Class Profile: The Ultimate HIIT—Teaching with Perceived Exertion

I call this The Ultimate HIIT profile because, well, that’s what it is! It includes some of the more important durations for intervals so they can be compared to each other.

The cueing in this profile is extensive for that very reason—it provides you with the ammunition you will need to guide riders to relate each interval and to make mental notes of what they are feeling.

Ask your riders to take what they learn in this profile and apply it to other classes they attend.

Caution: This is a very hard class, but, because it has the proper amount of recovery in between hard efforts, it is very doable by most relatively fit people. Obviously, the more fit you are, the harder you can push during the intervals. But even less fit riders can do the 3-minute estimate, and then back off slightly for some of the other higher-intensity intervals and get a lot out of the workout. 

I have also written a version of this profile based on using the 3-minute efforts to estimate FTP, and then using that as a basis for coaching riders on how much power they should aim for in the other intervals. If you teach with power and already have that profile, I still recommend you print this one as it goes even deeper into coaching with perceived exertion. Having both of them as guides will help improve your coaching and make you a better instructor! Here is the link for that profile. 

RPE Chart

At ICA, we use the RPE chart below. You should be aware that not every RPE chart is the same. If your studio has one that is a little different, by all means, use the chart your riders are familiar with. You can easily modify the profile to use the numbers and descriptions that your riders are used to.

Personally, I rarely use the RPE numbers except to occasionally refer to them as a benchmark for a specific outcome. For example, stating that the 5-minute effort in this profile is a 7 out of 10 or that the sprint is a 10 out of 10. For most of my coaching, however, I use the verbal descriptions of perceived exertion (as opposed to the RATE of perceived exertion). I believe it is far more understandable for most riders to use descriptions rather than numbers, especially if those numbers can vary from one facility or instructor to another.


  1. At our studio if we play more than two pieces without lyrics we get CRUSHED by negative feedback. Even if it is a very well taught Power class using metrics and a plan to follow. does anyone else still experience this? I have been teaching for over 17 years and I love to teach to music of all genres but it is different at the studio I am in now.

    1. Author

      yikes! Music wise, sometimes you have to give them more of what they want, but you’d be surprised what you can teach them to like. I had a rider last year in one of my winter training programs who likes current popular songs with lyrics more than others, so for her, I started using more of them. I’d mix it up, as there were others who preferred my other style songs. I use a little of everything. She knows I try to make everyone happy. When I’ve got one of her favorites in there, right before it starts I’ll point to her and say, “Karen, this one’s for you!”

      Are you teaching in more than one studio or just there?

  2. I am trying to find the song for #6 in iTunes Burnin’ (remixed sound version) Carl Downing but can’t find it – any hints?

    Thank you!

  3. where is the profile for this class

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