How to Coach Resistance in Your Indoor Cycling Class, Part 4

In part 3 of this series on cueing resistance we discussed how to establish a baseline resistance for your warm-up so that your riders always begin with some resistance on their bikes. By establishing this baseline, you instill in your students the understanding that there is no instance when they would ride with zero resistance on the bike. This baseline also provides a foundation to return to during full recoveries mid-class or during the cool-down.

In this article, part 4, I get to the meat of cueing resistance in a way that encourages students to find the amount of load or gear that they personally can take on to meet the goals you’ve set for that segment of your profile. This approach empowers students much more than simply entreating them to “turn it up” all the time. We coach this by teaching them a vital equation. I also give you some cueing tips that will help your riders understand this critical relationship.

The best way to cue resistance is to teach your students about the relationship between cadence and resistance, and their combined effect on intensity. For every intensity that you desire—whether you prescribe it as perceived exertion, heart rate, or a power output—there is a multitude of combinations of cadence and resistance that will bring your riders to that effort level.

For example, you can ride at your anaerobic/lactate threshold (a perceived exertion of “hard”) at a high cadence of 100 rpm and low resistance, simulating a fast flat road in a lower gear, or you can achieve the same intensity/output on a steep climb at 60 rpm at a much higher resistance. In between those two, there are many combinations of cadence and resistance to achieve the same output. It is up to you, the instructor, to provide the cadence (or cadence range), the intensity at which they should be riding, and, if appropriate for the profile, a visual of the road they are on. (Not all efforts have to be based on an outdoor visual.)

The most vital equation 

In part 5, the final chapter in this series on coaching resistance, I’ll explore some ways to manipulate the variables and give you even more coaching cues so that you’ll never run out of ways to inspire your riders to take on new challenges.


For your review:

How to Coach Resistance in Your Indoor Cycling Class, Part 1

How to Coach Resistance in Your Indoor Cycling Class, Part 2

How to Coach Resistance in Your Indoor Cycling Class, Part 3


*Stay tuned for an upcoming series this summer on teaching to the beat of the music where rpm = bpm.


  1. Thanks for the great series!!
    In the 3rd paragraph under the “Intensity” it reads like there should be a couple links to articles on using power but I think those links are missing.


  2. “dial in small amounts of resistance to find that place that challenges you but doesn’t spit you out” Love this. We did VO2 Max intervals at different RPMs and my riders were amazed at how even though the end results (power) was the same the effort felt harder at different RPMs. Great educational moment for them.

  3. Absolutely great article Jennifer thank you for publishing this.

    1. Author

      Thanks John. I’ve taught this in workshops for years and have hinted at it in many articles, but this is the first time I’ve gone this in-depth into using this equation like this. I’ve found that it is a huge lightbulb moment for both instructors and students!

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