I usually workout on Thursdays at 6pm, right after I’m finished working my hours on the floor. It’s time efficient, and saves me some gas. This past Thursday, things went a little differently. I headed straight from class to the gym, hoping I could fit my upper body workout in before 2pm. Thanks to some decent programming*, I finished in an hour and fifteen minutes, and had some time to grab food before starting to work. I had to left earlier because I was planning on taking my boss’ spinning class right after my shift. Oh, joy!
During the past 2-3 months I have listened to her tell me how awesome spinning is and how it’s so hard and I won’t be able to do it. My usual response was something along the lines of “If I’m getting more benefits out of my workouts, why am I going to spin?” While I still have a great deal to learn about exercise science, I’m fairly confident in my ability to design programs, and that I’m in good health. Dedicated aerobic work is low on the list of efficient exercise modalities, meaning that there are a number of things that will give you the same benefits with much better results. Supersets, complexes, and circuits are my modalities of choice, and are more beneficial, and more fun than running the treadmill or the elliptical. Honestly, how many people like to be on the elliptical reading People magazine or watching Oprah for an hour? That’s a short list. With the very difficult fun circuits that I’ve been putting together, there is a huge cardiovascular component. I’ve been discussing numerous supersets for conditioning in recent posts, and they’re becoming my favorite things to do and recommend to people. Well, complexes, and 1RM testing. It happens. So despite her many warnings, I was looking forward to this spin class. Far too many people still think that dedicated aerobic work is the only way to achieve any cardiovascular conditioning, so I was stuck listening to an older trainer tell me that I was going to walk out of there hunched over, gasping for air. I suppose that I shouldn’t take him too seriously; he also has asked me what deadlifting is, and things that foam rolling is some weird exercise. (Probably two of the best things you can do for yourself, Seriously.) Anyway; on to the class:
Spinning classes aren’t steady state aerobic work; they’re designed with specific ‘rides’ in mind, so the class is taught with real terrain in mind. I wonder why you wouldn’t just go outside and ride a real bike, but there are some advantages to spinning. You control the resistance on your bike, so you can choose the length of the intervals that you’re using. As an example, we started our ride with some longer intervals with a higher recovery rate. If these included 30 seconds of a ‘climb’, we then sat down and peddled a little slower for 1:30. That’s a 1:3 work/rest ratio. By the end of the class, we were down to 15 seconds of a ‘sprint’, then to 30 seconds of recovery. That’s a 1:2 ratio, but with a much higher intensity. While I’ve only taken one spinning class before, about 6 months ago, I do use HIIT on Tuesdays after I squat, so bike intervals aren’t completely foreign to me. (I use a 1:1.5 or 1:1 ratio, and go all out on the work sets.) Because of this, spinning was relatively easy for me. I think I aggravated my boss when I was laughing during her intervals. I’m sorry, but they were easy, and it WAS rather fun listening to techno versions of 80’s hits. I’ll admit that the only thing difficult about spinning was walking around on Friday morning: those seats are not friendly to the novice rider.
Even though spinning won’t be a regular part of my exercise routine, I’ll certainly recommend it to people who have a) less than stellar program design and b) need additional cardiovascular work. Why? Too few people are performing complexes/circuits/supersets that cause cardiovascular adaptations, and so they need some dedicated work. If that’s the case, try spinning! You’ll get a lot more out of it than you would from steady state work. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that it’s fun. FUN!!! The time flew by quicker than I expected. As far as interval work goes, you’ll improve both your aerobic and anaerobic work capacities, improve your body composition, and it’s far safer than running on a hamster wheel treadmill. In fact, I’m sure I may stop by from time to time, either to sneak in a different workout than normal or to keep those quite who say ‘But I thought you had to do cardio?’ You do, while you do other things. Multitasking is key, people.
Final review: Of all the classes taught at gyms, spinning is one of the best. I’d certainly recommend it to people, as long as they pick up heavy stuff the days before and after.*
*Oh, wait, I programmed it!
**Before the class began, I told my boss I was going to pull a deadlift PR the next day just to let her know that the class was easy: I pulled 335lbs Sumo Stance. That was only my 2nd time pulling Sumo, but it’s a PR nonetheless. See what I’ve done there?!