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RPM 68 Review

RPM 68 is the 2015 Q4 release. You may also want to check out my comments on just the music.


Track-by-Track Breakdown

Pack Ride – When the Day Comes

  • We stay at half pace for about 45 seconds to start the track, which is a first.
  • I like this simple, bright song to get the class started.
  • This track covers the basics — half pace, medium pace, on pace, base resistance, racing resistance, work, and recovery.
  • Although the sprints aren’t any faster or longer than other Pack Ride tracks, I feel this one gets me breathing harder sooner than others. I guess that’s the purpose, right?

Pace – I Want You to Know

  • This track breaks the four-release trend of Pace tracks without climbs. (The last Pace track with climbs was The Spark in RPM 63.) What flips things around is that the climbs precede every sprint.
  • Once I heard the music, I knew this pop-perfection track would be a fun ride. Even though it’s a standard three block track (short/long/long), there’s plenty to work with in the lyrics to change up the coaching.
  • Memorization was tricky for this one because the first block you reduce after you climb, but not in the other two blocks. The last block has a gear addition during the climbing phase, but the two blocks before it do not.

Hills – Reason (Extended Mix)

  • I don’t have much to add about this track, as it’s pretty textbook (teaser, two blocks, and a short block to finish).
  • Anna Lowery did a wonderful job in the masterclass of bringing energy and challenging the participants even though the music can get repetitive at times. “Can we work harder with more resistance? … You may have to convince me.”

Mixed Terrain – Mr. Brightside

  • Elephant in the room: 148 bpm. I always coach options for those who can’t achieve faster cadences — reduce load, slow down, etc. I had a participant approach me after class to tell me that it’s too fast. It’s one thing to control how heavy the climbs are with resistance, yet there is no gear light enough where this participant could even approach 130 bpm. “If I can’t be on the beat, what’s the motivation to even get to 130?”
  • The breaks between the sprints in the last two blocks seems almost too short, yet I’m sure there’s some science to getting a 15-second pause before a 30-second effort relates to interval training.
  • I liked the coaching suggestion from the masterclass: If you feel yourself slowing, surge onto the beat.

Intervals – Say Goodbye

  • As I mentioned in the music review, this song has an aggressive energy, which is good for power training.
  • Most of the intense effort during the blocks is on the saddle (Power Climb or Racing Forward); other releases have a balance of both Standing Attack and Power Climb.
  • I love Washington’s cue in the last round: “Find a new max!”

Speed Work – Motion

  • This track is a beautiful trance/house song with a simple block structure: build-up, followed by 45-second sprints.
  • The first sprint was coached very specifically — hands at Racing with Racing resistance without being on-pace, so that the only thing to add is the cadence. I was a little disappointed that the other two didn’t use this build-up choreography.
  • Having the quiet in the music before the last block is a great place for level 3 (i.e., motivation) cues.

Mountain Climb – Together (In a State of Trance) (Alexander Popov Remix)

  • Both in terms of music and choreography, this is hands-down my favorite Mountain Climb track.
  • The block structure was pretty easy to memorize — a setup climb, two identical blocks, and a one-minute climb to finish.
  • Point of difference: 30 seconds of double-time Power Climb.
  • Using the reference load technique, and then filling the room with that huge, trance sound to finish out blocks 2 and 3 help make this a solid track.

Ride Home / Stretch – Heartbeat

  • This is a pretty standard recovery track: flush, upper body stretches, lower body stretches.
  • Having a pause in the middle of the flush sprints is a bit weird, but it fits with the music.
  • “Heartbeat” is a catchy tune that ends the class on a positive note.

General Thoughts

One of the many reasons I enjoy Les Mills programs is that every three months, I get new music and slightly different moves to keep things fresh. In this release, climbs have returned to the Pace track, and we had a different type of power training in the Mountain Climb track. Other than the incredibly fast Mixed Terrain track, I’ve enjoyed riding and teaching this release.

The masterclass (and the coaching notes), this release had more emphasis on encouragement during coaching. For example, sometimes there’s a challenging style where you tell participants what to do (e.g., “Don’t slow down”, “Push through”), and other times where you reward their work (e.g., “You did well in the first round”, “Just do your best”). I believe there are times for both styles; this release just had more of the encouragement flavor.

I imagine the energy of the masterclass filming is crazy, yet it bugs me when Glen is coaching one leg speed (e.g., half pace, medium pace) and he’s clearly riding much faster. He also doesn’t use that leg speed cue (“1-2-1-2-1…”) consistently. The idea is that each number lands on a beat where the feet switch positions (e.g., left to right).

I’m not sure what the issue was this quarter, but the choreography notes had tons of errors. Because I use the notes to study, part of my process is to ensure that they jibe with the masterclass before practicing.

Lastly, I know Les Mills has been encouraging instructors to coach the “Smart Start” technique, where we tell new participants that’s is totally acceptable to leave halfway through the class. I don’t do a general announcement about this, because most of my riders are veterans. I check in with folks I don’t recognize before class and tell them individually that they are free to leave or modify their workout. To date, I’ve had no one leave at the halfway point.

See you next time for RPM 69!

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