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Indoor Cycling Drill List with Instructions

13 Popular Indoor Cycling Drills with Instructions

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Understand and practice these indoor cycling drills with instructions to stay safe and get the most out of your workout.

I’ve been teaching an indoor cycling class for several years, and one of my favorite parts is putting together a playlist and coordinating drills. From what I’ve seen online, I’m not alone in my love for sharing my favorite class sets.

With at-home cycling workouts rising in popularity, you may find yourself wondering what some of these drills mean. Sprint and climb? Ok, I can understand that. But what about hovers, tap-backs, and jumps? Maybe not so clear.

If you’re brand new (or still consider yourself a beginner) to cycling, I highly recommend downloading a copy of my eBook. This guide is perfect for new cyclists and will go into more detail about how to safely set up your bike, what to expect in both virtual and in-person cycling classes, and teach you basic terms and phrases you’ll hear from most instructors.

Beginners guide to indoor cycling overview

Always check with your medical or health professional before beginning any new fitness or health routine and seek appropriate attention when necessary.

Indoor Cycling Basics

Warm Up

First things first, before you dive into any workout, it’s important to warm up. Take a few minutes (or a song) to ride at a brisk pace with light resistance. As you feel your body warming, gradually add a little more speed and/or resistance.

Also remember to stretch and practice good posture as you begin your workout.

For 10 ways you can have an even better spin class, check out this post from Shape.


RPM (or Revolutions per Minute) refers to how many times your pedal makes a full circle. Generally speaking, many cyclists use it to measure their speed. Use these general RPM guidelines for drills:

Warm-Up/Cool Down – 80-100 RPMs
Sprint – 100-120+ RPMs
Climb – 60-100 RPMs (varies with resistance)

Remember, these figures are just a guide. You may be a little below or above these ranges. You know your body and fitness level better than anyone – listen to your body!

If your bike does not have connectivity functions, use the beat of the music as your guide. Sometimes, you’ll hear this method of training referred to as “rhythym rides.”


Resistance is a measure of how difficult it is to pedal. Each bike will adjust and feel differently, so I like to coach on a scale of 1 to 10. Your “base resistance” or a 1 is your starting point – it should feel like you’re just riding around on a flat parking lot. You should feel the grip of the road, but it should feel very light and like something you could do for a long time without tiring. Of course, a 10 is “oh my goodness I can hardly move the pedal!” Use these resistance guides for drills:

Warm-Up/Cool Down – 1-3
Sprint – 2-4
Climb – 5+

As with RPMs, these guidelines may vary based on your fitness level and cycling experience.

Cool Down

At the end of your workout, take sufficient time to cool down and stretch. I like to return to my warm-up pace and resistance and “ride easy” for a few minutes.

Stretching is extremely important to prevent injury and aid in recovery. Check out this post for some of my favorite glute stretches.

13 popular indoor cycling drills with instructions to use at home or in class

Indoor Cycling Drills with Instructions

I’m going to divide this list into 3 sections: indoor cycling drills for speed, strength, and stamina. When I design a playlist and workout, I like to shuffle these basic categories to keep my class engaged and working hard. I definitely never want class to feel too predictable or boring!

Let’s get to it!


Feel the need for speed with these drills! Typically, speed drills are 100-120 RPMs (or higher!). Here are some keys to success:

  1. Always have enough resistance to stay in control. You never want your hips to feel like they’re bouncing around in the saddle or like the bike is out of control. Remember, you are riding the bike…not the other way around.
  2. Check your form. Continue to practice pedaling in a “full circle” by pushing down on the pedal and then using your legs to “pull” it back up as well.
  3. Relax your upper body. Make it look easy and don’t “choke” the handlebars.

Working on your speed with cycling is a great way to improve your performance in other sports as well. I’ve had people in my class tell me that spin class has helped them to train for running races.

Seated Sprint

When you sprint, you want to go as fast as you safely can. Remembering our RPM and resistance guidelines above, think of sprints as HIIT drills, or high intensity interval training.

I like to keep a brisk pace during the verse of a song, and then really ramp up my speed during a chorus. This helps to make sure you have some recovery time built into your sprints and keeps your intervals evenly spaced.

Standing Sprint

SUPER IMPORTANT: You must make sure you have enough resistance to support yourself while standing. If you are going at a faster pace, go ahead and add a little extra to help off-set your momentum. Typically, you can stand around a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-10, but it’s always best to be a little on the heavier side.

If your body is moving upward and downward, you probably need more. Your body should move more in a side-to-side motion, and less like a pogo stick. Stick your booty out and use your handlebars for balance.

For a standing sprint, you’ll want your body to remain low with your booty over the saddle. The faster you go, the more you’ll need to keep your body in line. Standing will also cause your typical sprinting RPMs to decrease a little, which is ok and expected!

Increasing Speed

Starting at your sprinting resistance, add 5-10 RPMs every 20-30 seconds (or every few song sentences). As you continue to increase your speed, you may also need to increase your resistance as support.

You can continue to increase your RPM count throughout the song or do 2-3 sets, which means they’ll be shorter, so you’ll need to increase your speed more quickly.


How to use a spin bike at home. 13 indoor cycling drills with instructions you'll hear in most spin classes

Indoor cycling can help you quickly build your leg muscles. When you are working on your strength, remember to add a noticeable amount of resistance each time you add. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot (or even a whole turn), but you should be able to feel the difference. Keep tabs on your range, so you can note your increasing strength and continue to challenge yourself.

To hone in on increasing your strength, try these drills during your next cycling workout.


Duh, a climb. Think of a climb as literally going up a hill or mountain. The steeper the incline, the more resistance you’ll need. Your climbs can be very intense, ranging on a scale of 8-10, at slower speeds, or you can have a more moderate level of resistance with a little faster pace.

Either way, have enough resistance where you can feel your legs burn as they work and keep your heart rate elevated.

Rolling Hill

Rolling hills are some of my favorite drills. Just as it sounds, you’ll have periods of a climb, followed by a “downhill” where you will reduce some resistance while increasing your speed.

Typically, I’ll time this drill to a song where we climb during the verses (typically slower) and then sprint through the chorus (or when the beat drops). Repeat throughout the song, which is generally 3x.

As an added challenge, make each hill a little steeper and heavier than the previous. Remember to not take off too much resistance for the sprint, so that you remain in control.

Increasing Strength

For this drill, find an RPM that feels brisk, but not too fast…typically in the lower end of your warm-up range. No matter what, stick to that pace throughout the song. Every 20-30 seconds, add some resistance. You decide how much, but make sure you can feel a noticeable change.

Keep adding throughout the song, or do a few shorter, more intense sets.

I tell my participants that if it gets really hard, they can’t be mad at me because they picked their pace, haha.


When I think of a spin class, improving my stamina is what comes to mind! This is probably what most people think of as well with its so-called intimidating reputation. When you build your stamina, you improve your endurance and ability to work harder for longer periods of time. It’s a great thing to train for!


Simply stated, jumps are alternating periods of time in and out of the saddle. These can be varying lengths, but typically 8 and 16 counts in each position are the most popular. It is possible to do jumps at a faster pace, but this may require a higher level of cycling experience.

Keep alternating positions throughout a song, or divide it up into sections.

When you jump, try not to hoist yourself up by the handlebars. Rather, propel yourself up and out of the saddle using your legs.


From a standing position, stick your booty out and back, like you’re going to sit in a chair. Instead of having a seat, hover above the saddle for a brief second before returning to a more neutral position. Continue to repeat throughout the drill, or, give yourself sections of 20-30 seconds of work.

To see these in action, check out this quick how-to video from Mattie Millikan.

Notice how she always goes back with each downstroke on the same leg? Remember to switch it up and alternate each set to work each leg equally.

I like to do these to the beat of the music, but make sure you go at a pace that you can handle and are comfortable with. It’s always most important to be safe.


If you were to take off on a ramp, you would need to increase your speed as the elevation increased. That’s the feeling I’m going for with ramp drills.

Start with a brisk pace and moderate resistance. Continue to add speed and resistance until you “take off” and sprint. Return to your starting positions. Each ramp will be 30-45 seconds.

This drill is sure to build your stamina, but make sure to give yourself periods of rest in between sets.

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Isolated Leg

It can be hard to train your legs to pedal in a full circle. Using isolated leg drills will help you practice that motion, as well as build endurance for each leg individually. You’ll need climbing resistance to get the full effects of this drill.

With one foot on the pedal, remove the other and rest it in the middle of your bike or gently off to the side. With one leg, focus on pushing the pedal down and pulling it back up towards you again. Mark how long you work this first leg, and then switch, working for the same amount of time (and intensity) with the other leg.

Even if one leg may feel stronger than the other (usually the dominant), leave the resistance the same and try to even them out.

Your upper body can remain in a riding position, or you can sit up straight and really engage your core throughout the drill.


Hovers are an easy way to get your legs to scream!

From a standing position, stick your booty out and back (similar to a tap-back), but then hold your form. It should look like you’re seated, but surprise surprise, you’re not! I like to yell “fake me out!” when using this indoor cycling drill. Do your best to minimize your hip movement and remain as still as possible.

I hope this has been a helpful guide and gives you more information into how to successfully complete an indoor cycling class! Drop me a comment if you’d like more explanation or have other drills you’d like me to cover.

Think of these indoor cycling drills with instructions as a template. Use them to follow along with curated playlists or use your creativity to have fun applying them to your own favorite songs.

Kelcey has been married to her husband for 9 years and has two super giggly little girls. She is a stay-at-home mom, indoor cycling instructor, hater of clutter, lover of dark chocolate almonds and enjoys writing posts that are helpful and relatable to other moms.

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