General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Spin classes to help with cycling training? Rss Feed  
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2019-01-09 9:58 AM


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Subject: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
Hi folks!

When it comes to cycling, obviously getting out on the road is best.

However, when cycling outdoors isn't ideal or even possible (hello, winter in Canada), do you think spin classes are an adequate alternative to riding outside? I believe spin classes can helpful, e.g., to build endurance and leg strength, yet I've had at least one person say "don't train on a spin bike." Wouldn't "don't rely on training on a spin bike" be more a accurate statement?

Thoughts? Thanks as always!


2019-01-09 11:18 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Atlanta, Georgia
Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?

I agree. I take spin classes in the off-season and every now and then for variety's sake. It's great cardio for me, but I don't do any of the class-specific "tricks" like handlebar pushups or up/down jumps every 2 seconds. I try to mimic actual riding the best I can. Plus, one of my co-workers teaches at our work gym, and she makes it super fun. It's a nice change of pace, but when I start buckling down in a training plan I want to train on my own bike and smart trainer.

2019-01-09 11:29 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
Yes, I think so. There are a couple of issues with classes--First, the workouts may not be suited to your needs as a triathlete. The few classes I've gone to had a lot of high resistance intervals and standing--that is typically not a major part of triathlon bike training (aside from climbing steep hills outdoors, of course, and some short intervals to build strength). The classes also tend to be pretty short, with workouts no longer than 40-60 minutes. (I'm thinking of standard gym classes; some tri and cycling clubs have longer sessions for members.) Plus, of course, the bike and your position are different. If you can afford it, a trainer that you ride your own bike on at home is probably a better investment for the mainstay of your bike training. There are plenty of programs you can use depending on your setup, from free training programs on this site all the way up to "smart trainers" with simulated rides and competitions on platforms like Swift and Sufferfest. Spin classes are probably better as the "spice" for your bike training than the main course. But definitely better than no biking at all. Some people find them fun and motivating and a good high-intensity session.

An alternative (if you already have the gym membership) is to ride the gym cycles and do your own workouts. The bike and position will be different that what you race with, but this allows you to do workouts suited to your needs. In my first years of tri, I didn't have a home trainer and no easy way to get one (living overseas and the bike shops didn't have them; expensive to ship one in). I did probably 90% of my tri training on a gym stationary. I used power-based online programs and the bike's watt meter while watching videos and listening to music on my I-pad. It wasn't an ideal setup, but I was able to go from a BOP cyclist to MOP, which with my relatively strong run and swim was enough to get me onto age group podiums in some races (from about 1:35 to 1:20 Olympic distance tri split).


2019-01-09 2:01 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
I agree with the latter.

Don't rely solely on spin bike classes.

Most are intended to jack the HR up to burn calories. That's great for high intensity sessions, but if that's all you do, you're body won't adjust to operating on the lower fat burning end. That's key for endurance training to work the low end as well.

I stick with around 65% low end and 35% high end.
2019-01-09 7:25 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be


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Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
Originally posted by triathlete_to_be

Hi folks!

When it comes to cycling, obviously getting out on the road is best.

However, when cycling outdoors isn't ideal or even possible (hello, winter in Canada), do you think spin classes are an adequate alternative to riding outside? I believe spin classes can helpful, e.g., to build endurance and leg strength, yet I've had at least one person say "don't train on a spin bike." Wouldn't "don't rely on training on a spin bike" be more a accurate statement?

Thoughts? Thanks as always!



What I like about them is that they provide a great bang for your buck meaning that it's intense and will give you a great workout over a small window of time. It will make you better. If you only have a few hours a week to dedicate to the bike. . you can do a lot worse than filling it with spin classes. I think where the value goes down is when you're putting in more volume and need more structure in your plan.
2019-01-10 9:21 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
I am going to jump in with a bit different opinion. It depends....
The spin class I used to take was taught by the guy with triathlon and cycling competition experience. So the training was not just sparkly-colorful, but targeting some specific goals. Therefore, it depends on the instructor.

In my area there are no hills, so it's hard for me to practice those. Yes, I can jump in on a trainer, or do workout on the spinning bikes, but I am not as motivated as some of guys here, so I will only push myself to the edge of comfort. With my spin class, I was barely walking after the 20 minutes, I was sweating, and I could get a sense how it could feel after hardcore climb.

The other thing for me is timing. I work 40+ hours and have two kids. When I get home and have to do dinner and stuff with the kids, and some other hobbies and such, the last thing on my agenda is a trainer in the evening. SO I went for spin class across a street during lunch time. So convenient.

Nothing replaces actual rides, but good spin class will definitely help, especially when you need someone for more push.


2019-01-10 1:53 PM
in reply to: lisac957

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Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
Originally posted by lisac957

I agree. I take spin classes in the off-season and every now and then for variety's sake. It's great cardio for me, but I don't do any of the class-specific "tricks" like handlebar pushups or up/down jumps every 2 seconds. I try to mimic actual riding the best I can. Plus, one of my co-workers teaches at our work gym, and she makes it super fun. It's a nice change of pace, but when I start buckling down in a training plan I want to train on my own bike and smart trainer.




Totally agree here. I do it in the winter as a change of pace and try my best to mimic outdoor riding. The instructor is key....my gym has instructors who are "Peloton"-like spin trainers....high energy, loud, non-stop talkers catering to a certain group of people. There are 1 or 2 instructors who treat classes like outdoor rides with hills, intervals, etc.

I will probably take you a few classes to find the style you like.
2019-01-10 8:32 PM
in reply to: hessma

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
The "high-energy, loud, non-stop talker" instructors and the LOUD music they used was exactly what drove me away from spin classes, more than the workout itself! Training is my "quiet time" and I like my world music playlist, scenic videos of bike routes in Europe, and chasing watts on my power meter. But I realize that lively class format is fun and motivating to many people. Nothing wrong with it if it helps you get in a good, intense workout. Just really shouldn't be the mainstay of training (unless there are more cycling or tri-oriented classes as well). But even if it is at some times of the year, that is a big step ahead of not riding at all.
2019-01-11 8:51 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Master
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Overland Park, KS
Subject: RE: Spin classes to help with cycling training?
Every winter I do spin classes in addition to riding my indoor trainer. What you want to do is adjust the spin bike such that it's close to your dimensional setup on your actual bike. Some spin instructions do a lot of up/down/hover stuff which is fine if you want to do that. What I sometimes do is stay seated and do interval work while the rest are doing up/downs etc.

I try and sit in the back where I am less noticeable in terms of not doing the same things as the main group.

My gym has an indoor track so I'll often do a bike/run brick since it's cold outside etc.

Spin classes are fine, that's what I did for a couple years before I got an indoor trainer.

Some people tend to over-think and over-complicate things.
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