Quick Profile: Strength Endurance Hill Repeats

Pedaling at lower cadences with higher resistance develops leg strength the same way lifting a heavier weight in the gym increases muscular strength. But just like you have to be careful about how much weight you lift in the gym, especially if you have any joint issues, you must be careful with resistance on a stationary bike. This type of high-resistance cycling training is often referred to as strength endurance.

Outdoors, cyclists are encouraged to climb at cadences above 70 rpm, but that depends entirely on the gearing on your bike, the steepness of the hill, and, of course, your fitness. You may be in your lowest gear and encounter a grade that requires you to pedal slower, sometimes even below 60 rpm. If this happened too often, I would suggest you install lower gears on the bike. In fact, that’s something I did a few years ago on my own bike and my knees have been much happier! (I live high in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by long, hard climbs.)

Still, it’s not unreasonable or dangerous to pedal slowly on really tough grades, as some programs will have you believe. It’s only “dangerous” if you go TOO slow due to massive resistance, overdo it, ride with poor form, don’t prepare progressively for high resistance, or if you ignore injuries or weaknesses that would preclude you from it. You can use a low-cadence, high-resistance profile as a training session to focus on leg strengthening. Just don’t do it often or for extended periods—maybe once or twice a month, and only when you have participants who you know have been riding long enough with good form and have adequate leg strength.

Just know that some non-cyclist participants who don’t tend to train with enough resistance might be at risk. You’ll need to provide modifications for those in your class who have any injuries or weaknesses.

What is “too slow”? That’s one of those gray-area questions, as it always depends on the person. While I would still use 60 rpm as the average cadence floor for most indoor riders most of the time, it’s OK to occasionally ride in the mid-50s rpm for stronger, more seasoned riders.

This is how I introduce a strength endurance profile:


  1. I used this profile for a 45 minute class of newer riders and veteran riders. I went safe and traded out the songs with a rpm lower than 60 since the class frequently gets brand new riders, but I kept to the integrity and purpose of the ride. Offering a 10-rpm range allowed each rider to appropriately challenge themselves.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the tip offered in the newer 60 minute profiles on how to modify for shorter classes. Figuring out how to cut a profile down without losing the best segments takes a lot more time than you would imagine.

    I made some changes in songs that I am very excited to share. First, I reordered the hill songs to decrease in cadence (127-120 bpm), I switched out the warm up song (This Love) for Chaser by Nick Tangorra (90 bpm). I used Liberate (127 bpm) by Eric Prydz for the 1st hill. The 2nd hill was Outside – Oliver Helden Remix (126 bpm) by Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding. I kept Feel the Rush (123 bpm) by Shaggy and used it for Hill #3. All Good (120 bpm) by Zeroleen was the 4th hill. I used it as the 8 count jumps and people loved it!! (FYI I cued seated/standing climbs for the newer riders who ended up preferring the jumps!). My fifth and final hill was Coco-Extended Mix (120 bpm) by Black Caviar, u.n.i. As it is an explicit song, I warned riders ahead of time. No one was bothered by it because they were captivated by the song as well.

    I loved the advice provided during the cool-down and stretch. Our next class will be a cadence ladder.


    1. Author

      I love your playlist, thank you for sharing! And I’m so glad you modified it to meet the needs of your riders. That’s exactly what I love to hear!

  2. I did a 30 minute version of this profile and my class LOVED IT! I changed the music to mix it up. I told them that I have a 60 minute ride and they were asking me when I was going to use it so that they would be sure to get to class! Great profile!

  3. That is a LOT of Daft Punk!I am going to shake it up a bit because I will get complaints about that ( sorry). Thanks though

    1. Author

      no problem! All our profiles are designed for you to replace the music if you need to! I would love to hear what you end up with.

      A little bit about the choice…this is not your typical Daft Punk, it’s from a soundtrack, and never in a million years would I have guessed it was Daft Punk! There are no lyrics and it’s more symphonic. And, they are all short, which is perfect for these interval recoveries!

      Sometimes when selecting recovery songs, I like to pick all the same artist, or a theme, or all 80s, or something that ties them all together. This is an example of using all songs from the same soundtrack that have a similar feel. Yet still they are different.

      The cool thing about a profile like this is that every time you teach it, you can change the songs. The purpose, intensity, and rpm can be the same, just select songs that match those criteria.

      Have fun with recovery songs for interval classes like this….chose a different theme every time you teach it!

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