Main Body

6. Intensity and Procedures

1. Heart Rate Monitor

The most practical and easiest way to monitor intensity is with a heart rate monitor. If you own a heart rate monitor, completing a few simple equations prior to coming to class will make it easy to track your intensity. Typically, it is recommended to exercise in a range between 65%-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate (MHR).

To calculate your estimated maximum heart rate (MHR), you subtract 220 from your age: (MHR=220-age). See the example below.

20 year-old cyclist
220-20 = 200
200 = Estimated MHR
200 x (.65) = 130 beats per minute (BPM)
200 x (.85) = 170 BPM

A 20-year-old cyclist would want to keep a heart rate between 130-170 BPM depending on the desired level of intensity. It is important to remember this is just an estimate of your true heart rate maximum; therefore, it is not 100% accurate. The downside to utilizing this method to measure exercise intensity is not everyone has the money to purchase a heart rate monitor and when you are exercising on a bike, it is difficult to stop and take your pulse. Therefore, we’re going to explore a few other methods for measuring intensity.


2. Borg’s Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Another way to measure intensity is with Borg’s Rate of Perceived Exertion scale. Perceived exertion is based on how intense the exercise feels at any given moment. The Borg Scale measures intensity based on perceived feelings of fatigue. It is a scale that ranges from 6-20 with 6 being very, very easy, and 20 being extremely difficult. The problem with this scale is that it is difficult for users to know and determine the difference between the numbers. For example: what is the difference between a rating of an 8 and 9? How different will a rating of 9 feel from a 10? Additionally, 6-20 is a big range and often seems confusing to participants in an exercise class.


3. Measuring in Four Zones

Mostly for class purposes, intensity will be measured in four zones. Read about each of the zones below.

  • Zone 1 = you’ve been sitting on your couch for the last 3 hours. You can breathe long deep breaths through just your nose. Your body is relaxed, and you are comfortable.
  • Zone 2 = you are definitely working but it is an easy, comfortable pace. You could stay here all day and be completely fine. You can easily carry on a conversation and can still breathe through your nose with ease.
  • Zone 3 = you could stay here if you had to, but you’re not sure if you want to. Your mouth hangs open because you need more air. (You cannot just breathe through your nose anymore). You could talk if you had to, but you don’t want to because you need your air. Breath is slightly audible.
  • Zone 4 = you are giving it everything you have got. Nose breathing is not an option. Your breath is definitely audible (your neighbors can hear you breathing), and you are not talking to anybody. After going to zone 4, you definitely need some time to recover. It takes a few seconds before you are ready and able to carry on a conversation.

What is a cadence/revolutions per minute, and why is it important during cycling?
A cadence, or revolutions per minute (RPMs) is important to monitor because it ensures the rider has enough resistance on the flywheel and is maximizing the workout. For example: if an instructor tells the class to do a seated climb, participants should typically be between 65-80 RPMs. If an instructor sees a participant going over 100, the rider clearly does not have enough resistance on the flywheel and is not going to get a lot out of the workout.


What expectations does the participant have after the cycling workout is complete?
In order to provide the most positive indoor cycling experience possible and ensure the equipment has a long life, it is important for participants to do their part post-ride. Read the following expectations below.

  • Always wipe down the bikes with a sanitary wipe or cleaning solution provided by the facility. Do not forget to wipe the handlebars, seat, frame, and floor as sweat often drips off the rider. In the Ramsey Student Center sanitary wipes are provided and can be found at various locations on the perimeter of the room.
  • At the end of every ride please take all of the resistance off of the bikes. Keeping resistance on the bike when it is not in use provides unnecessary wear and tear on the flywheel and brake pads.
  • Raise handlebars and seat post to highest positions. This allows for any sweat or other liquids to air-dry which prevents rusting to the bike. (If the bikes are Keiser, riders can skip this step as the seat and handlebar posts are designed to prevent sweat from rusting the bikes)
  • Note the numbers or letters where the handlebars and seat are positioned. Remembering these numbers or letters allow riders to quickly set up the bike before the next ride.
  • Discard any empty water bottles, used towels, or other trash in the appropriate location.
  • If a bike does not ride properly, be sure to communicate this with your indoor cycling instructor. Give a clear description of the issue so that they or maintenance staff can fix the bike as quickly as possible.


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Ch.1 - Indoor Cycling Copyright © by UGA PEDB Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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