For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

The resistance button… Light, moderate, heavy,…

I know you might think, is this guy serious talking about the resistance button?

We all know how this works, right! And all instructors know how to talk about resistance in their classes as well…

Well, this is why I am writing today. When welcoming new students to the class I noticed over the years that it is essential to talk to them about the button more than
just showing them how to use it as the safety break, but also how to really use it.

The main question I get from students is: ‘How much should I put on there? Are you going to tell me that?’. Especially as the new participants often don’t bring a Heart Rate monitor, it is essential to talk to them about feeling (Rate of Perceived Exertion, RPE). I immediately warn them that it might be somewhat ‘frustrating’
at first not knowing exactly how ‘much’ to put on there.

So as an instructor I find 2 things are important to tell the new participants:

1. If you have a Heart Rate monitor,
please bring it as Spinning® is a Heart Rate based program and it will make
your training so much better. It will also help you choose a resistance that will get you to a certain % of your maximum heart Rate at a certain cadence (=
number of revolutions per minute). The heart rate monitor does not only make it more safe , it will also make your training so much more efficient!

2. Please play with the button a bit today so you get used to it. The resistance is personal and you will put it on in such a way that your feeling corresponds nicely to the cadence and cues such as: “could you do this for another 15 minutes, are you out of breath, ….”

And this is where I hope as an instructor you never get tempted to give a quantitative approach to the resistance button such as : “add a quarter turn more, half a turn less, a full turn more, etc…”.

Even though as a participant, in the beginning they will think: “this I understand”, please don’t use terms like these as it simply does not mean anything.


Maybe I should tell you why not to do this as an instructor or why as a participant you don’t
want this to be the way you are coached about resistance.

3 reasons:


1. We are ALL UNIQUE! And hence we all have our own resistance and we cannot
all use one and the same resistance for all. This is what makes our program so
great. You can have an elite cyclist come train with his family members and
they all can train excellently at their own pace and resistance.  So let’s say we were to impose a certain
resistance (or power output, expressed in Watts) on all people. In that case some
participants would be bored while others would already be really out of breath.
Heart rates would be all over the place, some riding at 65% of their maximum HR
while others might be above 80%. This way we cannot offer training to  group!

Let’s say this was not enough to convince you yet:


2. Where do you start the resistance button at the beginning of the class?

What happens when person A starts with the resistance pad already pretty hard on the flywheel and person B starts with the pad an inch away from it?
Indeed, person B can turn the button several full turns clockwise and will still feel absolutely no change as there is still no resistance on the flywheel! (please make sure to have a little bit of resistance on your bike at all times)

Surely this should seal it, but just in case it didn’t yet:


3. To counter point 2 above, I hear
some creative instructors say: “I learnt in another program that we first put maximum resistance on the bike (ie. According
to their words maximum resistance is
reached when ‘turning the button until it does not want to move any harder’)
and then we turn down a number of turns and we will have a common starting point. But don’t forget, it is not about a common starting point (see point number 1). And even if it was, the brake pads all have their own level of wear-and-tear. So even if we wanted to consider using the same starting resistance for all, this would not work as some would feel incredibly heavy
with just a couple of full turns whereas others will have more gradients of resistance.

In short, let’s keep Spinning® simple as it is supposed to be. Ideally we ride with our HR monitor and we apply light – moderate – heavy  (or verbal variations of these) resistance to
the flywheel to simulate terrain and elements of nature.

I hope this blog makes sense to you as this has been something coming back almost every
education I teach.

See you
soon on the bike,




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