Testing. Testing 123? I’ve got the POWER! You’ve got WATT? I’ve got the COLOUR POWER!

This is a post relating to the last one from earlier this week: http://spinbella.com/2015/07/28/empower-your-spin-class-training-may-the-force-be-with-you/.

I wrote the last one as I had just tweaked my two existing class profiles to turn the focus in them onto power. I simply adapted them to Coach by Colour on MatrixIC7. Did it mean changing the music or what I was going to do with each of the songs? Not at all. It was about deciding what to say and what NOT to say so as to get the participants concentrate on how HARD they were actually working.

It can be a bit tricky if you are used to teaching using RPMs and RPE scale or even gears estimation, to suddenly have this EXTRA thing to talk about. It can throw you off as an instructor. Why? Because you have your way of saying things, directing people so the workout is still a group exercise class rather than each to their own. And now the bikes have consoles with all those numbers, percentages, zones, symbols like >, <, % and your head starts spinning (no pun intended).

First time I tried to integrate teaching with colours in my usual class I felt it was a mess. The feedback wasn't bad at all but I felt like the class was not up to my usual standards. I felt I didn't have enough time to explain about power enough for it to make sense, and adding just extra information on top of all I normally say was just information overload.

So I decided to take a break. I allowed people to get used to the consoles and setting the colours up if they wished but I wasn't coaching by colour. I would still use only RPMs and resistance. Then I did all the reading and training I mentioned in my last post. And a couple months later – last Tuesday to be exact – I felt ready.

And boy did it work!!! I lead from the colours and kept people focused on the WATTS and how that number was changing and why. I asked them to try and beat their highest number in each consecutive interval (before you bash me there were only 3 in each sequence). The feedback was overwhelming! I loved teaching it and people really worked their butts off. Numbers were reached which I would have never expected to see:



The main Takeway Golden Tip for instructors: in power focused training RPMs are/can be of less importance. Someone can be riding fast at 90 RPMs while someone else is on 68RPMs and they will both be in the same power zone depending on the resistance. It may look less “synchronised” but if you use Coach by Colour as long as the bikes light up in the colour you asked for, you know people are working as hard as you want them to (yes, you can train certain RPM brackets too but that’s another class).

Don’t get me wrong: I have loads to learn and knowledge is POWER πŸ™‚ but a couple of months ago I simply didn’t know enough about this concept, didn’t understand it well enough to teach with it. But I am on my way. Onwards and upwards.

Now the ball is in your court as training with power only makes sense if you have a benchmark. What am I getting at? YOU NEED TO DO A POWER TEST. You need to know where you are currently at, to set yourself a target you want to head towards so you will know at any point in time where you are on that journey.

If you train on MatrixIC7 ask at your gym when the next ramp test is coming. If you work on any other bikes ask whether any kind of power tests are organised: FTP, PST, ramp tests, anything. If your gym doesn’t run any testing – suggest it. If enough people do, they may put something on.

You need a test to have the starting point and then retest every 3 months.

What if testing is not available? The next “best thing” on MatrixIC7 bikes would be experimenting over the next few classes with your colour zones. If you hit red in the warm up when your breathing doesn’t even change, your FTW number is way too low. If you hit red every time as soon as you stand up, your number is still too low – adjust it. But if you are giving it your 100%, feel like your heart is going to explode and you are panting like a steam train and you are still in yellow – your FTW number estimation was too high.

If you work on other bikes you can still have a go at doing an FTP20 test on a Wattbike.

Work with your instructor. Or even contact me here or via my FB page: Smart Fitness Izabela Ruprik if you want advice.

I am looking forward to my own testing at Cadence which has been put off due to me being ill for the past week. But I will share my experiences when I have done it. The 60s was Flower Power. It’s 2015 and we’re into Colour Power!

5 thoughts on “Testing. Testing 123? I’ve got the POWER! You’ve got WATT? I’ve got the COLOUR POWER!

    • Hi Lena – I knew someone was going to mention it πŸ™‚ It wasn’t requested. I go by 55-120RPm rule but this time in 3 15 sec intervals I asked people to go as fast as they could. I asked them to focus on the WATTs and not to overwhelm with too many numbers left out the max RPMs this time. They were on a moderate hill. This guy however is really strong and fit – as you can see from the max watts reached. So when he went all out 15sec sprint he reached 123 at some point.


      • Ok, here’s the thing that I think is really important. I’m sure you know that going above 110 RPM is not safe and mostly ineffective. I don’t mean to be a know-it-all here or be negative, but you can’t take the RPM off accounts – power or no power – those numbers have to work together. Students have to stay within the safe range of RPM (60-80 for hills, 80-110 for flats). Super strong and fit? Add more resistance and push your watts up that way.
        Shifting focus to power in class is great, but you have to remember that power = cadence x resistance. You can’t throw either of those out of equation.


  1. No, I agree. Everything taken on board. I didn’t ignore RPMs totally – no chance πŸ™‚ I don’t think 3RPM above recommended limit is a major cause for concern and as per the RPM brackets – that differs with certification: it’s max 110-120 depending. Les Mills goes to 130RPM. I wouldn’t go there. Lower bracket varies between 55-60RPM too. I have one song (among tens of climbs) at 55 any other climbs are from 62 upwards. On the Wattbike certification and even in their FTP20 protocolled warm up you should get a few spin ups in preparation for the test and you go as hard as you can. You can see in their course or videos or materials that they go past 130RPMs. When it comes to sprinting I always say I prefer them at 100RPMs but on a good gear and burning thighs than 110 or 120 if not fully controlled. Still, some certs and literature put the higher limit at 110 others at 120. Thanks for reading and commenting.


    • Just a clarification regarding my statement above about cadence in training with power. Cadence is crucial as it’s cadence and/or resistance that will affect power. I didn’t mean that cadence can be ignored . I meant that in the kind of class I did using Coach by Colour technology on Matrix IC7 I allowed more freedom regarding cadence than usual. Normally I would say: 90-92RPM or 64-66RPM but this time I was just asking people to move up or down the zone and they could change the gear or speed. It was an exercise to get them to see how these two factors influence power. As a consequence there were moments where people’s speed varied significantly. That said it wasn’t a bonanza: do what you want 30RPM or 130RPM I don’t care πŸ™‚ The picture of the screen showing 123RPM – that is the highest cadence reached in 45min at some moment in time. It wasn’t requested nor is it a speed I advocate. But we all know it does happen. And as this bike picks up the max numbers achieved it shows on the summary screen. The number to focus on was the 500Watts. It wasn’t the RPMs I was proud of. I actually didn’t even see that number initially I was so blown away by the Watts.


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