Ask the Expert: How to Teach Jumps

Renee asked about teaching jumps. Jumps can be controversial, because some programs obviously love them and they are a big part of their program, and others list them as part of contraindicated moves.

Hi Jennifer,

Can you give me some tips for how best to teach jumps? I have never been a fan or comfortable teaching them, don’t teach the crazy 2 count or “popcorn” jumps but use seated/standing climb alternates as my method. I need to improve the application of this movement as indoor members like them and good to put in when subbing. I just haven’t found the right rhythmic count or feel of music to best deliver these.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of “jumps,” at least in the traditional Spinning® sense of rhythmically coming in and out of the saddle  every 2 beat counts, especially for extended periods.

Did I used to do them? Yes, as a Spinning Master Instructor I taught them faithfully to new instructors at orientations and occasionally did some at conferences. But I also always put a caveat in there to use them sparingly, to not go too quickly, or do them for very long, and I always preached that instructors should stress quality over quantity.


  1. Like Byron, I don’t really use the word “jumps,” rather the word transitions. Transiting in and out of the saddle is an important skill, and the word “jump” itself implies more of a plyometric like move. It is important for indoor and outdoor cyclist to learn how to transition from seated to standing, and to know how and why one would on a bike.

    When teaching transitions, I try not to say “we’re doing ‘jumps.'” I coach more on the reasons to get in and out of the saddle, and give examples such as going over changes in terrain, gears, standing saddle breaks, or dynamic changes to accelerate.

    What I do love is that in other programs like Cycling Fusion’s and RealRyder, there is no coaching of jumps. You learn to make it real, and in fact, in both programs, their manuals state that it is contraindicated for instructors to teach. You have to think about what is real, and repeated “jumps” are not something you rhythmically do on the road. You always make a transition seated to standing for a reason…not for mere entertainment.

  2. Thanks for putting Jumps in perspective. It needs to happen every so often.

  3. If video is not possible, some cuing ideas please! What is really happening during those transitions? There is also a little bit more of a learning curve on a RealRyder, I think.

  4. Jumps…well, as a cyclist, I won’t even get out of the saddle unless it’s absolutely necessary so I don’t even cue when to sit or stand, leaving the choice up to the riders.

    If the profile suits, then I will remind them that they should be able to handle the climb in the saddle, if they have to stand then it’s too steep.

    Apart from that, I’ll generally spend 90% of a Spinning ride firmly anchored to the saddle!

  5. Video sounds like a good idea… Maybe Jennifer and I can put something together in the follow up article.

  6. Wow Byron thank you for the all the additional information.
    How about a little video demonstrating some of these appropriate techniques so we have the visual to make sure we are executing them correctly ourselves so as to model, detect and correct in our students. i think that would be really helpful and tie everything together.
    I am just so appreciative of this forum and the many professionals here to connect and learn from.

  7. Author

    Excellent discussion Bryon! I think I’ll turn it into its own article in case anyone might miss it if they don’t read the comments. You have some excellent points.

    I do everything you listed in your bullet points when I ride. I guess I don’t interpret them as “jumps” but rather as simply getting out of the saddle momentarily.

  8. While I cannot disagree with anything Jennifer has put forth, I do think there is another kind of jump.

    From my experience as an avid indoor and outdoor cyclist, there is actually a type of jump that is more of a transitional move, different than Jump #1 or Jump #2 which I agree are “real” cycling jumps.

    The transitional jump is where a rider moves from a seated position to a standing position or vice versa. This is very much a real “cycling” move that everyone does often. I executed the move many times this morning on my way to, during and from my early morning club ride:

    • I moved in and out of the saddle whenever I need to shift my weight off the saddle, when I needed a little more pedal leverage but yet it wasn’t a full on Jump #1
    • I also moved out of the saddle when I need to take a saddle break to give my hips, saddle area or quads a little breather
    • I moved out of the saddle when I need to stand up to see over the rider in front of me or to make myself a bit more visible to traffic while I continued to pedal.
    • I moved up out of the saddle while pedaling to lighten my wheels as I rolled over bumps, manhole covers and other little non-deadly obstructions
    • I move up out of the saddle while pedaling over little changes in grade, going slightly uphill (not actually a hill), like a shallow rise in the road, just to add a slightly bit of momentum to my speed to compensate for the slight grade
    • I also did popped up out of the saddle when I encountered a little slight head wind

    All of these “transitions” are part and parcel of every ride I have ever been on, except perhaps a few occasions where I was so wiped out and gutted that I could not stand (even if it meant my life) on a long hill climb many years ago.

    I happen to feel that the transitional jump is actually the true intent and spirit of the Spinning indoor jump movement. It is the pathway or connector between sitting and standing and is very much a part of what we do and what we should be coaching!

    I have seen jumps taught and executed by several master presenters (Jennifer included) as well as the “man” himself, and the thing that struck me about the movement was that the movement was not so much about the beginning and end, the number of pedal strokes, number of beats or strokes between the “up” and the “down” or beats per minute, its all about the middle!

    It is all about executing the transitional part between sitting and standing with grace, balance and precision. The transition from seated to standing and back to seated is the essence of the jump movement and the essence of what we should be teaching as instructors.

    In my mind it has a rhythmic quality but the rhythm is there to support the movement not the other way around.

    Focusing on the transitional part of the jump movement also makes the movement much more focused and mindful than knocking out lots of pop corn or rhythmic jumps to fill time and space. The focus of effort and mind on making the “transition” smooth, coordinated, and a seamless part of your ride transcends the physical realm of movement. It becomes a practice of mindfully observing your movement and ultimately refining that movement based on your observations.

    Outside on the road in group rides I often see uncoordinated and unbalanced executions of the transition from seated to standing and it’s all rooted in the same things that are listed as how not to perform a jump indoors.

    Over the years I have been able to identify someone in the pack in front of me that has issues transitioning from seated to standing. It only takes one trip out of the saddle from them to avail themselves…. Slight hill, bump or they decide to stretch their legs and move out of the saddle and as soon as the start to stand up they “weigh anchor”, lose their rhythm and lose the forward momentum, and quickly roll back into my front wheel! I forever mark them in my mind as someone NOT to follow in a pack. Or I mark them and know that when they stand up next time I am going to dart by them the second their anchor starts heading for the bottom toward the bottom of the sea.

    If you think about it, if someone can properly execute the transitional part of the jump, they in nearly all cases will execute the entire jump movement (seated flat-transition-standing) with grace and efficiency.

    I feel that the transitional part of the jump has been lost on a generation of instructors and their students. Somewhere along the line the message got lost, or buried in the more primal yet distracting aspects of the jump movement, the “up and down”, how many pedal strokes between each movement. If you consider that the transition is a part of all of the aforementioned types of jumps, it deserves more attention from instructors and students.

    Great posts like Jennifer’s can only help to highlight how to coach the jump, and to open up a healthy dialog on how we can as instructors help make this essential skill a healthy part of our profiles.

  9. Author

    You have always had a way with words Vivienne! 😉 Love the musician analogy!

    Yes, a little goes a long way. 5 or 6 of the first kind of cycling-specific jumps I discuss in the article will leave an indelible mark on your students they’ll remember all day, much more so than a 5 minute song of rhythmic 2-count jumps from beginning to end.

    If I remember that ECA correctly, Doug Katona also did a session called the Tao of Spinning; a session which left an indelible mark on me to this day. Did you go to that one too? I miss Doug!

  10. I have mixed feelings about *jumps*. I’ve received feedback from members that both I and *X* (another instructor and a nationally ranked mountain bike racer) “don’t do jumps”…….and *x* (who’s presumable way more fun than we are) does them all the time.

    Well, to a certain extent that’s true in that I don’t have folk popping and plopping for the length of a song in the name of JUMPS, so I dusted off a profile based on a Doug Katona workshop at ECA NY (where I seem to remember that I spanked myself with a pedal stroke drill workshop presented by a certain J. S. )…Anatomy of a Jump. If you’re an instructor you sometimes have to protect folk from their own worst selves, like it or not.

    The way I look at jumps is that a little goes a long way. They are to the cycling world what scales, arpeggios and Czerny-Germer studies are to musicians…..a chance to practise ONE element of a movement/song, under control and with no outside interferences overandoverandover again……until you got it RITE!! In the context of cycling, it’s the transition out of and back to the saddle. As many…..or as few… you can do with Good Form so’s not to practise in bad habits.

    I reckon Big X and I are seen to be lame azz instructors as compared to little x… my case it’s because my “jumps” class is too hard.

  11. Awesome! Thanks for this. I’m a STAR 3 Spinning instructor, and I use rhythmic jumping sporadically…because my students like it. But I make them do a good endurance ride the class before. 😀 This was great to not only reinforce that I’m teaching jumps correctly (I always, always say quality over quantity before and during a series of jumps) but it’s given me some food for thought on tweaking how I incorporate jumps into my profiles. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom. 🙂

  12. thanks jennifer for the follow up on this. i now have an action plan for practicing on myself for what i am expecting and delivering.

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