During lockdown 2.0, I did all four of Peloton’s four-week programs at the same time. OK, that’s a mouthful of a title, so let me explain…
One of the joys of Peloton’s home workout classes is that with thousands of on-demand classes, you can choose exactly whatever you feel like doing, whenever you feel like doing it. Plus, you don’t have to own the bike as all of their classes are available on their app for a modest monthly fee.
I’d long heard talk of their structured programs – where they lay out groups of classes in progression-based series – but never found a reason to deviate from my “find which classes play 90s indie songs and just do them” approach to workout planning. But with month-long Lockdown: The Sequel on the horizon and pretty much nothing else to do, I thought I’d set myself a challenge – completing all four of their main programs simultaneously, across the four weeks.
Discover Your Power Zones
How it works:
Power Zone training – on the bike – promises to “level up” your fitness. Your power zones are seven different levels of intensity based on a combination of your cadence on the bike and your resistance. Everyone’s power zones are different – you take a test at the start and the end of the program – essentially riding flat out for 20 minutes – to work out what’s called your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and your zones are then based around the result of that test. Got it? Good.
The program consists of four to five 30 to 60-minute classes each week – some focused on endurance, some on, well, power – and you tend to spend anywhere from two right up to nine minutes in a certain intensity zone.
I love this program. It forces me to take classes with instructors I wouldn’t usually try, I really feel the progression as my endurance builds over the course of the month, and being able to measure your progress with a “simple” test really appeals. But more on that in a bit.
Full disclosure: these are the classes where I tend to turn off the sound, turn on the captions and watch an episode of Gossip Girl as I get stuck into those long intervals. Whatever gets you through, right?
How it works:
As simple as the title suggests, this is a program to teach you the basics of strength training, and build it by focussing on upper, lower and full body classes using weights. It works for anyone with any level of previous strength experience – you just up the weights if you’re a seasoned lifter.
Guided by Andy Speer, you take three to four 30-minute classes each week, focussing on different muscle groups. At the start and end you take a simple test: how many weighted squats and how many press ups can you do in one minute?
It is good to get some structure around my strength training. The classes feel like they could actually be 20 minutes in length for all the talking Andy does in between sets, but who doesn’t welcome a little mid-burn anecdote break? And again, this one’s appeal is that you get to test your progress at the start and end.
How it works:
If you’re not familiar with Tabata training then I suggest you turn around and run. Kidding. You won’t be able to run after a Tabata class with Robin anyway. It’s based on the principle of 20 seconds on (hard intervals), 10 seconds off (I stop my legs completely, trust me) and it hurts.
The program has you doing 30 or 45 minute Tabata classes several times a week with some low impact rides in between. The pièce de résistance is in week four when you have two 45-minute Tabata rides in two days. Yep.
OK, I love this one as firstly I’m a glutton for punishment and secondly, Robin Arzon rules. She’s the queen of training – firm but funny, with good music choices and mottos which stay the right side of cheesy. Tabata is the class which really makes you feel like you’ve achieved. There is absolutely no hiding. And no Gossip Girl.
Crush Your Core
How it works:
Ah, core. Something that many of us have drummed into us as being really important in exercise, but – if you’re like me – can’t really be bothered to invest the time in. Enter Emma Lovewell, who I like to think of as a smiling assassin. Her core program has you taking five core classes a week of between five and fifteen minutes. There’s planking, sit ups, games involving your towel… all the classics.
This is the program which surprises me the most. I used to be known to conveniently need the bathroom at my running club every time they stopped to do 10 minutes’ core, but I find myself really enjoying the almost-meditative nature of Emma’s no-fuss classes.
4/5 – only loses a point because some of the classes are repeats rather than being fresh ones each time.
Which Peloton program is best?
Would I recommend taking all four of these at the same time? Firstly, it’s probably not the smartest idea as I realise that I haven’t had a single rest day in 28 days which as everyone knows, is pretty stupid and directly against every trainer’s ethos. Practically, you have to really map out the classes to make sure you’re not overloading certain days with the harder classes. It also means that I haven’t run in a month, which is the longest I haven’t run in about ten years.
But for me, the progression has been more than worth it, which is probably why the power zone program was my favourite. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve added 26 points to my FTP score in four weeks, and can now do 15% more weighted squats in a minute and 50% more push ups. But most importantly, I think I might actually be enjoying core work. Who knew?