There are people who love spin, and there are people who despise spin; there is nobody in between. There are rumors and misconceptions about spinning, also known as indoor cycling, like, “It’ll make my legs big,” or “It’s only for the outdoor rider.” Let’s put a new “spin” on the subject. We’d like to give you some solid information as to why you should try spinning at least three times before you dismiss it as an effective workout, and five reasons why you need it in your life.
Third Time’s the Charm
If you’ve ever walked into a spin class in a gym or even a studio, you might have been a bit intimidated by the experience. Usually everyone looks like they’ve been riding in the Tour de France since they were 6, or the instructor is wearing an intense getup like a sweatband and leg warmers. Yes, some spin classes are like that. That’s why so many people try it one time and walk (wobble) away, never getting back on the saddle again.
But it’s important to try spinning at least three times for a few reasons:
The first time, it’s to get your feet wet. You have to figure out what the class is all about; you have to learn what second, third and the saddle position entail. You have to figure out if you connect with the instructor, and you have to learn to be (a little) coordinated. The first time is the hardest.
The second time, you’re learning the ropes and you can finally start to feel like your body is swaying to the rhythm of the bike; if not, at least you’re not falling off. This time you’re definitely feeling more capable physically, and not quite as sore.
The third time, something wonderful happens. Not only are you connected to the physical aspect of the bike, but to something deep inside of your mind. This is what we call “cycling transcendence.” Sounds corny, but there’s a reason why places like SoulCycle are so popular. There’s a moment during that (usually) one-hour spin class where a participant feels like he or she just wants to burst out in a joyous song. That third time is where the mind-body connection happens. Never let the fear of looking stupid keep you from going into a spin class. We were all once beginners.
Now that you’ve conquered your first three spin classes, you’re probably wondering, “What is this cycling thing going to do for me physically?” Here are five things:
1. You’ll burn a heck-ton of calories. According to the American Council of Exercise, spinning burns 450 calories in 45 minutes. In some classes you’ll burn more (up to 700) because it’s an hour. It also depends on the amount of resistance you put on the flywheel, which makes it harder to pedal.
2. You’ll become more conditioned. Consistent interval training, according to runnersworld.com, increases your VO2 max, which allows you to utilize oxygen more efficiently, and in turn, your body will become healthier and your heart with become stronger.
3. You’ll burn fat. Spin is made up of high-intensity intervals. It’s another common misconception that the classes are one hour of consistent torture, because a good instructor should push you hard for small amounts of time (think 30 seconds) and then back away to allow your heart rate to recover. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology stated that short bursts of running is just beneficial as logging long miles, and the same can be said for any kind of aerobic exercising. High-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) burns fat by pushing your body to its maximum potential, and then allowing for recovery.
4. You’ll look good. Spinning will tone and shape your legs, butt and core. Another common misconception is that biking will make your legs “big” or “manly.” With the amount of calories that you burn taking a spin class, if you are looking to burn fat while also adding lean muscle, proper nutrition is key.
5. You’ll feel good. If you continuously attend spin classes, you will become addicted to the “high” you feel both physically and mentally after you get off the stationary bike. A study reported by ScienceDaily suggested that biking can also improve mental health, and those who continuously participate in aerobic exercise suffer from depression less.
30-Minute Interval Workout
Fitness is about taking chances and stepping out your comfort zone. When choosing a place to spin, make sure it’s somewhere you feel like you could see yourself consistently going to, and a place you feel is safe and clean. Indoor cycling is about so much more than a workout; it’s about pushing yourself physically and mentally. While it is a challenge, once it’s over the feeling of accomplishment will outshine any doubts you ever had in your ability to defeat the ride.
Here’s a sample 30-minute interval workout that you can do at home if you have a stationary bike, or even in the spin room at the gym:
• Five-minute warm-up: nice and light with three to five turns to the right on the flywheel.
• Three minutes: Second position, light jog out of the saddle, core tight and back erect; pushing and pulling with the obliques and keeping the foot flat while pedaling.
• Three minutes (add one turn to the right): Speed intervals in the saddle – 30-second all-out sprints, and rest for 90 seconds. Repeat.
• Five minutes (add two to three turns to the right): Seated climb in the saddle. Here, your legs should be moving slowly because the resistance is high. Your power should be high as well, which increases strength in your legs.
• Four minutes (add a half-turn one turn to the right): Standing climb out the saddle. Standing climbs are easier than seated because you can use momentum from your legs to power up, but your heart rate should still be elevated at this point.
• Five minutes (two turns to the left): Finish with speed intervals in the saddle – 30-second all-out sprints, and rest for 90 seconds. Repeat for the remaining time. This should burn!
• Five minutes to cool down: Finish the ride with three to five turns on (same as warm-up.)
You can try different variations of these to get different results in your workout! If you want to build up strength, add more resistance (turns to the right) on the flywheel; if you want more toning and cardiovascular endurance, use less resistance and more speed.
Eyestone Ed. How To Improve Your V02 Max. Runner’s World & Running Times. N.p., 09 Jan. 2008. Web. 02 Jan. 2015.
University of East Anglia. Walking or cycling to work improves well-being, researchers find. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140914211056.htm.
Ohta M, Mizoue T, Mishima N, Ikeda M. Effect of the physical activities in leisure time and commuting to work on mental health. J Occup Health, 2007 Jan;49(1):46-52.