In every class, you are either working on endurance, sprinting or a combination of both. This is totally key for a well-rounded fitness plan and essential to my training as I enter my second racing season after seven years away from the race track.
In outdoor cycling, there are many types of races, some endurance-based and some sprint-based. While I always thought of myself as a sprinter, it turns out 16 years of teaching indoor cycling helped me build solid endurance so I’ve started to race both disciplines!
Indoor cycling has always helped me train for the outdoor track so if you want to take advantage of the new spring weather, here’s how to apply what we do in class to your rides outside.
Our Endurance classes are about sustaining a moderately challenging intensity for a long duration of time. They help develop your ability to adapt to the fatigue of a consistent repetitive movement so that you can make it past an hour or more on the bike.
Threshold Classes = Jump on your local trail or park and push a challenging 45-60 minute ride
These classes will help you become more efficient through the flats and hills while feeling the fun of a challenging ride without tanking yourself. Playing with cadence and resistance pairings while maintaining HRZ 3 also teaches us to manage our intensity and build stamina at a challenging heart rate.
Threshold and Low Impact classes = That 100-mile benefit ride you’ve been thinking of doing
Maintaining more efficient range of cadences between 80-95 consistently at moderate intensity for long periods of time will improve endurance. During Endurance HRZ 2 and Low Impact classes, play with your resistance to keep your cadence cued at a comfortable to moderately-challenging resistance. This will afford you the ability to manage sustained efforts that would make that 100-mile ride much more attainable.
Sprints are relatively short in nature and require ample recovery in between. These require holding onto a near max to max effort for a specified distance or time. Within the sprint-oriented classes, you will see certain drills that directly correlate to moments in racing.
Threshold, Max Capacity and HIIT classes = Push the limits on what you thought possible!
HRZ 4 Threshold classes develop your ability to push incredibly hard without completely expending your energy in order to recover to do it again. Max Capacity classes build on that to work even harder (expending everything) but for a shorter time (15-30 seconds). These rides strengthen your heart, increase your tolerance for high intensity and help you hold your sprint longer. Below are three drills that you will see in various classes:
Standing Start Sprints
From a dead stop, driving up cadence against significant resistance for a very short burst of power output (roughly 15 seconds). These drills improve the neuromuscular ability to transfer effort into explosive power. Many Max Capacity classes from 2017 have Standing Start Sprints. Crank it Up rides number four and six also include these. It’s fun to see those massive spikes in output!
In HIIT rides when we increase resistance, cadence (or both) and then push through for a specified amount of time (30-60 seconds), we are producing the kind of intensity required to chase down another rider who may seem out of reach. For example, it took a sustained burst of power for me to finally beat my rival early this racing season.
Working on the higher end of cadence (in a controlled manner) with lower resistances develops muscle memory for rapid-fire contractions that, when coupled with strength training (like my Beyond the Ride Lower Body Strength workout – find this workout using the Peloton App) will further benefit your ability to produce high-power sprints. These drills (like in many warm-ups when we take cadence over 100) really help with work efficiency.
Whether or not you ever compete athletically, you truly are training no matter what type of class you take. From 80’s rock to any Heart Rate or Power Zone class, you are training. All of these elements exist in nearly every class you take. The moral of the story is always, “train your weakness”. You never know, it could end up being your strength!