My dirty secret as a cyclist is that I actually enjoy spin classes. I don’t blame you for your judgement, I would do the same if you said it. There is something transcendent that can happen when you fully engage with the music while pushing yourself through a hard, painful set of intervals. It’s like a runner’s high times ten.
The problems with spin classes are they’re usually total bullshit. Why do instructors barks endless sets of commands that have no relation to actual cycling? Stand up, sit down, increase the resistance, stand up, sit down, spin as fast as you can, increase the resistance, slow down, increase the resistance, stand up, sit down, increase the resistance… and do a pushup?
Fuck that. I want real music and a real workout. So I made a DJ mix for a real workout myself.
The music and the files
The best spin class I’ve done had a live DJ playing a deep house music set. I loved getting carried away in his selection, however there was no link between him and the instructor. There were peaks and valleys in the music clashing with the peaks and valleys in the workout. It didn’t need to be this way.
This is a deep-ish house set of one hour that I mixed specifically for this workout. You can play it below, right click to download it here, or use the one on YouTube (especially helpful if you’re not using Zwift).
Regardless of your fitness or experience, this should be a staple workout in your workout repertoire: four intervals of 8(ish) minutes at 105%(ish) of your FTP (or the power you can hold for about an hour).
Why it’s important?
If the line above didn’t mean anything to you and you’re curious to learn more, here’s a good search query to get you started. If you don’t care to learn more (you really don’t have to), just do this workout once a week, and do another four hours on the bike easy split up on other days.
No bullshit, this is easy. At least the theory is. It’s a hard workout to perform.
How to perform it?
This workout is actually fairly hard to get right. The good thing is if you’re doing it once a week you’ll have enough experience to nail it. I would start this workout so that your intervals are around 105% of your FTP. If you’ve determined your FTP by taking 95% of your 20-minute maximum effort, then this would be about the same power as that.
The thing that makes this harder to perform accurately is that our FTP is variable from week to week, and can also change in response to your training load. So some days you may have trouble hitting 105%, and other days you may have no problem with 108% or even more.
If you clicked the search link above, you’ll find a link to a PDF that gives a great description of how you should feel during each interval. Summarized, the first interval should feel hard, but doable. The second should give you some doubts whether you can finish it at that level. The third is the hardest—it brings you into a dark place. The fourth gets easier—the end is in sight.
You should be adjusting this workout for feel—either up or down.
How to adjust it?
If you’re using a dumb trainer, just change gears. If you’re using Zwift, the adjustment is right here. Keep in mind if this shows 100%, the intervals are actually the default 104% of your FTP.
How to warm up
You don’t have to do anything, but the warmup is long—15 minutes. If you feel like you need to do something other than pushing a low wattage for 15 minutes, feel free to turn off ERG mode using the companion app. This will let you adjust the tension as you need to get yourself ready for the intervals.
Just remember to hit that button again to re-enable ERG mode before the intervals begin.
To sync the workout and the music
It’s simple and maybe a little sad. Hit the play button right as the workout starts. If the music is showing 1:03, then the workout should be saying 1:03. It may take some fiddling, but unless I can develop my own app (hey, what an idea), this is the tradeoff.
I would love any and all feedback on this—good or bad. If I’m explaining something wrong, please let me know. If you have an idea for a workout or music, I’d also love to know. If you need any support or help to choose programs or making it work, again let me know. If this went perfectly and you’d like more, I’d love to know. Whatever your experience is, feedback would be much appreciated!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org