What is Spinning? A Guide to Spinning from My Fitness Boutique
What is spinning?
You will have probably heard of people attending spinning classes, or seen advertisements for same online and in print media, and you may wonder what is this spinning craze that seems to have taken off so enormously.
In short, spinning is a cycling workout with a very high intensity and sessions normally last for 40-60 minutes. It is a cardio workout set to music and is taught by a fully qualified instructor, with the lengths of classes and intensity of workouts varying according to the fitness and experience level of participants.
The beauty of spinning, in comparison to many other gym class workouts, is that you can do the vast majority of the exercise at your own pace. It is not a competition and nobody is going to give you a dressing down if you can’t keep up with other people in the class. Also, despite the workouts being set to music, you don’t need to have a perfectly choreographed rhythm if that’s something of which you’re self-conscious. It is a low impact workout, which makes it suitable for people with joint problems, as well as those seeking an exercise to nicely complement high impact alternatives such as running.
When you go into your spinning class, there will be an instructor telling those present to add resistance, go flat out for 30 seconds, slow down pedalling, etc. This isn’t done in a drill sergeant manner, though. It’s advisory more than anything else, and the instructor won’t scream at you if you’re finding it difficult. They are there to motivate, encourage and help you, not to criticise.
Here is an excerpt from a typical spinning class to give you an idea as to what it is.
Great spin bike workouts to get you started
There are dozens of spin bike workouts that you can attempt, ranging from those which are ideal for beginners to more rigorous exercises that should only be attempted by someone with plenty of spinning experience. Here are some spin bike workouts that provide a good challenge for novices without being overly exhausting.
• Pedal fast for four 1-minute intervals, with 2 minutes of recovery between each interval. Select an easy gear and cycle at high cadence with a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 5.
• Pedal easily for 5 minutes.
• Pedal fast and then slow for 30 seconds each, doing 10-12 of these intervals. For the fast portion of each interval, cycle at high cadence with an RPE of between 9 and 9.5.
• To make it more challenging at a later point, add more 1-minute fast/slow intervals, but don’t do any more than 20.
• Raise the front wheel of the bike to simulate the experience of cycling uphill.
• Pedal for 10 minutes at an RPE of 8. After every 2 minutes, pedal for 12-15 strokes at maximum effort.
• Pedal easily for 10 minutes.
• Repeat the exercise.
• To make it more challenging at a later point, increase the RPE 8 pedalling time to 15 minutes.
• Pedal for 4 minutes at RPE 8, then 3 minutes at RPE 9 and finally 1 minute at maximum effort.
• Pedal easily for 5 minutes.
• Do the first step in reverse (i.e. 1 minute all-out, then 3 minutes at RPE 9 and 4 minutes at RPE 8).
• Pedal easily for 10 minutes.
• Repeat the exercise.
• To make it more challenging at a later point, add an extra minute to each rung of the ladder, i.e. 5 minutes at RPE 8, 4 minutes at RPE 9 and 2 minutes all-out.
In addition to doing these workouts as outlined above, there are some key points to note before attempting any of them:
• Do one of the above workouts twice a week and either of the others for a third day of spinning workouts in a week.
• Allow at least one day of rest, cross-training or easy cycling between each spinning workout.
• Before starting each workout, pedal easily for 10-15 minutes to warm up. Finish workouts with 10 minutes of easy pedalling to cool down.
There is a large variety of spin bike workouts that you can try to get you started.
Benefits of spinning
• A typical lesson of 40-60 minutes can burn as much as 500 calories.
• It improves cardiovascular health, increases lung capacity and helps you to keep your breathing more controlled.
• Unlike some other forms of group exercise, it can be carried out at entirely your own pace. Nobody will notice or care if you’re going slower than others in the class.
• There is a very friendly atmosphere at spinning classes and people will often encourage you if you find the going tough. There is a sense of unity and camaraderie rather than competition.
• The time passes extraordinarily quickly. Spinning instructors are excellent at creating positive mental distractions.
• There is no impact on vulnerable areas of the body such as knees and feet. In fact, spinning can be a perfect method to assist with rehabilitation from serious injury.
• It tones your legs greatly by using muscles such as thighs, hamstrings and calves, all of which become progressively stronger.
• Indeed, it provides a fantastic workout for your abdomen, too, and helps you to obtain an ideal upper body rhythm that will dovetail nicely with your leg rhythm.
• You will lower your body’s workout breaking point and, if you can work through it, you will feel a natural endorphin kick to keep you going.
• If you stick with spinning classes, you will develop a mental fortitude that greatly enhances your self-confidence to meet challenges head-on.
Spinning tips to help you get the most out of your workout
• Arrive 10 minutes early for a class, as you’ll need time to set yourself up comfortably on your bike, and always stay until at least the end of the class (including the cool down). Indeed, many classes won’t let you in if you arrive any more than 5 minutes late.
• Adjust the saddle and handlebars so that they are at the same height as your hips.
• Never bend your knees any more than a 30-degree angle. The more your legs are extended, the more power you get in pedalling and the better it is for your knees.
• Keep a good posture by hinging forward slightly at the hips, putting as little strain as possible on your back, knees and wrists, and only minimally rounding your back and shoulders.
• Stick to your goals and your goals only. Don’t feel as if you have to go faster than the person nearest you. Remember, spinning is meant to be a healthy challenge, not a competition.
• If you are nervous about starting spinning classes, ask a friend to come along with you for moral support. Who knows, they might end up loving it!
• Invest in proper training gear. Even if it seems expensive, you can purchase good gear without breaking the bank and it’ll make the classes feel far more comfortable.
• Follow the instructor’s advice. If you try to take shortcuts, you’ll only be fooling yourself and physically you’ll gain nothing from the workouts.
• Learn the terminology if you’re unfamiliar with words such as cadence and RPM. These will be used constantly throughout classes.
• If you’re new to the class, try to take a bike near the front so that you can get a good view of how the instructor is moving and clearly hear what they’re saying.
• Always bring water with you. You’ll really need it during and after the workout.
• Eat a good pre-workout snack 90 minutes before the lesson. It will provide an energy boost while being digested in time for the workout.
• If you don’t like the music being played by the instructor, feel free to bring your own playlist of workout tunes. The right music can really help you to get into a good workout rhythm.
Ideal spinning music to accompany your workout
• Rihanna - Diamonds
• Pitbull & TJR - Don't Stop the Party
• PSY - Gangnam Style
• Bruno Mars - Locked out of Heaven
• Will.I.Am & Britney Spears - Scream & Shout
• House of Pain - Jump Around
• The Script & Will.I.Am - Hall of Fame
• Flo Rida & David Guetta – Club Can’t Handle Me
• David Guetta & Zara Larsson – This One’s For You
• Britney Spears – Til The World Ends
• Pitbull & Ne-Yo – Give Me Everything
• Pitbull & Usher – DJ Got Us Falling In Love
• Lady Gaga – Just Dance
• Darude – Sandstorm
• Coldplay – Viva La Vida
• Black Eyed Peas – Let’s Get It Started
• Guns ‘n’ Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
• AC/DC – Thunderstruck
• Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero