How to select the right spinning bike resistance levels

Setting the right resistance for your spin bike for your home use is more of an art, rather than an exact science. Each individual’s exercise needs is different and it is almost impossible to prescribe the right resistance levels for all using a generic list. The best way is to learn how to find the right resistance levels and apply it to your own exercise regime.


Resistance settings

In general, most spin bikes have 5-6 settings. These settings represent how the resistance levels you will face as if you are cycling on the real road. The most basic setting assumes a downward slope while the most resistance level represent a steep up slope climb.

Which settings you choose will depend on the target you want for your heart rate training.  The higher the setting, the faster your heart rate will increase. What heart rate target in turn, depends on your health level and desired outcome. There are many books written about heart rate training so I will not go through them in detai

The best way to know your current heart rate when using the spinning bikes is to wear a chest strapped heart rate monitor. Most spin bikes have an HR receiver that can take the information from the monitor and display it on the bikes screen when you are using it. This makes it easy to see whether the current resistance levels you are using is strong enough to achieve your desired heart rate training.


How to set the right heart rate training zone

The first step is setting the right target for your hear rate training to know your lactate threshold heart rate. This refers to the point in exercise where you body produces more blood lactate than it can absorb. Most athletics will perform just below this level to make sure they can endure through the entire match.

For us, our target heart rate training is always a percentage of the lactate threshold heart rate. Beginners tend to start at 85% and progressively up to 95%. At that level, you are almost performing at the peak so it will take you a while before you can reach that if you are just starting out.

To find out your lactate threshold, the best way is exercise for 30 minutes and use a heart rate monitor to measure the last 20 minutes. The intensity of the exercise should be that of a competitive nature, i.e. assuming you are competing in some event et al. Taking things too casually during this 30 minute test will bias the result downwards, resulting in an inaccurate and ineffective heart rate training target.



To conclude, the best way to set resistance levels for your spin bikes is to base in on your heart rate target training. This in turn will depend on what is your current lactate threshold heart rate and how far you want to push to that level.

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