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As Spinning® instructors, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is this: Do we just want our students to sweat or do we want to help them reach training goals? The answer is, of course, the latter option. The tricky – and less obvious – question is how you can help them reach their goals. A tried-and-true place to start is by applying to the goal-oriented principles of the Spinning Energy Zones™ with the use of heart rate monitors.

In an ideal world, your facility has a successful Energy Zones™ schedule, and all your students are sporting their own personal heart rate monitors. But, creating Energy Zones™ schedules can be difficult, as there are often many different students with a various backgrounds and experience levels.

So, how do you properly teach an Energy Zones™ schedule with half your students taking three – four classes per week and the other half taking classes one to two times per week? Simple – start with the fundamentals by encouraging the use a heart rate monitors and providing a balanced mixture of classes.

Sure, some students are completely content training in one specific Energy Zones™, but before they decide to put their fitness routine on cruise control, it’s important to let them know the benefits they could achieve with the simple addition of a heart rate monitor. After all, whether it’s mental or physical, everyone comes to class with a goal in mind, and as Spinning instructors, it’s our responsibility to give them the best opportunity to achieve those goals.

Educate Students on Energy Zones

Let’s take a step back and review the fundamentals with a closer look at heart rate ranges and the best time and place to leverage each one, depending on the goals of your students:

Recovery Energy Zone (50 – 65 percent MHR)

  • Great for recovery sessions.
  • Used to restore the body both physically and mentally.
  • Circulates blood and oxygen throughout the body.

Endurance Energy Zone (65 – 75 percent MHR)

  • Ideal for most beginner students.
  • Trains the body to maintain a steady heart rate during the ride.
  • Helps the rider to resist fatigue for longer durations.

Strength Energy Zone (75 – 85 percent MHR)

  • Accustoms the body with a faster pace.
  • Emphasizes both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
  • Promotes mental and physical development.

Interval Energy Zone (65% MHR – Max Effort)

  • The goal is to develop the ability to recover quickly after work.
  • Emphasizes speed, tempo, rhythm and timing.
  • Work efforts are broken by consistent rest periods.

Race Day Energy Zone (80% MHR – Max Effort)

  • You begin to “go anaerobic” and build up lactic acid (reach the anaerobic threshold).
  • The anaerobic threshold increases along with the fitness level.
  • Carried out at a steady heart rate consistent with anaerobic threshold.

Encourage Students to Wear Heart Rate Monitors

  • Ask your students what their training goals are why are they in the Spinning® class/ If they are training for health or weight management, explain the benefits of training at a lower intensity and how a heart rate monitor can help.
  • For students who want to get started with a heart rate monitor, the Spinning Connect ™ heart rate monitor & chest strap is a great place to start, as it’s compatible with all Spinning bike computers.
  • Loan heart rate monitors to your students. This will give the skeptics a chance to try it out and realize the rewards before they buy.
  • Stress the importance of using a heart rate monitor as a beginner. Most importantly, it will keep new riders from starting out too hard (as new riders are often tempted to do).
  • Remember that everyone likes to see results! Explain to your students that heart rate monitors are the best way for them to optimize their training sessions and show the measurable results they produce.
  • Incorporate heart rate games into your classes.

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Excite Your Class with Goal-focused Games

Using a heart rate monitor can greatly enhance the mind/body connection, which is the core of the Spinning program philosophy. Try these heart rate games with your class to familiarize students with training in the Energy Zones, how the heart rate monitor works and how it can work for them:

Game #1: Heart Rate Performance

This exercise measures recovery after a high-intensity workout. Each participant will need a heart rate monitor and a stopwatch.

  • After warming up, ask your students to bring their heart rates up into the anaerobic range, 85 percent of MHR.
  • Have them maintain this intensity for several minutes, then remove almost all resistance and decrease their cadence to 50 RPM or slower.
  • Now ask them to note the time it takes for their heart rate to drop from 85 percent to 65 percent (the high end of the Recovery Zone). This recovery heart rate time is a measure of cardiovascular fitness.

Game #2: Ladders

Ladders is an interval exercise, representing a combination of the Endurance, Strength and Race Day Energy Zones.

  • Ask your students to ride at 65 percent of MHR for five minutes.
  • Every five minutes after that, have them increase five BPM until they reach 85 percent of their MHR.
  • Stay at 85 percent for 10 minutes and then have them work their way back down the “ladder,” spending five minutes at each level, followed by a cool-down. To change up the workout, feel free to adjust times and HR percentage.

Game #3: Heart Rate Manipulation Game

This exercise will help riders develop the ability to voluntarily lower their heart rates through mental focus. It’s a perfect example of mental training and a technique that will keep your student’s mind-body connection sharp. It is best performed off the bike with no distractions.

  • Have everyone sit in a comfortable position with his or her heart rate monitors in front of them. Ask them to visualize a peaceful place, such as a serene lake or sun-drenched tropical beach or perhaps even their back porch.
  • As they focus on visualization, they will gain control of their heart rates. Suggest they look at their heart rate numbers and concentrate on lowering their heart rates by ten beats.

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