Spinning is a fitness program using a specialized stationary bicycle. Users set goals based on heart rate and simulate different terrain by alternating pace and sitting/standing postures. It's a very effective form of aerobic activity and burns from 400 to 600 calories in 40 minutes. It also strengthens the lower-body muscles. Certain technique and training tips can help you maximize efficiency and safety during your spinning sessions.
Sitting on the Spinner Bike
Beginners often complain about "saddle soreness." If you're new to spinning, start with the handlebars in a relatively high position, your arms at a comfortable distance from the handlebars and your elbows slightly bent. As your flexibility increases you can move the handlebars downward until they are level with the saddle. Instructors say it may take two weeks of up to four classes each week before the ride gets more comfortable and the soreness goes away. Make sure you are perched on the back of the seat and keep adjusting if you notice you've slipped forward. If you're bouncing around on the seat, try tightening the crank until you feel a hint of resistance. If the bike seat slips too low, your knees won't fully extend during the pedal stroke, causing your knees to ache. If the seat is too high, you may move slightly from side to side.
Place the ball of your foot over the center of the pedal and make sure your shoelaces are tucked in and your feet are securely attached to the pedals. When upright, sit high, and when laid out over the bars, elongate your spine. Don't put weight on the handlebars, using them only for balance; otherwise, you may hurt your wrists. Keep your shoulders loose, which will help prevent neck ache.
Excessive upper body movement is inefficient and throws off your balance, possibly straining your back. On hard grinds, however, you can allow yourself to sway gently from side to side as if on a curving country road. Squats and other exercises which isolate the lower body while pedaling can place undue strain on the knees and spine. Instead, try a hill climb in hand position 2. When starting high-resistance hill work, keep your rear end back with the body folded forward while concentrating on using the hamstrings and holding the knees in. Do not pedal backward or with one foot out of the toe cage or cleat. Always focus on your form and on making smooth transitions between movements.
Speed and Heart Rate
For general speedwork, don't ride at a high cadence without any resistance, which will be ineffective on a spinner bike. Instead, ride at 110 rpm or less. But if you begin to bounce in the saddle, increase the resistance. For advanced standing speedwork, stand tall, with ears, hips and bottom bracket in a straight line, keeping the upper body stabilized by tensing your abdominal muscles. Make sure you put no hand pressure on the bars, using only fingertips for balance. Then push your pedaling cadence up to 200 rpm. For advanced sitting speedwork, use very little resistance, sit forward on the saddle, hold in your abdominal muscles to stabilize the hips and upper body, and again, shoot for 200 rpm.
To determine your estimated maximum heart rate, take 210 minus 50 percent of your age minus 5 percent of your body weight (in pounds) + 4 if male and 0 if female. If your cardiovascular fitness is low and if you discover you hit your maximum heart rate too quickly, back off. If you ever feel faint or dizzy, slowly stop pedaling, carefully dismount from the bike and inform your instructor immediately, or call your doctor if you're by yourself. Always keep hydrated, since your heart rate goes up without regular water intake during training. Consider purchasing a heart rate monitor. Learn to use the combination of resistance and speed to smooth out your cadence and manipulate your heart rate.
For seated climbing on a spinner bike, hold in your lower abdominal muscles to help push your rear end to the back of the seat, then push the pedals down with your heels lower than your toes. Keep the heels low when you pull up, too. For standing climbing, hinge at the hips (bend or "hinge" your hips and knees instead of your waist or spine), keep your back straight parallel to the ground and push your nose down to within a few inches of the handlebar.
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