Coaching Resistance, Part 2: How to inspire students to select the resistance to reach the objective you set

Part 1 of this series on cueing resistance described how to establish a baseline resistance for your warm-up so that your riders always begin with some resistance on their bikes, even though it is an easier effort. By establishing this baseline, you instill in your students the understanding that there is no time when they should ride with no resistance on the bike. It also provides a foundation for you to return to for recoveries mid-class, or during the cool-down at the end of class. This article, Part 2, will discuss the method of cueing resistance that best encourages students to find the amount of resistance that they personally can take on to meet the goals that you set for that segment of the road. This empowers students much more than simply entreating them to “turn it up” all the time. Part 2 also gives some general guidelines for adding resistance. Part 3 will provide a wide variety of creative cueing so that you can expand your coaching vocabulary for adding resistance, whether on a flat or a climb.

I believe the best way to cue resistance is to teach your students about the relationship between cadence and resistance and their effect on intensity. For every intensity that you desire, there is a multitude of combinations of cadence and resistance that will bring your riders to that heart rate or that perceived exertion. For example, you can ride at your lactate threshold (PE of “hard”) at a high cadence and low resistance, simulating a fast flat road in a lower gear, or you can achieve the same intensity, right at threshold, on a steep climb at 65 rpm at a much higher resistance. There are infinite combinations of C and R in between. It is up to you, the instructor, to provide the description of the road and what cadence (or cadence range) you want them to ride at, and the intensity at which they should be riding.

Intensity can be measured by heart rate or perceived exertion. Both are beneficial, but I believe the combination of the two not only optimizes a rider’s potential but also greatly increases their understanding of their bodies and how they react to certain cadences and resistances/gears. Of course power is the gold standard for measuring intensity, but for now, I’ll focus on heart rate and perceived exertion.

This is the equation you must teach your students:

1 Comment

  1. Just a little more info…..
    If you have Keiser bikes with gears, the same principle of C X R = I can be applied. Just have them find the gear that works for them. As I mentioned in my last article, the gears don’t click into place, so if needed you can fine-tune it somewhere between two gears (such as between gear 10 and 11) to find a resistance that brings you to a certain intensity at a given cadence.

    If you have power, please read the power articles (under the Biomechanics and Power category) but the equation would be C X R = P (which is another way of looking at the true power equation of F X V = P (force X velocity = power).

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