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Thread: Base gear and Range Drill

  1. Default Base gear and Range Drill

    I'm curious if anyone uses a drill during class that helps riders find their 'base' gear and range of gears on the Keiser bikes. Thanks for any tips!

  2. #2

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    In my classes (I am a student, not an instructor) I use a gear where there is light resistance at about 80-90 rpm. I personally use gear 13 for my base gear and go up from there. I max out at about gear 21 and 50 rpm. I do not go over gear 21 typically as I do not want bad knees in the future. I will be honest. #chickenlegs_for_a_guy ..

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    Angien, it would depend on what you are asking of them. Are you asking for a base gear that would resemble a flat, as edmscan noted or a base gear to climb. Also, it's not about being in a particular gear, what do you want them to feel? edmscan is at gear 13 but that may have me feeling really challenged.

    Can you elucidate?
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    I have been teaching on the Keiser M3 bikes since 2009 (?).

    I don't use base gears, just base power.

    I will do a power test at the beginning of the class (average power over 4-5 mins of best effort) and then use that to guide the participants through the intervals and drills. They will either do higher than base or lower, depending on what I want them to do. Participant's base will vary depending on a number of factors, not the least of which is which bike they are on for that class.

    I don't always do a power test to establish a base. On those classes it is all about how they feel.

    I know some instructors will give a range of gears to select from throughout the class. I am not a believer in that cue. There are some whose ego will force (oops, make) them select the higher of the range; others may stay in range but it may not be appropriate for them. Increasing the range provided only provides greater vagueness about how hard (or easy) they should be working. Personally, I have never participated in a class where the instructor managed to get the range right for me. And I have had participants that are fortunate just to be able to pedal the bike at the cadence I ask for with minimal tension. Just my perspective…
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleGuy View Post
    I don't use base gears, just base power.
    There are some whose ego will force (oops, make) them select the higher of the range; others may stay in range but it may not be appropriate for them.
    I totally agree .. I have seen people state that Gear 15 (my personal power gear) is too easy. But myself, being a smaller guy, (I am only 164 lbs with self confessed chicken legs).. I just cannot put out the watts that the big guys can. And yes, it is often about the EGO, or what I have seen .. showing off for the ladies in the room.

    Myself .. there is a reason I do not go much into the 20's. Mainly cause I just cannot do it in a fashion that I would call productive. I would rather do a smaller gear at a more normal cadence than going crazy on that gear number. It is about saving the knees for me.

    I have also seen people that select a very low gear and just barely participate, you have to wonder if there is much benefit in that at all. But then .. they are often the ones in the back texting on their phones.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EuroD View Post
    Angien, it would depend on what you are asking of them. Are you asking for a base gear that would resemble a flat, as edmscan noted or a base gear to climb. Also, it's not about being in a particular gear, what do you want them to feel? edmscan is at gear 13 but that may have me feeling really challenged.

    Can you elucidate?
    First, thanks to everyone for the feedback!! This is good stuff!!

    To answer your question, I was referring to a base flat road. Just when they feel the road under their feet but it's a 'comfortable' ride at 80 RPMs.

    I absolutely use perceived exertion and feeling, no doubt. Several times per class I explain if the gear doesn't get you to how the road should feel, adjust and make it work for you. I tell them not to get married to the numbers but focus ultimately on the ride! But people love numbers, ya know??

    I ,too, use power time trials on occasion and then we work in power ranges according to the numbers. I like the idea of exclusively using this. Then I guess leads to another question.... Watt ranges. Wouldn't everyone's wattage increase differently going from...say....aerobic work to threshold? I can't imagine it wise to say "add 50 watts and go". This would look different for each individual too...similar to gear range. Guess it all comes back to RPE..and heart rate monitoring...if people have them.

    Our members are very accustomed to gear numbers because we have had Keisers for a long time and most instructors call out gears to reference resistance. Before I was instructing, I had an instructor lead us through a drill to try and help us set our base. Ultimately, we found our heaviest standing climb for 1 minute then backed off 7 gears from there. This was our new base. I have not used this before myself and was curious if anyone else does this or something similar. And opinions on such a drill are welcome too.

    Thanks guys!!!

  7. #7

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    I teach on Keisers and use percentages based on watts a lot. For example, progressions where participants start at some tempo pace (however defined) and increase watts 5% to 10% each step of the progression. I don't ever use gears. They are not the same for each bike (i.e. gear 15 can be be hard on one bike and easier on another) and they are not the same for different ranges of the power curve.

  8. #8

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    If gears are not the same on each bike, does that mean watts feel different on each bike?

    CycleGuy, could you elaborate on your use of the power test at the beginning of the class (each class?) and how you derive a base power level from there? Thanks.

    I teach weekday mornings. My class is made up of riders in the retiree age bracket. Obviously they are not going to do what twenty-somethings can do. I have been using a "base gear, base rpm" approach and ask riders to add appropriately from there. "Challenge yourself but make it your own ride." I try to use 1-10 RPE scale. I also ask riders to keep one eye on the watts, although I have not used watts as a cue. I think it could be a good approach if I could come up with a good plan. I have heard of studios that cue riders to spend the entire ride "watts above your weight." Ain't gonna happen in my class.

    Thanks,
    Marc

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    Excellent questions, Marc. Here's my take on a small puzzle piece from a position of no longer teaching on bikes with power.

    Back when I taught on Keisers (at a gym where we were sandwiched between classes in the *aerobics room*) one of my cues for that first easy foray into warm-up was stolen from a training workshop I attended.....at an easy rolling 80-90 r.p.m. and enough resistance/gear to give you a power output of about 25-50% of your body-weight. Manifestly, this wasn't intended for folk who're straight out of cardiac rehab (had that....really!) or the likes of Ronnie Coleman (thankfully not)

    I could never, EVER, get around the notion that I should be cuing *a* gear..

    Rumour has it that my current gym *home* is changing our bikes to capitalise on the power thingie......I'm excited and almost as equally worried given my past experiences
    Last edited by Vivienne; 02-17-2016 at 11:55 AM. Reason: pore speling

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc5 View Post
    If gears are not the same on each bike, does that mean watts feel different on each bike?
    Ooops, forgot this.....yes they can. From my minimal experience with Keisers that were rolled out for and then put away at the end of class, you can get a big difference in the calibration of the bikes after a bit. I did notice that some of the members really favoured (as in got quite "assertive" about) grabbing the bikes they knew ran a bit easy. Every once in a while I would try to defuse an acrimonious moment (you don't expect a near punch-up at a Y) by mentioning that it's probably *better* to be on a bike that lies to you with a lower power reading/calorie burn than is real over one that lies in the other direction. That worked......NOT!

  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by marc5 View Post
    If gears are not the same on each bike, does that mean watts feel different on each bike?

    CycleGuy, could you elaborate on your use of the power test at the beginning of the class (each class?) and how you derive a base power level from there? Thanks.

    I teach weekday mornings. My class is made up of riders in the retiree age bracket. Obviously they are not going to do what twenty-somethings can do. I have been using a "base gear, base rpm" approach and ask riders to add appropriately from there. "Challenge yourself but make it your own ride." I try to use 1-10 RPE scale. I also ask riders to keep one eye on the watts, although I have not used watts as a cue. I think it could be a good approach if I could come up with a good plan. I have heard of studios that cue riders to spend the entire ride "watts above your weight." Ain't gonna happen in my class.

    Thanks,
    Marc
    The bikes are supposed to be calibrated. With movement (they are at the back of an aerobics studio, moved forward for IDC class, then moved back to the wall for the Pilates, Yoga, etc.) they get bounced/banged about. Calibration is 'lost'. Yes, power readings will be off because the Keiser calculates power based on RPM and gear; the bikes don't actually measure the force on pedals/drive train (they are not measuring power). Gear 5 may feel different as you move from bike to bike, at the same RPM, same perceived effort.

    On the Keiser, I will do a 5 minute 'today's personal power test':
    After warm-up, stop pedalling.
    Move gear lever up and down quickly 2 to 3 times to zero out the computer.
    Ride as hard as you can, steady effort, steady cadence, for 5 minutes.
    Stop pedalling and the computer will flash average watts for the period since being zeroed out (in this case, 5 minutes).
    That number becomes the base for the rest of the class.

    Note that this is not a FTP test. It is only 5 minutes of effort. Understanding FTP, power curves, etc. is not needed for this…it is just a reference point for the rest of the class. Sometimes they will be working at a higher wattage, sometimes less…depends on what you want them to do (or what you tell them to do…versus what they actually do).

    This gives them their own personal base, based on their fitness level and how they feel today, on that specific bike. To paraphrase the YMMV, YBWV (your wattage may vary) for all sorts of reasons…

    I frequently tell my classes to "…get comfortable being uncomfortable…". Some people are more comfortable with higher levels of discomfort than others… It is always their choice. Watts above weight requires a fitness level. As you say, some may not be there.
    Last edited by CycleGuy; 02-18-2016 at 04:32 PM. Reason: clarified power 'measurement'
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