Sample Class: Cycle Diversion

Keep participants fully engaged and coach them to discover their thresholds with this empowering, segmented ride.

By Amy Dixon
Feb 20, 2015

You spend so much time making playlists and designing your indoor cycling classes, but there are days when the creativity doesn’t flow or you’re asked to sub last minute. The following class not only demonstrates the power of cuing and careful drill selection; it also helps you multitask. For example, mix and match this ride by taking one stage and adding it to a preexisting class. Other options: Use two of the stages for 30-minute classes, or use all three for a complete ride.

Cycle Diversion Details

TOTAL TIME: ~1 hour
FORMAT: indoor cycling cross-training (climbing, tempo riding, competitive racing, timed intervals)
EQUIPMENT: indoor bicycles
MUSIC: suggestions offered (see chart)

Easy: warm-up/cool down; rating of perceived exertion (RPE): 0–5; heart rate reserve (HRR): 50%–65%
Moderate: aerobic activity; RPE 6–7; HRR 65%–80%
Hard: aerobic/anaerobic activity; RPE 7–8; HRR 80%-90%
Breathless: maximum effort; RPE 8–9; HRR 85%–95%
Source: Schwinn® Cycling Certification Manual.

Note: Ask the following three questions continually throughout class to ensure participants know the expectations for each stage, enabling them to give their best effort.

  • What’s the goal?
  • How long is the drill?
  • How should it feel?

Stage 1: Warm-Up/Climb (~18 minutes)

Add gear and slowly increase intensity. Allow participants to feel the difference between easy and moderate-intensity zones. When participants begin to climb the first hill, it’s a perfect time to use a dissociative coaching cue that incorporates mental imagery, engages attendees and allows them to push harder for longer (see chart for more details).

Here is a sample cue: “You’re riding on a long stretch of flat road looking for your VIP riding partner, who is at the top of the hill. Along the way you encounter three riders you must pass before reaching your VIP partner. As you engage each rider, the terrain gets steeper and challenges your strength. You’ve passed the first two riders, but the third one is farther ahead so you have to sprint in order to pass him. Once you get to the top, your VIP riding partner is waiting to be picked up.”

Stage 2: Tempo Riding/Climb (~12 minutes)

This stage tests endurance, and riders use pace and gear to build strength. The intensity is tough enough that participants are on the edge of breathless during the entire work period. Finding the right gear is a process of trial and error. As a coach, you’ll indicate the cadence (65–75 revolutions per minute, or rpm) and cue riders to find the perfect gear that allows them to get into their rhythm and connect to the ride with power and intensity. Use associative coaching cues during this tempo ride to keep participants present and aware of their breathing, heart rates and muscular endurance.

3:24warm-up/seated flat 80–100easy moderate1:00 1:24“This Is How We Do,” Katy Perry

  • 3 stages of work
  • warm-up cues, starting at feet and moving up the body, and breathing cues
  • “Find a perfect intensity range for easy and moderate.”
3:33combo climb
hard moderate
hard moderate
“Blame” (featuring John Newman), Calvin Harris

  • “Use the hill to connect with music, breath and mind.”
  • Breathing will change to match intensity.
7:56combo flat
2:00 moderate
2:00 hard
“Rainy Dayz,”Thunderpuss Club Mix, Mary J Blige

  • “The flat road leads into a hill; you pass three riders to pick up your VIP riding partner.”
  • “Can you hold your rpm on this flat?”
4:03seated hill
“SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake

  • “Can you progressively build your intensity on this hill?”
  • “As you climb this hill, imagine you are leading a pack of 20 riders; now keep your lead.”
3:29combo hill
“Black Widow” (featuring Rita Ora), Iggy Azalea

  • “Find a hard enough effort that your legs and lungs let you know.”
  • “Can you truly hold hard without crossing the line into breathlessness?”
5:38seated hill
edge of breathless
“We Come We Rave We Love,” Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso

  • “Can you push harder and increase your leg speed to get to the top of the hill?”
  • “Find the edge of breathless and hold on to it.”
3:36combo flat/recovery
easy/moderateN/A“Ghost,” Ella Henderson

  • “Connect with the power and intensity.”
  • Sit and stand on verse and chorus.
breathlessstacked intervals
with varying
2 rounds
“Mash Together,” DJ Crazy J Rodriguez
“Centuries,” Fall Out Boy
“Raise Your Glass,” Pink

  • “Connect with the power and intensity.”
  • “Push hard enough in each interval that you need a recovery.”
3:35combo flat/recovery
easy/moderaten/a“Another One Bites The Dust,” Queen

  • “Come out of this flat refreshed and ready to take on the next set of intervals.”
breathless8 rounds
30 seconds/
30-second recovery
“Wild Thing,” Tone-Loc
“Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

  • “Can you match or beat your highest intensity on each breathless push?”
  • “Find a hard enough intensity that you are saying to yourself: ‘Take me breathless
    or take me home.’”
4:42seated flat
stretching off the bike
easyn/a“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran

  • recovery and dynamic stretching
  • focus on breathing

Stage 3: Timed Stacked Intervals/Cool-Down
(~26 minutes)

The stacked intervals portion includes an extensive set of breathless work that decreases in time from set to set, with variations in recovery length (see chart). Encourage participants to visualize that they are riding around a track and they have to give their maximum effort in order to earn a recovery.

Sample cue: “We made it to the top of the hill, and we have intense intervals
ahead during this last stage. Each interval will have half the recovery time. Your goal is to be present and drain the tank. Keep in mind you will receive approximately a 3-minute active recovery when you finish each set.”

Note: Increasing gear allows participants to feel the intensity protocol needed for each set. Cadence control is crucial here.

Finally, as you transition from work to recovery, take a few minutes on the bike to slow heart rates down, and spend at least 3-5 minutes off the bike leading static stretches for the hamstrings, quadriceps, hips/glutes, shoulders, chest and calves.

3:24warm-up/seated flat 80-100easy moderate1:00 1:24“This Is How We Do,” Katy Perry

  • 3 stages of work
  • warm-up cues, starting at feet and moving up the body, and breathing cues
  • “Find a perfect intensity range for easy and moderate.”
3:33combo climb
hard moderate
hard moderate
“Blame” (featuring John Newman), Calvin Harris

  • “Use the hill to connect with music, breath and mind.”
  • Breathing will

    Amy Dixon

    Amy Dixon is the group fitness manager for Equinox in Santa Monica, California, and is the official spokesperson for WomenÔÇÖs Health magazine. She holds a degree in exercise science and has been in the fitness industry for more than 15 years. Amy is also a fitness DVD star and choreographer, a BOSU®, Schwinn® Cycling, Gymstick and GRAVITY® master trainer, and the writer and former director of a wellness program established for the national organization Senior Friends.
    Certification: AFAA

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