Field tests are very important training sessions in your indoor cycling classes because they allow you to set a personalized benchmark of effort much more specifically than any kind of chart or formula. This is true for both heart rate and power, and it also helps your students understand on an intimate level the type of exertion that is necessary and exactly how it should feel.
Hopefully as an ICA member you’ve already printed out the Field Test Master Class. It is a cornerstone of what we believe to be effective coaching.
There is no denying that field tests (and their cousin, time trials) are challenging. They require a lot of both intrinsic and extrinsic coaching to keep your riders powered up for the entire 20 minutes. Your music selections will be important to help drive your riders to give their all. I find that choosing my field test and time trial songs is sometimes one of my bigger challenges. When I travel to present my Mastering the Art and Science of Heart Rate Training workshop, I get asked a lot about suitable music choices. Instructors need ideas for field test songs!
In my field test profile above, I’ve provided 60 different song suggestions. My own preference is for longer (7- to 10-minute), electronic or downtempo tracks, but it can be a challenge to find music in those genres at the necessary bpm of 85 to 100 that have enough energy. We’ve been asked by instructors for more suggestions of the rock and alternative genres. These tend to be shorter, usually less than five minutes. If you’re going to use these genres, for best results you’ll want to weave them together using MixMeister.
With that in mind, Tom Scotto and I have searched our playlists for some of our favorite field test/time trial songs and put them into a spreadsheet for you. I’ve included some of the songs from the field test master class (linked to above) but after I listened to those songs, I left a few out as they weren’t quite as high energy as we need. But now you have them all in one place; the attached file has 72 songs.
Here is the criteria for a field test or time trial song:
- 85–100 bpm
- high, consistent energy
- driving (or at least rhythmic) beat, but this isn’t a sprint!
Remember, a field test is a sustained output for the entire duration; you aren’t ebbing and flowing to the musical peaks like you might do with different efforts. That doesn’t mean the music can’t contain some breaks—it all comes down to how you coach it. But for best results, you want a strong and consistent rhythm throughout. Downtempo songs sometimes lack a little bit of energy but make up for it in their ability to allow intense focus on pedal stroke, rhythm, and breathing. They work well for those who can rely more on intrinsic motivation (if you’ve trained them that way). But for those who really need extrinsic (external, in-your-face) motivation, you’ll probably prefer the more high-energy rock, alternative, or hip-hop songs.
As usual, if you have any suggestions to add, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!
I’ve got this download as both a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet.