As a cycling instructor who loves learning and honing my skills, I use various online forums to get class and music ideas, learn about new concepts and simply keep up to date with the indoor cycling world.
There is a subject that came up twice in the recent discussions and that is the instructors’ choice of names they use for certain drills.
I am all for creativity and making your classes your own. Creating your own teaching style makes you unique which usually builds a loyal following where you teach.
If you can hear a big BUT coming, you are right.
When it comes to names for different riding positions or drills we all learn the national or universal standards. If I say to my class: Let’s get out of the saddle/Let’s stand up! They will know what I mean. If I cover a class at a different gym and say it, everyone knows what I mean. If I go to a class in New Zealand and hear it – I will get my butt out of the saddle.
My point is, ‘stand up’ means stand up. If you are fed up with saying it 150 times a day, then be creative. Raise up! Lift your bum out of the saddle!
What I am not OK with is an instructor who thinks it’s fine if the say ‘sit down’ when they mean ‘stand up’.
So was I. There are standard terms that anyone using a gym regularly (including free weight training or ANY type of classes) will be familiar with. Or if they hear one of those terms they can easily google them and educate themselves. Let me give you some examples.
A ladder workout is a method of strength and sports training where you perform one or more exercises with an ascending and descending repetition pattern.
It is therefore 1,2,3,4,.. or …,4,3,2,1 where the numbers stand for ‘steps’ which in indoor cycling can be an increase/decrease in time, intensity, cadence etc.
I usually do ascending ladders so we climb up then we jump down back to the starting point.
Doubling up the ladder so we go up then come down 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 or go down then come up: 5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5.
These terms are clearly defined and are widely used in personal training courses too. That means that if I have a new rider who is used to weight training and I tell them we are going to do a pyramid, they should feel like they know exactly what I mean.
Is it OK for me to call a ladder a stepper? Sure.
Is it OK to call a ladder a pyramid? Not really, because it is not.
Sprint is an explosive effort that is fully anaerobic. In words of others it is ‘a burst of speed at any point during a long race, as near the finish line’; ‘a brief spell of great activity’.
If you are watching any sports broadcast: running, cycling, rowing etc and you hear that a sprint is coming up, do you know what to expect? Yes. Do you think it’s going to be a few minutes long? Do you go to put the kettle on so you can have a coffee and a sandwich while watching it?
Usain takes less than 10 seconds to complete his. There is a reason for it. For an explosive, maximal effort you do not use oxygen for energy as it’s not efficient enough for the duration of the effort. You get to use whatever glycogen is stored in your muscles and that doesn’t last long. For most of us average folk it will last about 10 seconds.
Hence if I am told that a ‘sprint’ is coming and it will be 60 seconds long then I know it is not a sprint.
In that case tell your riders it’s a race or use whatever other term. They either need to keep a certain RPM range or a Watt-rate, or in absence of all data go as hard as they can hold FOR THE DURATION.
Someone said to me they use the term ‘sprint’ as a variation of a ‘fast interval’. What do you say when you want your riders to do an actual sprint then?
MAJOR sprint/race/go as hard as you can interval ALERT!!!
If I take a class and I am told a sprint is coming up, I load the resistance up and brace myself but I MUST KNOW THE DURATION. My 6 seconds sprint will be much more powerful than 15 seconds one.
You must always, always give the length. You cannot ask someone to go all out without telling them AT THE START for how long: 6, 30 or 90 sec or 2min?
It’s extremely frustrating and downright infuriating when you are told a sprint is coming and then it’s 3,2,1 go! And 30 seconds in you still hear KEEP GOING!I want to scream back: FOR HOW LONG?!
As most instructors (including myself) use songs for these intervals that have changes in music (using the chorus to go hard) they assume their riders know the song too but they shouldn’t. You teach a few classes a day, your riders take your class once a week.
Please understand I am not trying to be a PURIST or a term police but you will appreciate that whether it’s taking a cycling class for the first time or just trying out a new instructor or coming to your regular class and finding a cover, the music is loud, the microphone doesn’t always work 100% so at least the standard terminology should be a constant.
It makes it easier for everyone 😊