Christine, Tom, and I all use two hands to indicate relative intensity. In order to do this, you must have a baseline with which to compare the intensity you are asking of your students. Lactate threshold (LT) or ventilatory threshold (VT) are the best benchmarks. Hold one hand out flat to indicate a rider’s threshold, and the other hand is held either below (slightly below for moderately hard to hard efforts, or a lot below for easier efforts) or above for much harder efforts. Once you’ve taught them about threshold efforts, you can use that as a baseline for relative intensity.
Visual #1: The intensity range
In the photo below, Tom is showing the wide range of intensity he will be using in this ride. Throughout the class, he’ll then refer back to this to indicate where on this scale he wants them to be.