Let’s face it, the tried and true way of running to add cardio to your workout is not the most fun or even the most effective way to get in shape. Running can put unnecessary strain on your joints and isn’t super efficient at burning calories compared to other exercises. A great alternative to get your cardio in, while adding an extra bit of muscle-building and sculpting, is spin.
Spin bikes, also known as indoor cycles, are a kind of stationary exercise bike. What makes them different from the exercise bikes you’re used to seeing at a gym? Spin bikes are closer to the design of a road bike. If you’re not a bicycle enthusiast, road bicycles are the type of bike you see professional cyclists use in competitions like the Tour de France. Similar to road bikes, a spin bike’s position leans the rider forward and allows you to stand up when pedaling at a higher intensity. Also, they have a heavier flywheel mechanism than a standard exercise bike, which provides a smoother ride and requires a greater effort from the cyclist to get moving. These differences make for a harder bike workout that can prove to show greater results.
Melting Fat and Spinning Weight Loss
In addition to being an excellent source of cardio that can give your heart and lungs a health boost, spin can be an excellent avenue to weight loss and burning fat. Qualifying as a low-impact exercise, indoor cycling is a great workout that won’t put as much stress on your joints as other high-intensity workouts do.
A 30-60 minute indoor cycling session, or spin class, on average can burn around 400-600 calories. The number of calories burned can increase with jacking up the intensity of your ride. If you do three to four of these sessions weekly, you burn up to 2,400 calories. Combined with good nutrition, your intention of doing spin class for weight loss should come to fruition.
Shedding pounds and melting fat isn’t the only benefit of spin; Spinning does a great job at strengthening and toning your lower body muscles, such as your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Going to a Spinning Studio vs Buying a Spin Bike for Home
There’s no right way to do spin, but there are options that fit different people’s needs. You can either sign up for spin classes at a spinning studio or invest in a spin bike for a home spin studio and take online spin classes. How do you know which spin choice is right for you? It’s all dependent on knowing what works best for you and your lifestyle.
If you’re the type of person who needs the routine of going to a scheduled class to stay committed to a workout and who feeds off the positive energy of others for motivation, then attending a spin studio may be the way to go. You also may simply not have the space in your home, or you may enjoy getting out of the house and being a part of a fitness community.
But, if finding the time in a busy schedule to travel to a cycle studio is impossible and staying motivated on your own isn’t a problem for you, investing in a spin bike for your home is a great option. You don’t have to sacrifice convenience for instruction either. There are plenty of available online spin classes if you want direction, variety, and structure in your workouts.
How to Choose a Cycle Studio That is a Good Fit for You
With the rise in popularity of spinning as an effective workout, a quick Google search for ‘cycle studios near me’ will likely provide you with more than just one result in your area. Not all cycle studios are the same, so how do you decide on one? Below we break down some of the top cycle studios around the country to help you pick.
National Spin Studios to Check Out:
- CYCLEBAR – With six different types of classes to choose from, CYCLEBAR is the right fit for every type of rider. CYCLEBAR boasts instructors that educate, coach, motivate, and DJ all in one, a playlist database curated to elevate your ride each session, and stats are tracked and sent to you after every ride. You likely won’t have trouble finding CYCLEBAR locations nearby as there are over 200 studios nationwide.
- SoulCycle – SoulCycle’s sole focus isn’t only making your body stronger but also your mind. SoulCycle believes opening your mind to bigger, broader goals makes you even stronger than you thought possible. With SoulCycle you will ride to the beat of pumping music, and upper-body exercises are incorporated into workouts. SoulCycle classes don’t require a monthly membership or commitment; you can buy as many or as few classes as you want.
- Jibe – Not as far-reaching as CYCLEBAR and SoulCycle studios yet, but with just as much spirit and pumping music, Jibe is a contender for a cycling studio if you live near one of their three locations: Charleston, SC, Portland, MC, and Yarmouth, ME. Jibe is inclusive and you feel like a part of their community of riders instantaneously. With high-end bathrooms and multiple showers, Jibe is equal parts hustle and luxury.
Pros & Cons of Taking a Spin Class Online at Home
Having a home spin studio doesn’t have to mean you’re totally on your own. Though you won’t be feeding off the energy of people physically being around you, an online spin class can provide the motivation and structure you might need to keep you going on routine. Many higher-end spin bikes, such as Peloton and NordicTrack, come with screens that provide a digital portal to online spin classes for a reasonable monthly subscription.
The major advantage of taking a spin classes online is the convenience. No more rushing to classes to try to get a good spot or missing a class because you had to stay longer at work that day. You can take classes online whenever your schedule allows. With a monthly subscription, online spin classes break up the monotony of doing your own thing.
One of the downsides of an at-home spin bike is that the upfront investment can be pricy. Cycles with screens can cost upwards of $600 with the higher-end models sitting around $1,500 to $2,000. In addition to the initial investment, accessing the spin classes these bikes provide will cost around the price of a monthly gym membership, $30-40/month. Another con to spinning at home is the increased chance of injuries without instructors watching over your form and guiding you through the proper warm-up.
What You Should Know in Order to Maximize Each Cycling Class
So you’ve decided which option for is right for you, whether it’s going to a cycle studio or buying a spin bike for your home, and you start taking classes but you aren’t seeing the results you want. There could be certain techniques you’re not implementing that can help you reach your spinning potential. Here are the things you should be aware of and can do to make sure you are maximizing your cycle class workouts:
Cadence is one of the most important parts of cycling. Cadence is the number of revolutions your pedals make per minute and how much speed is behind your riding. The higher the cadence, the faster the pedaling. Professional cyclists pedal fast at typically 100 rpm (revolutions per minute) while a recreational rider or amateur will likely be around 60-80 rpm.
Why is cadence important? The higher your cadence, the harder your legs are working to move your cycle’s pedals, increasing your heart rate and blood flow. Cadence is the base you need in spin to build cardiovascular health and help you sustain a higher intensity for longer sessions. Unlike resistance cycling, cadence cycling has a lower risk of injury since there is little resistance and strain to pedal faster.
How do you know what your cycling cadence is? You can measure your cadence by counting how many times your legs go up and down in a minute, but as simple as that sounds, there’s an easier and less distracting method of simply buying a cadence sensor. Reasonably affordable ones, like Wahoo Cadence Sensors, can be bought on Amazon for $40 and attached to your cycle with little effort. Also, most spin bikes already come with cadence monitors built in to make it easy.
Ultimately, by focusing on cadence cycling you will maximize calories burned and weight shed, as well as improve your cardio health.
Resistance cycling is another way to maximize how much you get out of your spin workout. If you’re looking to melt fat and tone your body, resistance cycling will do more to build muscle. Resistance levels decide how much effort it takes to push the pedals.
It’s important to gradually work up to higher levels of resistance on your bike in order to build the strength and balance necessary to have a good cadence at a higher resistance setting. This will help decrease your risk of injury. High resistance cycling in general should be done in shorter spurts, and with caution since it can put pressure on your hips and knees, leading to injuries.
Heart Rate Zones Cycling
Knowing your cycling heart rate zones is a great way to get what you’re aiming for out of spin sessions. Heart rate zones for cycling are broken down into five categories:
- Zone 1: Recovery – 50-60% of your max HR
- Zone 2: Endurance Training – 60-70% of your max HR
- Zone 3: Aerobic Capacity or Tempo – 70-80% of your max HR
- Zone 4: Anaerobic Threshold or Lactate Threshold – 80-90% of your max HR
- Zone 5: VO2 – 90-100% of your max HR
To know which zone your heart rate is in, you will need to know your resting heart rate and your max heart rate. From there, you can determine which cycling heart rate zone you are in to get the most out of your workout.
Different Types of Spin Class
It’s not ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to spin classes. You should consider what you want out of your cycling workouts in order to properly choose. Below we break down a variety of class types:
High-Intensity Interval Training, or better known as HIIT, consists of repeated short sets of maximum effort. These sets are broken up by recovery periods. HIIT cycling workouts can be done in less than an hour. In only a 20-30 minute HIIT bike workout, you can burn as much, or more, calories as in longer exercise routines, as well as boost your metabolism for hours afterward. If you’re struggling to find the time in your schedule to fit in a workout, HIIT spinning is the way to go. In a short period of time, HIIT workouts torch calories, help you gain muscle and increase heart health and VO2 max. HIIT cycling should be limited to 2-3 times a week, more than that disallows your body recovery time, which can lead to burnout and overtraining injuries.
A Tabata cycle workout is a type of HIIT training that is only four minutes long. Don’t be deceived by Tabata’s length. These short bursts are meant to be executed with the highest intensity, to the point where you can’t stay on your bike for another minute after a session. Tabata requires a high fitness level, so be sure you aren’t making the jump from light physical activities to Tabata spin workouts.
With any type of HIIT bike workout, remember not to overdo it by keeping Tabata spinning to a maximum of 3 times per week. Your body needs adequate time between high-intensity workouts to properly recover.
Endurance cycling is for those looking to go the distance and be able to cycle for hours at a time. Building the stamina for endurance cycling requires endurance training sessions of 60-90 minutes in length 2-3 times per week, and one long ride a week consisting of 2-5 hours. These shorter endurance fitness workouts are meant to allow you to consistently train without needing extended recovery time. If done correctly, endurance rides will help you improve longevity and stamina.
Power zone cycling is focused on riders achieving certain output levels throughout a class or session to improve endurance, strength, and performance. Cycling power zones are tracked and calculated by a power meter, a device that measures your power output. Cycling power is the amount of energy you use to move your bike.
Instead of using cadence and resistance to guide your rides, power zone training allows you to focus on the energy output. Attempting to pedal at 100 cadence and 50 resistance varies in difficulty from person to person, so by having the instructor tell you to “go to power zone 3 for 2 minutes,” everybody is able to ride at the same level.
There are seven cycling power zones, each with a different degree of intensity. These power zones are specific to each rider and their abilities. Power zone cycling measures progress and monitors your fitness level. By tracking them, you will be able to know what areas of cycling need improvement.
Aqua cycling puts spin bikes in three to four feet of water. Riders pedal against the resistance of the water, and the water’s buoyancy helps provide support to muscles and joints. Though the water creates resistance, it does not put too much strain on your body. Aqua cycling is a great option for people with limited mobility or those recovering from injuries.
What is a Bike Trainer?
If you are already a bike enthusiast and own a traditional road bike, you can buy an indoor bike trainer. A bike trainer is a stationary piece of equipment that holds your bicycle. Bike trainers are great during colder weather since you don’t have to forgo your workouts when you can’t go outside. As opposed to a stationary spin bike, using a bike trainer allows you to get practive on the real thing.
Spin classes are a great option for improving cardiovascular health because they provide an intense and challenging cardio workout. It’s an effective way to improve heart health and increase endurance. Additionally, the music and energetic atmosphere of spin classes can motivate participants to push themselves harder, resulting in a more effective cardio workout. Overall, spin is an excellent way to get your heart rate up while having fun working out. We’d recommend it to beginners, as well as, elite athletes that are looking for their next great cardio workout.
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