Ask The Expert: What is a Surge vs an Attack?

I have just started teaching spinning classes and am wondering if you could help explain what is meant by “attack” and “surge” and are they different. I believe “attack” would be used when we increase resistance and/or pick up speed to overcome a difficult part of the ride, but am not sure about “surge.”


This is a great question, Laura. Many new instructors are confused by these terms, so thank you for the opportunity to clarify them.

In short, it’s a matter of intensity—all attacks are surges, but not all surges are attacks!

Let’s start with a surge.


  1. Really enjoyed reading this article and has now given me a better understanding. My favourite position is attacking and this makes it even more exciting. Enjoyed the clips also! I certainly will use correct terminology from here on in. But just one question, do we always have to surge before attacking?

  2. Thanks again Jennifer for your expertise! I’ve often used both terms, so this is a great resource to keep for reference as well as just give more ideas on how to structure & change up profiles.

  3. Thank you for the easy to read and understand article! So helpful with the simple details and descriptions that you provided – I appreciate it!

    Now, I find that my riders will never really do an attack as it is performed by the elites or described above…so I have been cuing things like…”give me more energy than a standing run..”, “…think of the standing attack as a seated surge..intense and hard to maintain..”

    I usually amp up the resistance before at a moderate effort to keep it slightly heavier for safety reasons…

    1. Author

      you are both welcome!

      Deanne, I didn’t want to make this article too long, but I have a plan for another article JUST on attacks, to help describe them in a way that your riders know exactly what to do when you say “ATTACK!”

      You are correct to amp up the resistance, since surging out of the saddle to “attack” requires more resistance than riding seated. It’s both a safety and a practical requirement.

  4. Love this and I really appreciate the ideas on cues. I love articles like this that start ideas simmering in my brain for a future profile/ride. Thank you!

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