Inside Out: How to Train Outdoor Cyclists with Spinning® Classes
By Becki Tooley

One thing the Spinning program focuses on heavily is using movements from real road cycling. Since many of my students in Spinning classes are avid outdoor cyclists who participate in races—including the week-long bicycle race through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado—I’ve found that my classes are a great training method that students can use to prepare. I use these specific methods to help train outdoor riders: knowing their goals, simulating the terrain and performing drills.

Know their goals. First and foremost, I ask students about their goals for upcoming races and I use this knowledge to plan my classes. I realize that some of my students come to class simply for the great workout, so I am very conscious of not being too technical. I always keep the class moving and everyone improving.

Simulate the terrain. To prepare my road cyclists for their upcoming races, I focus on environment. By describing the scenery and simulating the terrain that they will encounter, students will feel more prepared for the race. I have had the pleasure of traveling quite a bit, but some simple online research is one of the surest ways to help you plan your class.

Perform peloton drills. Although I always encourage all of my students to ride at their own pace, it is important to train road cyclists to be aware of riders around them. I refer to my students as the peloton—the large group in a road race.

One of my favorite drills for the peloton is what I call “The Attack,” which is demonstrated when a rider is charging up a hill and wants to pass another rider or get around an obstacle in the road. At the beginning of a hill climb, coach your students to turn the resistance up, get out of the saddle and push it hard for 10-20 seconds. Slowly ease back into the saddle and continue pushing for another 10-15 seconds. Finally, turn the resistance down and recover. This short but challenging drill helps train road cyclists to be more aggressive on the hills.

Perform single-leg drills. Emphasizing cadence during single-leg drills is always a good bet for making riders stronger. Start out on a long hill. Coach your students to focus on one leg while increasing their cadence for 30 seconds. Release resistance and recover for 30 seconds. Add resistance and repeat the drill three times. Bring your mindset back to both legs together for 30 seconds and then repeat the drill, focusing on the other leg.

Your ultimate goal should always be to make your students stronger—whether you’re helping them reach their goals for Spinning class or outdoor races. Either way, your coaching will take them a long way, up a large hill with obstacles or simply toward being healthier and more physically fit.


Becki Tooley has been a Spinning instructor for nearly three years and teaches at Fitness Architects in Monument, Colorado. She is known around town as “The Crazy Spinning Lady”. Contact her at




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