New blog, same content

We have MOVED!  Since we completed some rearranging on how we are currently structured with the roll out of our brand new website, we have a new blog and everything from the Northern Grrrls blog has been moved over to the new site.  We VALUE our blog followers and if you want to keep receiving information from Northern Grrrls, spin playlists, and boot camp workouts… head on over to  grrrlyblog.wordpress.com and follow us!  Thank you!

 

Oh and our new fancy schmancy website can be found at northerngrrrls.com!

The Skinny on Training for a Triathlon / Duathlon with Spin Classes

Wondering if triathletes and duathletes should use spin bikes, or if spin bikes give you as good (or better) a workout as riding your bike outdoors? Here’s the skinny…

Spin Bikes Are Different6ef16836dbebce7096bf3f7c0de89862

The majority of spin bikes are different than normal road, mountain or triathlon bikes because they have a “fly wheel”, which is a 30-40 pound wheel that provides the resistance as you pedal (and which is also the reason that the pedals on a spin bike keep moving after you stop pedaling). Because of this fly wheel, your hamstrings work harder to slow the pedals as they come around. But when you’re outdoors, you’re pedaling against the friction of road resistance and wind resistance, and this motion requires more work from your hip flexors and quadriceps. That fly wheel keeps the pedals spinning after you get the pedals moving, so it’s also very easy to let a spin bike do the majority of the work for you, which is why many people in a spin class appear to be pedaling very fast when they’re actually not doing much work at all.

So, now that you understand the difference between spin bikes and regular bikes, let’s look at whether triathletes/ duathletes will get a bang for their buck actually use spin bikes.

Spinning vs. Cycling – Overall Fitness

Spinning: A study by the American Council On Exercise (ACE) found that indoor spinning on a regular spin bike can keep you at around 75-95% of your maximum heart rate, which is more than adequate for a triathlete to build cardiovascular fitness. Of course, a big part of this heart rate boost could be the heat of an indoor spin room, the peer pressure of spinning classmates, and the motivation of an instructor barking orders in your face. However, as you’ve just learned, spinning tends to use primarily your hamstring muscles because of that fly-wheel, which A) means more help from the spin bike and fewer overall calories burned or muscles strengthened and B) you using far different muscle groups in a different way compared to what you’d experience with outdoor cycling.

Cycling: As you know if you’re a serious triathlete or cyclist, you can easily get your heart rate as high and higher as those in a spin class. But if you’re new to the sport and have a hard time pedaling that fast while balancing the bike, navigating, and not having the motivation of a crowd and an instructor, you may find it easier to build skills on the bike, and then build your cardiovascular fitness in a spin class. But in contrast to a spin bike, you use your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, shins and calves more when you’re on a bike outside – so your muscular fitness will likely be higher (as long as you don’t spend much of your time “cruising”). But once again, you need to be working hard enough to hit those muscles with adequate force to make them stronger and to burn significant calories, and some people just have a hard time riding a bike that hard unless they’re racing.

Fitness Summary: The average triathlete, and especially the beginner triathlete, can get pretty fit in a spin class. But they shouldn’t neglect outdoor riding skills, and if you can get your heart rate high with outdoor rides, you’ll be better served keeping things on the road, or throwing your tri or road bike on an indoor trainer (which doesn’t have a fly wheel like a spin bike does).

Spinning vs. Cycling – Perceived Difficulty
Spinning: When you’re riding a bike indoors, spinning can get boring (this does not apply to Ashland’s fun spin instructors), and it can also use the same muscles over and over again (no ascents and no descents). This can certainly make spinning seem more difficult than cycling. But the pounding music and group/instructor motivation can help with this. Plus, note that a spin class can make time go by much faster compared to just throwing your bike on an indoor trainer.

Cycling: Unless you’re in a race or training with a fast group, cycling goes by much faster and generally feels much easier from an effort standpoint compared to a spin class. But as you take your cycling to the next level, there are technical skills required that can quickly make cycling become more difficult than spinning.

Summing it UP! :

You’re going to get a great workout with both spinning and cycling. But if you’re a triathlete, you’re going to want to be primarily training the muscles you’ll be using during the race, and also getting used to handling your road bike. Especially if you’re a beginner triathlete/duathlete, a spin class is going to give you great motivation and improve your fitness – but unless you’re just doing spin classes because you enjoy the heck out of them (and really WHO DOESN’T?!) – you’ll get more bang for your triathlete buck by riding your bike outdoors the 3 months a year that you are able to in northern Wisconsin!

Thanks to http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com for most of the above information!

A Killer Treadmill Workout

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With temperatures at -16 degrees today the treadmill is the only option! This is the treadmill interval workout we used at our big New Year’s Day event! It is a butt-kicker but will make the 35 minutes fly by!

GET MOVING! Set Your 2013 Fitness Goals Now!

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A new year is almost here and this is the time to set your fitness goals for 2013. Why now? If you set your plan in motion now, you’ll have plenty of time to research new gyms, fitness classes, races, and training groups!

There are an abundance of options to kick off the new year in a new frame of mind. If you need inspiration,  13 Hottest Fitness Trends to Try in 2013  is worth a read!  If you still need help narrowing the scope of what you hope to accomplish, talk to a fitness professional or friend.

If you are not sure where to start in your fitness goals, work on setting your goals on a number of levels:

First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 4 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.

Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your BIG goals. Make these achievable! You want to set small goals for each month and week as you work towards meeting the larger overall goal! For example… Ride 40 or miles each week in June,July, and August (then you’ll be read y for the September Iron Girl and also be working towards overall fitness).

Finally, once you have your plan, GO! There is not any point in “waiting till Monday” or “starting after the holidays”. Once you have your plan, move into action!

Find a supportive friend or group of friends with similar goals and share your plan with them.  You will be amazed at how much a bit of peer support can help you along the way!
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Thinking of Doing a DU?

2012-10-07JustDuItpic (1)If you are like most people you may find the idea of a triathlon intimidating because of the swim portion.  There is something very scary about an open water swim if you do not consider yourself  the equivalent of Michael Phelps.  For most of the population an open water swim with hundreds of other people is terrifying.

 

ENTER: the duathlon.  All the fun and none of the fright

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2012 Northern Grrrl Finishers at Iron Girl- Bloomington!

Do not confuse a duathlon with a biathlon (the Olympic term for skiing and shooting at the same time).  A duathlon is a run-bike-run combination and they vary in length from short to ultra distances.  Duathlons are growing in popularity and popular events series like the Iron Girl have added them to their line-ups.  The Iron Girl- Bloomington duathlon is one of my favorite annual “must do” events!

How do you train for a duathlon?

Good news… if you can run and bike you can complete a duathlon.  I have found at many of the duathlons there is not any rule to the kind of bike and gear you need.  You need a bike- be it a cruiser, mountain bike, or road bike, running shoes, and a helmet.  Some  basic bike maintenance knowledge is helpful in case you get a flat, but there are always support vans on the course too just in case!

As with any event you do need to train.  The kind of training will depend on the length of the duathlon course.  A 12-week training program such as this one will get you started, but as with any new training program be sure to get the A-OK from your physician.  To train properly you should plan to spend 9-12 hours per week to training.  This is only a recommended amount of training time- depending on where you fall in the fitness spectrum you may need more or less. Strength training, over the winter months will also be beneficial to your overall fitness.

This is also an excellent link for a  beginner training plan.  You will begin to get the idea as you look through these.  Don’t get caught up in the message boards about  expensive gear and what you will need unless you plan to try to place in your age group or will be aggressively racing.  Just have fun with it.  The ladies I have trained for the duathlon have loved every minute of the race and it really is for anyone.  I think I love the Athleta Iron Girl Series so much because it is overflowing with positive inspiring women of all ages and abilities.

SO GO DU IT!

Winter Workout Tips

Winter

The Northern Grrrls may be used to frigid Wisconsin winter temps, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to force ourselves out the door into temperatures in the teens to get that workout in! We have started our Runners World #RWRunStreak challenge and it is truly helping push us all to get outside or on the treadmill for that extra workout! See the blog from greatestwealthishealth below for more tips on how to break those winter blues!

Winter Workout Tips.

via Winter Workout Tips.

You Don’t Need Compression Clothing. You Need Heart & Attitude to Meet Fitness Goals.

Are we obsessed with our running gear?

Are we obsessed with our running gear?

“People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.”  ~Lee Mildon

When I started running and hitting the gym I found myself thinking so many times that I was not good enough, or didn’t  have expensive fancy schmancy enough gear, or I was not as “athletic” looking as I needed to be in order to enter a race or show my face in the weight room. I would look around at the expensive shoes and brightly colored wicking shirts and feel extremely intimidated when I first started to race.  I will never forget the first time I saw an older man in cotton cargo shorts, a pair of old shoes, and what appeared to be his wife’s cotton t-shirt at the start line of a marathon.  I was horrified that he was going to run in such attire, but then I really started to think that it is not about the clothes or the gear or how much you money you spent on your shoes.  Fitness, racing, and workouts are about heart and attitude. Period.  If you haven’t made the investment in your training and mental fortitude… well, it doesn’t matter how much you paid for your new compression shorts.

You need a few basic items to workout:

  • comfortable shorts or pants
  • a decent shirt- cotton will work, but wicking is better if you can afford one
  • ladies- get a good sports bra.  Your ta-tas will appreciate it.  Sports bras should be replaced after 75 washes or if you lose a significant amount of weight
  • running / athletic shoes (some will disagree you need these and that is okay too- barefoot running is huge trending change in the sport)

… now let me say a few things about running shoes…

This article by Runner’s World provides some insight into one of the most commonly made mistakes by new runners – get the glittery fun colorful shoes and pay no attention whatsoever to body mechanics.  I completely understand the draw of fancy shoes.  As a pronator, I require stability running shoes and until recently there was very little to choose from in terms of color and style in a functional motion control shoe.  The neutral runners had greater choice in their footwear, but I was relegated to simple boring shoes.  This is no longer the case, but the danger still exists to go for the sparkly or neon shoes.  Go to a running store.  Get fitted and get shoes that are right for you.  Your knees and hips will thank you.

If you want to read a humorous additional take on the subject of what kind of gear you need to get a good workout in, check out Hamilton Nolan’s article here.

Spin Class: Give it a Whirl! Here’s What You Might Want to Know as a Newbie.

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If you are one of the many who gather outside my spin class door looking thru the glass, you might be thinking “I wonder if that is fun? Those people are sweating like pigs, but they are smiling… ” OR ” i’d like to try that sometime…”

Well… COME ON IN and give it a spin (pun fully intended).

An indoor cycling, or more commonly known “spin” class is nothing to fear. New spin students may want to check the tips provided in this article and those I have included below. Also, a good spin instructor will spend some time with you helping you get properly fitted to your bike. However depending how many new students there are and how pressed for time the instructor is- it is good to know the basics of how to set up your bike. This video will show you the basics of how to get the bike set up. This blog entry also provides some great background and tips on the vernacular that you will encounter in spin class!

These are the other basic tips that I always provide to my new students…

1. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early and I will help you get your bike set up and go over basic safety and spin instructions. As long as the studio is empty we will be able to get in and get to work!

2. Bring water- a bike water bottle works best but any water bottle will work!

3. If you have bike shorts- your sit bones and nether regions will thank you!. If not no big deal! Just wear something comfortable and cool and tennis shoes. If you have long hair, a head band or ponytail is best to keep sweat out of your eyes.

4. Bring a small towel for wiping off sweat and your hands.

5. My classes are all about fun and getting a great workout so don’t be nervous if you are an indoor cycling newbie! I will help you throughout the class and assist you in maintaining proper form ( and feel free to ask questions). I want you to LOVE coming to class!

6. Class lasts for 60-65 minutes with 4 minutes of warm-up and 4 minutes of cool down.

There really is nothing to fear about trying out an indoor cycling class. Yes. You will sweat buckets. Yes. Your legs will burn. But I think you will find that you like it!