Taking an indoor spin class is one of the best ways to stay in shape during winter and all year long. Taking a class can also keep you motivated and challenged, but it’s important to choose the right class for you.
Below, you’ll learn more about how to choose the right spin class for your needs and fitness goals.
A Good Class Lets You Work at Your Own Level
Identifying the differences between a good and a bad spin class isn’t easy unless you know exactly what to evaluate. First, make sure your instructor has a system that lets you work at your ability level. For example, if your gym has indoor spin bikes with preset resistance levels and the instructor tells everyone to use the same level at different points in the workout, you may be working above or below the level that would be most useful to you.
The best instructors can communicate what each different intensity level should feel like so you can understand how hard you are working versus how hard you should be working. An even better instructor will use an objective measure like heart rate or power based zones. Some gyms will also have bikes with power meters that convey your effort in watts. By taking a brief test, you’ll discover the right power output for your fitness level for different efforts including endurance, threshold, sprints, and more.
A good spin class will use different levels of effort and intensity throughout the class. A class that asks you to cycle at your upper limit for the entire time is a bad idea because it can result in injury and burnout. Ideally, the instructor should explain why you are working at different intensities and how it will impact your fitness level, ability, or health. You’ll want to avoid instructors who make you work excessively hard without providing a reason.
Classes for Competitive Athletes
If you’re a competitive cyclist or triathlete, you want to make sure your spin class fits in with your training goals by letting you work at various efforts and intensities. If you do the same workout during every class, you won’t improve as a rider. Instead, choose a class with a specific program length that cycles or progresses through a range of efforts and intensities during each class.
Pay Attention to Intervals
Another way to evaluate a spinning class is to pay attention to interval length and the recovery time between intervals. While riding at lower intensities, you should have longer intervals and reduced recovery time. On the flipside, a higher intensity should be achieved through shorter intervals and increased recovery time.
Although lots of difficult, short intervals can be good, you should also get enough recovery time to keep your output constant throughout the workout. If you leave class hardly able to walk, you’ve done too much. Remember that an effective workout can be achieved without causing yourself pain. You should definitely be tired by the end, but you should also feel good. Keep in mind that your first class will likely feel very difficult, and it may be important to go again to see if the class is right for you.
A good instructor will understand the mechanics of cycling and avoid making you perform actions that will harm you or fail to benefit you. Pedaling backwards, shifting your weight into your arms, or lifting weights during a class are not helpful.
Make sure your instructor discusses proper form during classes, as well as technique and cadence to keep you from developing bad habits. You should receive advice on how to stand while pedaling, create a more efficient pedal stroke, and how to make sure your bike fits. Drills involving cadence and standing can serve as great warm ups.
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