Class Terms to Know — Cycling from A to Z

When it comes to cycling, it’s not just the techniques we have to learn, there’s also related verbiage that we need to have mastered in order to get the most out of our time in the saddle. If you’ve ever taken a brief mental note mid-ride to Google that buzzword your instructor just dropped, this article’s for you! This quick and simple cheat sheet will have you talking and feeling like a total pro come your next ride.

Aerobic: The level of exercise that allows your body’s need for oxygen to be met. You can sustain this level for long periods of time.

Anaerobic: This refers to levels where your body’s need for oxygen cannot be met (for example, intense 30-second sprints).

Attack: This may sound like a sprint, but it’s meant to represent a strong push away from the pack in class.

BPM: Beats per minute refers to tempo riding, most prominent in classes that focus on matching speed to the music.

Cadence: This refers to the number of cycles your feet make during a full 60 seconds.

Clip In: This refers to attaching your shoes to the pedal. Shoes that you rent or borrow from the studio will attach to the pedal, allowing you to stay safely in position to ride.

Hammer: This is common cycling slang that often gets used to describe your energy level during high resistance and how hard you press against it.

Oxygen Debt: This refers to the amount of time you need to recover from your anaerobic push.

Position: If you’re confused by the numbers, we’ve got you. “One” refers to the base of your handles, where your hands are parallel with your hips. “Two” refers to the hook in the handlebars. “Three” refers to holding the top of your handlebars. “Four” (depending on the studio) refers to holding the inner rounded bar and resting your elbows on the bars below.

Power: If you’re taking a class that’s focused on metrics (like Flywheel), you’re likely to hear this. Power refers to the overall force your body is generating, which is a calculation of your speed and resistance level.

Set Up: This refers to fitting your body to the bike. Since our bodies are all different, it’s super important to make sure your bike fits your body in order to stay safe from injuries and get the most out of your class.

Tap Back: This is an exercise that refers to shifting your hips and weight backward into your heels and saddle. Make sure you activate your core first and glutes second to get the most out of this move.


Mandy Gragg is a New York City-based certified personal trainer and an active fashion and beauty blogger. She shares her fitness, fashion, and skincare tips on her blog Haute Unofficial. Follow her sporty adventure on Instagram for more fitness, beauty, and active fashion inspo.