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Spin Class Ideas: Maximum Effort Interval Training

Folks doing interval training in a spin class

As a fitness instructor, have you ever asked your Group X class to give their all during high-intensity interval training only to watch as they held back in the execution? You tell them to go all out, and while your participants are working really hard, you know they still have a little bit more to give.

When we take group fitness classes, most of us have a tendency to hold back. Especially if we’re not sure what’s to come for the rest of the class, we’re hesitant to really give it our all in case we need more energy and effort later on. And, that maximum effort is an uncomfortable feeling that takes a lot of willpower and determination to achieve. Plus, it’s difficult to sustain that max effort for a long period of time. While I know it’s almost impossible for riders to truly work at “maximum” level, we all can recognize when we feel like participants are giving their best in the moment or holding back.

So, how do we bring out the very best effort from our participants during sprint interval training in spin class?

Recently, I tried a new strategy in cueing sprint intervals in my spin class.

We’ve done 30/30 intervals before — 30 seconds of maximum, breathless work and 30 second recovery. But, sometimes we struggle with truly getting breathless by the end of the sprint.

This time I tweaked my cues for the intervals. I asked folks to give me their max effort right out of the gate.

Go as fast as you can possibly go and hold it for as long as you can (within the 30 seconds).

So, if you can’t hold that effort for 30 seconds, that’s okay. Instead, you would dial it down and continue at a “hard” pace until the 30 seconds are up.

The response was amazing — wheels were flying and legs were pumping fast! And, I was blown away with how long participants could hold that maximum level of effort. Just about everyone was able to keep with it for the entire 30 seconds of the first sprint.

I think part of the reason this was so successful was because it deviated from the status quo. We don’t normally do our intervals like that, so the change was appreciated and embraced.

And, since members knew they could slow down whenever they wanted, they allowed themselves to tap into that maximum effort mentality.

While I loved the response I received on these intervals, I don’t think I can incorporate them into the spin class routine every week. These intervals are more of a special option to be used when riders need fresh motivation. Otherwise, the cue will lose its impact.

Also, be careful with how many intervals you do in one class. If these intervals are going to more challenging than usual for participants, you’ll want to consider doing less, so they can really give their all when called upon.

Try incorporating this interval training mentality in your next spin class. Feel free to tweak the instruction to meet your teaching style.

For more tips on what to say to a Group X class to encourage great work, check out the fitness motivation and cueing page.