser® and JumpSport®, TV personality, DVD creator and talent, past program director, published author, professional speaker and Adidas 3-stripe team sponsored, Krista spreads her passion for fitness around the globe. Krista’s goal has always been to inspire others through education and movement. Her energy, mega-watt smile, creative sessions and real-life approach to instructing make her a highly sought after presenter and educator!