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Sample Class: Rock and Ride!

Combine indoor cycling with resistance training off the bike.

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. One song is provided here as a syncing example. Aim for 135 beats per minute; cadence: under 110 rpm.

Preworkout: Take time to set up the room. Position the bikes so that each rider has a clear view of you and has 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 them 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)
Include combination movements to keep heart rates slightly elevated. Regres-sion: Opt for just the upper-body or lower- body move.

  • Begin with basic squats, weights at sides. Optional add-on: biceps curls.
  • Transition to a reverse fly. Lean slightly forward, knees soft, arms at sides, and contract through the midback as you lift the dumbbells. Add an alternating leg extension.
  • Do an alternating lunge with shoulder press. If this is not feasible owing to space constraints, footwear or balance issues, maintain a stationary lunge or squat.
  • Perform a sumo squat with overhead triceps extension. Lower and lift, coordinating the movements, in a wide squat position. Hold one or both weights overhead for the press.
  • Stand behind the bike, a hand on each side of the saddle, and do a pushup. Lower the chest to the seat and push away, keeping arms close to the body. Vary the tempo to add variety and challenge. Finish with an isometric hold for 15 seconds.

Transition: Put down the dumbbells and get back on the bike. Since riders have kept their heart rates up during the strength segment, there’s no need to warm up again. Quickly start the next drill.

Drill #4: The Power Shift

Terrain: flat
Time: 10 minutes
Have riders self-select a moderate starting gear and cadence. Each stage consists of 3 sets:

  • 1: Increase resistance every 30 seconds. Maintain cadence; recover for 15 seconds.
  • 2: Next 30 seconds, increase resistance and cadence by 5–10 rpm; recover. Note the highest power output.
  • 3: For the final 30 seconds, increase power beyond the highest achieved in stage 2.
  • Recover for 1 minute between stages and repeat 2×.

Drill #5: Catch Me If You Can

Terrain: flat (a 2-minute power burst for 2 sets)
Time: 5 minutes

  • Gear up/increase resistance until it feels hard.
  • Lift and attack out of the saddle to get the cadence and intensity up, and then sit and pedal hard for 2 minutes.
  • Imagine racing to the finish line.
  • Recover for 1 minute; repeat.

Final transition: Slow down and carefully transition off bike. Repeat the strength-training segment.

Cooldown and Stretch (5 minutes)

Check in with class and provide a final wrap-up. Stretch off the bike, being sure to include all major muscle groups.


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Krista Popowych

Krista Popowych inspires fitness leaders, trainers and managers around the globe with her motivating sessions. She is the 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and a three-time (2016, 2008, 2003) canfitpro Canadian Fitness Presenter of the YearShe is Keiser’s global director of education, as well as a Balanced Body® master trainer, JumpSport® consultant, DVD creator, published writer, Adidas-sponsored fit pro and IDEA Group Fitness Committee member.

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