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Flywheel 101

By August 12, 2019 No Comments

Written by NYC Flywheel Instructor Sarah Ballan @sarahballan

The Flywheel method is a carefully constructed interval-based cycling workout, consisting of a series of jogs, flats, and hills. Interval based training essentially means different degrees of effort throughout the workout. Flywheel instructors will push you at certain moments and give you (active) recovery during others. Unlike many workouts where numerical measurements can only be obtained from outside devices (ie: Apple watches and Fitbit’s), Flywheel provides you with performance-focused metrics so you can beat your personal records and compete with others – if that’s your thing. 

Once you’re clipped in and begin pedaling, the tech pack, or screen in the center of your handlebars, will light up with a series of numbers. 

Q: What are the 4 metrics on the tech pack? The meaning behind these numbers are as follows: 

A: The top left number is “Torq”. Torq technically means the force that causes rotation, therefore on a bike it is the amount of resistance, which is controlled by the knob in the center of the bike. Turn the knob clockwise, you’ll feel the heaviness, counterclockwise makes it lighter. The top right number on the tech pack refers to RPMs, or “Speed”, how fast you are going. The bottom left number is your “Current.” This number is unique because there are two ways to increase current, either by adding torq or speed.

The bottom right number is your “Power Score,” or the number you see on the TorqBoard (Leaderboard), the TV’s in the front of the room. If you are not on board (hehe) with other riders seeing your numbers and it makes you uncomfortable, feel free to opt-out. 

Q: What is a Power Score?

A: The total number of points you accumulate during the 45-minute ride. The Power Score is the number you see flashed up on the leaderboard. And, you can always opt-out of the TorqBoard.

Q: What is the Torqboard / leaderboard?

A: The Male/ Female scoreboard where all of the Power Scores are displayed in real-time. You can make your Torqboard name whatever you want. It can – and should – be a silly alias.

Think AOL Instant Messenger screen name as opposed to an email address. 

Q: How do I increase my power score? 

A: In order to increase your power score you want to make sure you are riding properly and efficiently, First and foremost comes your form. Without proper form, you run the risk of injury. Here are a few form reminders and tips that will make it easier to turn up the torq. 

1. Perfect your Posture

Posture plays a role in efficiency. Relax your shoulders and lift your chest to open up the airways. It will make it easier to catch your breath if and when you’re feeling winded. Try to remain as tall and straight as possible when you’re seated and in second position:

Second position is really about lifting your body a few inches taller, as you move from a seated to a standing position. Although you remain straight, second position requires a bit more core strength to stabilize. When you move into third position (standing with your arms extended) the most important rule is: do not lean forward. Always slide your hips back (you get used to it, promise).

2. Upstrokes Matter

When you’re pedaling on your bike, your feet are clipped into the pedals. They aren’t going anywhere, so don’t be afraid to pull upwards on your shoes while keeping your foot flat. NEVER point your toes. Instead, focus on sending the movement back through the heel.  The “upstroke” is just as important as driving your heels downward. In fact, if you place more of an emphasis on the “up,” it becomes easier to handle more resistance underneath your feet. Your legs become levers, one pushing to the floor, the other pulling up to the ceiling at the same time. Instead of just focusing on down, down, down, train your body to be mindful of the simultaneous pull. This awareness will give you better muscle control and will help with fatigue. It makes your ride more efficient. This mindset is applicable both in and out of the saddle. When standing, think about driving your knees up towards your chest as you would during a mountain climber exercise on the floor. 

3. Current is Key 

The higher the current, the higher your total power score will be. To optimize your workout and obtain a high power score, make sure to keep an eye on this crucial number. During an interval, ideally, you would want your current to be in the high teens-low twenties. While in active recovery, you are encouraged to back off and let your current drop to the (lower) teens. It’s also important to make sure that the number never drops to zero. Really, don’t do it. You may think it’s easy and fun to go above 130rpm, but let me tell you from personal experience: you will get injured. You get the same exercise high – and feel stronger – when you ride heavier resistance at lower speeds. I’m not saying don’t ever go fast, however, if you do, just make sure you do it safely. If you feel like you’re pedaling against air and your legs are flying uncontrollably, that’s probably a sign you should add some support underneath your wheel. If you need to rest try to keep pedaling and not come to a complete stop. Slow is better than stagnant!