Stomps: High-Resistance, High-Intensity Intervals for Indoor Cycling (Very Cool)

If you do cycling workouts and have ever done stomps, you may think I’m crazy when I say this, but I’ve always liked them. They’re extremely tough but appeal to that twisted part of me that enjoys hard training.

If you’re an outdoor cyclist or an indoor cycling instructor, you probably have that part, too.

Stomps are designed to increase power in the saddle. Chris Carmichael is generally given credit for them; his guidelines involve 20-second stomp intervals outdoors. The indoor program I taught followed the format below.

Because stomps are difficult and can stress knees and lower back, a solid warm-up is essential. Roll the legs for several minutes, then run this pattern several times: 2:00 seated at 110-120 rpm; 1:00 of 80-rpm standing runs; 1:00 seated with resistance at 80 rpm; 1:00 of recovery at 90 rpm.

A stomp interval is 60 seconds; recovery is 60 seconds. Allow 25 minutes or more for a set of 5, a 5-minute break, and another set. The break can be longer. Resistance during stomps is very high and drops during recovery. Recovery cadence is individual, but I suggest 90 to 100 rpm.

Stomp at a strict 80 rpm. Fatigue will tend to slow the legs, so it helps A LOT to have an 80-rpm song to beat-match. We often use Hallogallo by Neu! It’s a precise 80 rpm and is 10 minutes long, which helps sustain the energy of the training. Repeat or change music for the second set.

Keep the body centerline on the bike. Don’t move side to side, as you would in climbing. Keep hands in position 1.

Rules for a beautiful, circular pedal stroke don’t apply during stomps. Exaggerate the down-stroke and smash against the resistance, without moving the body side to side. I cue it as “punching the pedals.”

Heart rate isn’t the point; however, there are no heart rate limits on this exercise. If you or your riders are seriously stomping without modifying the resistance, heart rate can spike quite high. (Intervals under 60 seconds may yield lower rates.)

Avoid “mushy” cueing. One instructor would cue his class with, “Okay, you guys, do another stomp now.” There’s no way that will elicit a rigorous stomp interval from your riders.

Instead, start cueing about 5-6 seconds before the interval. In a firm voice, say, “And load the bike… AND… STOMP!” The slight pauses and the delivery should time the word “stomp” with the first second of the interval. Cue time at about 30 seconds and with 10 seconds to go.

Find some feature on the resistance knob to mark the resistance used on the last stomp. It’s much easier than trying to re-determine resistance for each interval. Cue that reminder for your riders.

Resistance can be ferocious during stomps. Every time I do them – about 8 times per year – I notice I can still raise the resistance for each interval, despite growing leg fatigue as the training proceeds. Don’t ask me to explain that, but it’s too consistent to be a fluke. It happens even when I do the training on my own. You might cue your riders to keep increasing the resistance so they get the added strength and power benefit.

If you use high-intensity intervals in your workouts or your classes, this training could fit right in with that approach. With the emphasis on strength and resistance, stomps offer a change from, say, speed intervals.

Stomps are a killer workout.

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