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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Interval Training = Faster. Stronger.

STRONGER. FASTER.
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Interval Training is the name of the game for those of you runners who are looking to set new PRs in upcoming running races! The new Trek Express class on Thursday nights will help you incorporate interval and speed work into your weekly workouts. There are also several treadmill workouts listed on the my Pinterest board that you can do at the gym or at home.

Interval training has been used by athletes for years to build fitness. Interval training combines short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. An early form of interval training, “Fartlek” (a Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’) was casual and unstructured. A runner would simply increase and decrease his pace at will.

How Interval Training Works

Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to “pay back” this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy. It’s thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training adheres to the principle of adaptation. Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burn-out. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way add cross training to an exercise routine.

No matter what the addition of interval workouts will likely improve your overall fitness. Just be sure to use common sense and start slowly at a level that is commensurate with your current fitness ability and:

Warm Up before starting intervals
Assess current conditioning and set training goals that are within your ability
Keep a steady, but challenging pace throughout the interval
Build the number of repetitions over time
To improve, increase intensity or duration, but not both at the same time
You can also use circuit training as a form of interval training

The information above is adopted from Active.com

What to Look for in a Personal Trainer

Recently, Fitibie had a great article on 5 Things to Look For in A Personal Trainer and then one of my favorite bloggers, StrongFitBeautiful, expanded on the topic even more. Both did a fantastic job capturing all the things to consider when looking for a personal trainer- so I’ve summarized all the tips below!

1. Your personalities click
Trainer tip: Don’t be afraid to shop around
Personality is paramount when it comes to considering working with a trainer. A trainer can have all the qualifications and experience in the world, but if you don’t connect, then it will be difficult to develop a relationship that leads to commitment and success. I always encourage potential clients to interview me during our initial assessment to make sure our personalities match.

2. They put their clients before the program

Trainer tip: The first session will say it all
Going through a workout at the first session can be a sign of a bad trainer. It is impossible to receive personal training until the trainer knows the person behind the program they are creating. Your trainer should become familiar with your goals, history, likes and dislikes, schedule, current movement abilities, and areas of pain.

3. They’re all ears and a lot of heart
Trainer tip: Make sure you do most of the talking
A good trainer has good listening skills, a compassionate disposition, and generally feels like someone with whom you connect personally.

4. They never stop learning
Trainer tip: They are committed to their own ongoing education
Make sure your trainer has a NCCA-accredited personal training certification and also has committed to ongoing learning by attending workshops and conferences. The fitness industry changes at warp-speed, so it’s important for all fitness pros to stay up with the latest trends, knowledge, and practical ways to deliver results.

5. They know why it’s called personal training
Trainer tip: Be sure the workout is about  your specific goals
When you pay top dollar for one-on-one workouts, you deserve more than a canned workout. While every trainer has some favorite moves that they may use for multiple clients, your workout should be very specific to your goals, your shortcomings, and your level. Be sure that your trainer focuses on your individualized needs–and doesn’t just give you the same workout she gives every client.

6. They have references
Trainer Tip: If you know people who are like you who love their trainer- it’s a good bet you might too!
Do a background check. No, I’m not talking do they pay their bills on time – but rather their experience.  Which professional certifications do they hold? How long have they been training? All of these are great questions to ask to make sure you are working with a qualified professional – not just somebody who looks like they work out a lot. You can look up most trainers on IDEAFit or other sites. Here is an example (yep it’s mine) of a trainer profile!

7. It Needs to Be the RIGHT FIT for Both of YOU!
Trainer Tip: You will be spending a lot of time with this person so make sure it works for you both.
Your training should fit your life – and your schedule. If you know you aren’t going to be out of bed and to the gym by 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, find another time (and if necessary, another trainer). Many trainers will still charge your hourly fee if you don’t keep your appointment time – and you aren’t going to make any gains (or losses) if you aren’t committed to putting the work in! Also, be clear about what you want to accomplish in training. A trainer can only help you achieve your goals if he or she is clear on what they are. Are you trying to lose weight? Bulk up? Feel healthier? Different goals require different strategies – and just like people are not one size fits all, neither is training.

Perhaps above all, your trainer should be upbeat, motivational, and committed to helping you become a better version of yourself.what-doesn-t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger-p-source

Belly Button to Spine… What Does That Mean?!

At Boot Camp the other night I had a student ask about proper abdominal contraction during ab workouts. My response was the often heard “…ensure your belly button is drawn back towards your spine”. She looked at me like this ————–>

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Here is a better explanation of this concept…

Are you sitting down? Okay, sit up straight, and try this.

Suck in your gut as much as you can. Notice how you feel as if your belly button turns up. Your waist sucks in. It’s also quite difficult to breath.

Let that out. 🙂

Now, imagine you are using your stomach muscles (abs) to pull your belly button backwards. Not back and up, just straight back. So that your belly button touches (of course it won’t literally) your spine.

You should notice that it feels more muscular, less tummy-sucking, and that your belly button feels straighter, not tipped up, and that breathing is a lot easier than sucking in your tummy.

I notice that when I suck in my tummy my spare roll above sucks in nicely. But when I pull my belly button to my spine it doesn’t anywhere near as much.

Check out the blog entry Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back for a better explanation of the reasoning as to why your back may hurt when doing an ab workout. Here is a great brief article from Livestrong.com too…

Muscle Contractions
When doing ab exercises, make sure to use muscle on the way up and down, and pause in between each movement. Don’t let gravity bring you down after an upward movement. This will create concentric, eccentric and isometric muscle contractions. You’ll get the most benefit from eccentric muscle contractions, such as lowering yourself during a crunch or sit-up. Don’t let yourself fall back down after you sit up — slowly lower yourself using your core muscles. Introduce constant tension by not lowering yourself all the way after a crunch, sit-up or pull-up. If you keep your shoulders off the floor after lowering yourself from a sit-up or crunch, you’ll keep tension in your ab muscles, creating isometric contractions.

Direction
To increase the benefit of your ab workouts, move side to side, not just forward and back. For example, in addition to doing crunches by moving up and down, reach across your body with one elbow toward the opposite knee. Lie on your side and raise your shoulders off the floor to work your obliques, located on the side of core. Use a medicine ball to do twists. Hold the ball at arms’ length in front of you. Turn to the side using your core, then hold the ball. Return to the center, then move in the opposite direction. Change the technique by placing the ball on the floor, next to your hip each time. If you use an ab wheel, roll forward and backward, then add forward rolls veering to the left and right to work the obliques.

Compensatory Movements
You can work your abs using a variety of exercises. You can use an ab wheel, kettlebell, stability ball, medicine ball, weight machines or do body weight exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, hip raises, bicycle kicks or kipping pull-ups. With all of these exercises, it’s important to use your core muscles to perform the movements to prevent back and neck strain. As you begin to tire during your workout, avoid using your hips and back to help you move up or down — this could lead to a back injury. Don’t pull yourself up with your hands if you have them behind your neck during sit-ups and crunches.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/375907-ab-workout-techniques/#ixzz2M1YIgUka

Hearts on Fire Event a HUGE Success

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Participants and instructors from the Hearts on Fire event show their love!

On Sunday I celebrated Valentine’s Day and showed my love of fitness by hosting a fundraiser for the Chequamegon Health & Fitness Center. A few other AMAZING instructors donated their time and energy to the Hearts on Fire fundraiser which included Zumba, Intro to CrossFit, Spinning, and a Kickboxing Circuit. The event was designed to not only raise funds for the gym, but also to expose women to fitness options other than the standard treadmill and elliptical. We rotated the group through the various workouts and it was a huge success as 24 women participated in 120 minutes of frantic fitness FUN!  I ran the kickboxing circuit portion of the evening and even though the physical space and available equipment limited the possible stations, we had a great time! The ladies loved being able to punch and kick their way through the evening!  Below is the workout, which you will see had adaptations for plyo and conditioning stations as well so that we could accommodate the number of people who participated!

Hearts on Fire Kickboxing Circuit:   = 24 minutes plus instruction and cool down…= 30 min

1 minute at each station – use tabata timer

Station 1: Heavy Bag (N) Round Jab Cross Combo (rounds 1 & 3) Hooks on round 2
Station 1a: Jump Rope
Station 2: Heavy Bag (S) Roundhouse rapid fire kicks (1 minute each leg, or 30 seconds x 2)** on these kicks work on power and exhale with every kick making sure to pivot and rotate your hips for full contact.
Station 2a: Burpees
Station 3: Speedbag Speedbag play – slow and steady and increasing as coordination improves
Station 3a: Push ups
Station 4: Maize/ heavy bag Rapid Fire Uppercuts (round 1 & 3)
Station 4a: Alternating punches in a sitting/horse stance

Can also add in a jumping jack station, bicep curls, squat bar, shoulder press, weighted v-sits,

Testimonials

This week in preparation to take Northern Grrrls to the next level (more to come 🙂 ) I asked some of the current grrrls e91ad4fcde303b8cc02ec64679255640to give testimonials and their thoughts on what the Northern Grrrls group means to them and to describe what they have accomplished due to participation in the group. The testimonials I received back were heart warming, uplifting, and inspiring. Most of their comments had similar themes – They could now do things they never thought possible and the support of a peer group of women has kept them inspired and on track. I know that everyone seeks a little inspiration now and then and for me all these testimonials remind and affirm the importance of the group and our little fitness family. I have so MANY other testimonials other than these that I am saving for future motivation and support of our Grrrls!  Read on and find your inspiration!

“…my entire attitude and outlook on physical fitness was changed. I went from believing everything was beyond my ability, to believing no goal is beyond my reach. Her attitude and motivation filtered through to all aspects of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful!” – L. G., Ashland
 

“I want to get up and go to boot camp and spin class. I have never liked working out before, but now I cant wait to go. Mari shows each and everyone of us how great we all are, and what we are capable of doing.” – K. P., Ashland

 

“…bootcamp has changed my life. I am stronger person both body and soul. Mari motivates, inspires, and brings everyone together as a team and works her hardest to help everyone achieve their personal goals.” – A. A., Ashland

 

“I am learning how to make lifetime changes to my health and fitness goals. Mari is always well informed and will stress the importance of not only exercise but also proper nutrition. The Northern Grrrrls bootcamp has had a huge impact on so many women in our community, for me personally Mari leaves me feeling like there is nothing I can’t achieve!” – J. O., Ashland 

“I have been working out with Mari for about eight months now through Bootcamp, Running and Bike training and soon to be training for a triathlon! Mari is always a positive source of inspiration, reinforcement and a great source of health and fitness information! In this short time, I have seen positive changes in the shape of my body and I have improved times on my running and endurance. I look forward to my own continued successes, as well as others in our group!” – J. M., Ashland

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!

Alcohol & Exercise?… We are in Wisconsin after all.

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Enjoy the occasional spirit? Really look forward to a beer after a long day at the gym? It can be confusing to understand the fitness community’s stance on drinking when they now market a beer to runners and have created an entire line of alcohol that is “Skinny”.

The fitness industry’s anti-alcohol stance is due, in large part, to the (lack of) nutritional content contained in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol, the type of alcohol found in drinks, has toxic metabolic byproducts called acetaldehyde and acetate. Both by-products help create that queasy nauseous feeling you get when you’ve put a few too many back. Chronic ingestion of alcohol can also mess with your digestion, making it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients like amino acids, B vitamins, and impairs protein synthesis. One study also suggests that two to three beers per day can lower a man’s testosterone levels.

Alcohol consumption can also mess with a carefully planned out diet. Many alcoholic drinks are calorically very dense and packed with sugar. If you’re mixing your alcohol with things like energy drinks or juices from concentrate, or even having a few glasses of wine, you are giving yourself a sugary rush with each sip. Let’s also not forget that alcohol totally impairs your judgment. Those late night post-bar pizza runs can’t be too good for your summer beach body.

However, if users are able to practice some moderation with alcohol, a drink or two on occasion will not effectively poison your body and make you irreparably fat. There are some studies that suggest moderate alcohol consumption can provide health benefits. Much has been made of the heart healthy components of a glass of red wine, but did you know that moderate beer consumption can improve your immune response and can reduce harmful C-reactive proteins (linked to heart disease)? All in all, alcohol is harmful when overdone. It can mess with your digestive system, liver, and diet. But if done within moderation and with clear judgment, it can be beneficial, and of course a ton of fun. – Men’s Fitness Magazine, Zack Barangan, NCSF-CPT

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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