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!

Erin go ‘sports’ bragh! St. Patty’s Spin Playlist

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This week we celebrated a belated St. Patrick’s Day by spinning our through the Emerald Isle. This trip across the Atlantic was made possible with a multimedia extravaganza that included projecting a larger-than-life first person perspective movie of a bike trip across Ireland onto the big screen!  We pedaled and sweated ourselves through Ireland using the playlist below!

“You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” – Irish Saying

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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.

Double the Fun! A Great Paired /Team Boot Camp Workout!

I typically try to alternate between individual and group games each boot camp session.  I have found that the group games foster a positive and encouraging environment for new boot campers, while the individual challenges allow each participant to focus on tackling individual challenges on their own.  The women empower each other and support each other making this a great pair game!

My favorite (and the group’s favorite) partner activity is our Double the Fun activity.  This game is the most fun in the Spring and Summer months when we are able to be outside and run the “stairs”.  The Double the Fun workout is as follows”

Equipment:  Dumbbells (various weights or bands will work, have students bring their yoga mats)

Ask boot campers to partner up! One member of each pair will run the stairs

The dreaded STAIRS!

while the other does the exercise and then they will switch.  When we run the stairs – up and down counts for 1x- as my participants’ fitness ability increased – we went from 1x on the stairs to 2x.

*note that the exercises listed below are just examples.  I switch out different exercises all the time!

Round ONE:

Sumo Squats ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
V-Sits ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Bicep Curl ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Speed Ladder ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

Round TWO:

Russian Twist ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Plank Ups ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Tricep Dips ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Globe Jumps ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

Round THREE:

Right Leg Lunge ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Left Leg Lunges ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Bicycles ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Burpees ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

By the time this workout is completed, each participant will have run the stairs 24 times.  A feat that amazes the ladies every time we do it!  The most rewarding aspect of this activity is how excited and proud each grrrl is when they realize how much they accomplished and how great they feel!

Girl Power! Why is it so contagious?

This past weekend many of my boot camp participants and friends participated in the first annual Chick-uamegon 5K & 10K.  Despite temperatures in the high 30’s and pouring rain and sleet, over 250 women suited up in the obligatory bling required for an all girl race and hit the pavement.

Pre-Race while we all still were dry and warm. Many of our GRRRLS are missing from this photo but we had quite a crew!

This is a huge number of women for a brand new event in rural northern Wisconsin.  I have long understood the appeal of all female races.  I have run the Run Like a Diva half marathons in two different locations and have participated in many Iron Girl events across the Midwest. Women athletes empower each other. They’re more supportive of each other in training and throughout the race course.  There is a sense of female bonding that takes place and that alone is motivation enough for some women to lace up those athletic shoes each day.

The Northern Grrrls took the race preparations one step further with some additional female bonding over the crafy development of our race fluffies (gigantic furry leg warmers) and tutus. Simple online tutorials on making fluffies and tutus walked us through a night of silly craft making.  It was  a great way for us to get our creative energy out while ensuring that my house will never ever be glitter free again.  At least I cannot say that these events don’t bring *sparkle*to my life…

Showing off our fluffies! These looked more like leg dreadlocks after the mud and rain got to them, but they kept us toasty warm!

In short, it would not have mattered how cold and wet it was on Saturday morning… these ladies were NOT going to miss this event. There were so many women and little girls who were excited and dressed up and ready to meet the weather just so they could surround themselves with other strong women and support each other throughout the event.  I think that is what it is really about – that ancient instinct to stand together as women and support and nurture each other.  Maybe Helen Reddy said it best…♪♪♫♫♪♪

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

With as many challenges as every women has each day I love that racing and fitness can bring us together in a positive way and make each one of us roar just a little bit louder.

Wet and soaked, but still looking fabulous!

Inner Monologue Of A Spin Class Student

Reblogged from: Inner Monologue Of A Spin Class Student | Thought Catalog.

Inner Monologue Of A Spin Class Student

Oh man, why is it so early? Better not look in the mirror. Yep that’s definitely a bad idea. It’s WAY too soon for that. Wait, what is that smell? (*looks down*) Wow, is that coming from my spin shoes? Must address this after class. (*creates new iPhone “note”*). Why is the woman next to me shouting at her friend? It’s 7 a.m. Why is she even making noise? Isn’t the first rule of spin class NO talking? Let’s kick her out. I guess class hasn’t officially begun. Damnit. Can we get this show on the road? Oh crap, there’s a sub today?! Alright, I’m leaving. No, NO. You’re already here. Stay put. This is only an hour of your life. Stop whining. (*takes a sip of black coffee*). Alright, which bike am I? Number 13? Shit I totally forget. Why is this old man looking at me funny? Nothing to see here mister. Except for the red lycra-blend pants I’m wearing. I know they’re not very flattering, but at least they’re clean! Okay, he’s still staring. Avert your eyes buddy. Oh, is this your bike? My mistake. I’m leaving, I’m sorry! Don’t make that face. It’s just a spin bike. Not your actual bike, gosh! I guess this means I’m bike 31? Oh no, is bike 31 under the speakers? Perfect. Jesus, this teacher looks like a giant douche bag. I can see his nipples through his frat boy cut off tee. That doesn’t even look comfortable. But maybe he’ll play some Rihanna? That’d be sweet. Why won’t my red knobby thingy loosen up? Class starts in like 60 seconds and I reeeeeeeeally don’t want to ask this teacher to help me adjust my bike. But really though, whhhhhy won’t this knob buuuuuuudge. Oh wait, there it goes. Thank GOD. Okay first song is… an Akon remix? Strike one, my douchey friend, strike ONE. But there’s still time to redeem yourself. What was that? I’m sorry, I could have sworn you just said, “Crank your resistance up THREE whole turns to the right.” I’m sorry but I am not doing that. I physically CANNOT. We’re not even warmed up yet. This is absurd. I’m just going to carrrrrrefully fake these numerous cranks you’re demanding. One, one and two thirds…“three.” There ya go. Happy now? No one saw me fake that right? Maybe old man on bike 13 with the staring problem did. Whatevs. I’m really glad that Akon song is over. Is this Destiny’s Child?! SAY MY NAME. Throwbaaaaaack. I approve. Are we climbing a hill now? Bring it on. Let’s climb five hills in a row. I don’t even care. This song is everything. Hold on, why are you yelling at us? Intervals? And tap backs? You know what? I’m not coordinated enough for this. I’m going to politely opt out of whatever it is this instructor is currently doing with his arms. Baby push-ups on the bike handles? This feels very silly. And now he’s asking us to rotate our inner thighs toward the floor while we tuck our cores and release our shoulders from our ears? You want me to do WHAT with my pelvic floor muscles? No thanks! I’ve stopped listening. I can’t hear anything over the bass pounding above my head. Alright, I’m already soaking with sweat. Are we there yet? Three more songs?! This guy has lost his mind. Clearly. If he starts playing a One Republic song while shouting new agey BS over the mic, I’m definitely calling it a day. He better not… omg RIHANNA! This. Song. This. Song. How did I ever question this man? I LOVE YOU AND YOUR MUSICAL TASTE. Shine bright like a diamond, shine bright like a diamond. Endorphins. So. Many. Endorphins. Icouldspinforever. Should I quit my job? Spin full time? This feels right. All of this just feels… wait, is the song over? Shit. Wait, CLASS is over?! NOOOOO. I don’t want to go! We’re cooling down? I’m not leaving this bike. I refuse to leave! I love bikes and music and exercise and life! Am I safe to drive? I feel a little bit high right now. Deep breaths. Take some deep breaths. Oh thank God, we’re cooling down… to a Bonnie Raitt cover? Is this Adele? This song makes me feel emotionally unstable. Am I already sore? Wait, am I crying? I need to exit the building. I feel, I feel very vulnerable. Is the instructor leaving already?! Bye dude. I underestimated you. Wait, I wonder if he’ll burn me a copy of his playlist?! Oh look, there goes my pride! And that is my CUE. TC Mark


Read more at http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/inner-monologue-of-a-spin-class-student/#tOq4bCSZFo2z36JF.99

BOO! Spooky Spinning Class!

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I am a sucker for a cheesy themed spin class or workout so imagine my delight at being able to plan a Halloween spin class this week!

I spent a few weeks gathering cobwebs, spiders, costumes, black lights, and a fog machine in order to make this themed event a spooky success! Continue reading