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: