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!

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Sub-zero temps got you down? Jump on Spin Airways for an affordable escape!

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The weather in Northern Wisconsin is positively miserable. It’s been below zero (think -27, not -5… my gosh we live in NORTHERN WI, it takes arctic chill before we flinch much) for a few days now. I decided my Thursday night class needed a tropical ESCAPE to warmer climates!

Here is the playlist we used to spin our way through the Caribbean and Mexico! Add in an inflatable palm tree, fun disco lighting, and some frozen “drinks” (Crystal Light Mocktails) post workout and it was just the vacation we all needed!

Here’s the playlist! This was probably one of my favorite classes so far!

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Tuesday Night’s Build Your Own Spin Playlist

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Here is the Tuesday night playlist they created.

Last week I posted here about how much my regular Thursday night spin class enjoyed the opportunity to submit song titles for a “Build Your Own” spin playlist.  I was thrilled with the songs that they submitted and we had a great time in class!  This week it was Tuesday’s turn and this class was no exception as they  enjoyed hearing some of their favorite (and their classmates’ favorite) songs while getting their workout in.  I can tell you that there was some good-natured ribbing by classmates and the generational differences were evident in their song choices, but the class flew by!

The popularity of personalization can’t be ignored.  The rise of interest in products from NikeID, Shutterfly, and other markets has been exponential.  Personalization is breathing new life into many of  products, resulting in growth in new markets.  So if consumers want personalization- why not take that same concept into the gym and our fitness classes when we can?

Build Your Own Spinning Playlist Was A Hit!

This week I gave my spin classes  the opportunity to create their own playlist!  Each person in each of my classes submitted the songs they wanted and I told them I would make it work.  Last night was the first class that we used their customized playlist and it was a ton of fun!  I was pleasantly surprised by how well many of the songs worked for spin!  And while the playlist was a bit schizophrenic, jumping from 90’s pop to current metal hits, each spinner was visibly excited when their song popped up in the order!  Here is the playlist I was able to create from my Thursday night class.  I can’t wait to see how much fun we have on Tuesday when it is their turn!

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Holiday Spin Class

I’ve previously noted in other posts that I LOVE any excuse to have a themed spin class.  I had a ton of fun with our Spooky Halloween Spin Classes in October and have been anxiously awaiting the need for another cheesy holiday themed playlist. Enter… Christmas & Hanukkah!

Even Santa like to cycle!

Even Santa likes to spin! 

I have had the playlist under construction for the past three weeks and I have to say I am thrilled with the final Ho Ho Ho Ho-liday Playlist!  I get to teach this class three times this week!  Thankfully I HEART Christmas music so I won’t want to scratch my eyes out after listening to these songs three times in four days.

Last night was the first of the three classes and I hung Christmas lights around  the room s and took the Mr. Christmas projector temporarily out of our front yard (these are amazing and it makes it look like snowflakes are falling throughout the room). The whole environment was very festive and all the students even came in their own festive attire. My own Santa hat only lasted through the warm-up, but it was fun for those couple of songs!  We had a lot of fun and it really got the class into the holiday spirit!

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!