Spinning is a relatively new workout that hit the fitness scene in the 1990s. It is an intense workout that can burn a lot of calories. It became popular due to the intensity of the workout and because it is easy to learn. Spinning does not require any dance moves and it is non-weight bearing, so it can be a good cross training activity for those who run. There are some basics you need to know to keep yourself safe and to take part in a great spinning workout.
Spinning is an indoor cycling exercise program that has gained in popularity all over the world. It utilises special bikes that are designed for fitness. The bikes have more adjustments then a traditional exercise bike. The seat height adjusts up and down, as well as moving forward and backwards, so you can adjust how far the seat is away from the handlebars. The handlebars can be raised or lowered for optimal positioning. Spin bikes also have special pedals. These pedals either have straps that you can place your feet in, or you can purchase spinning shoes that clasp right into the pedal. The bikes also come with a brake that can be applied if your foot slips out or you need to stop quickly. All of these adjustments and features are especially designed to give you the optimal spin workout while keeping your joints safe.
Most spinning classes include a straight 45- to 60-minute ride. Spinning classes are a form of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise designed to burn calories and help you lose weight. In general, they do not include any strength training or abdominal exercises. However, classes can vary by location and instructor. As you ride, you change positions and increase and decrease tension on the bike to simulate outdoor cycling. A typical spinning class can burn anywhere from 300 to over 500 calories per hour. The amount of calories burnt depends on the intensity you spin, your weight and gender.
Form and Safety
Arrive to class early. Before you start a spinning class, there are some safety rules to follow. If you are taking a class at a gym for the first time, you need to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the class start time, so the instructor can show you how to set up the bike properly. Even with this, it may take one or two classes to get comfortable on the bike and to get just the right settings.
Set the bike up correctly. The seat height should be set so that when your foot is at the bottom position, there is a slight bend in the knee. Pedalling with straight legs hyperextends the knee joint and will lead to injury. The same is true if the seat is too low, which creates excessive bending of the knee and will lead to knee and hip pain. The seat should be far enough away from the handlebars, so that your knee does not extend past your toes as you pedal. The handlebars should be high enough that you do not need to round your back when sitting or standing. Use proper form. While riding, avoid excessive upper body movements. Doing push-up type movements, squats or swaying side to side is discouraged as this can cause improper form and excessive stress on the back and joints. Keep your back straight at all times. The handlebars are there to help you maintain balance but you should avoid leaning on the handlebars. In spinning classes, it is common to see students hunching their back or having their shoulders raised in order to push harder. This just creates neck and shoulder pain. Relax your shoulders, keep your chest open and keep the tension set at a level that allows you to ride with good posture.
A spinning class may be held in a basic room, with just music and the instructor's verbal guidance. This is a good starting point if you are new to spinning, so you can concentrate on proper form. All spin classes utilise interval training. This means you will sit and stand during the ride. You will alternate between light tension with faster pedalling, which simulates riding on a flat ground, with slower pedalling and higher tension, which simulates riding uphill. Interval training burns fat. Some clubs have dedicated spinning rooms where you wear headphones with piped-in music, or they may have screens that show varying terrains that you pretend to be riding on. Other instructors encourage riders to close their eyes and visually guide them through a workout. Experiment with different classes to find the right fit.
If you decide to try spinning, take it slow at first. It is a much more intense workout than people realise. The common mistake made by many new spinners is to set the tension too high and go too hard the first class. It can take a few weeks of classes to build yourself up to a full spin class. Talk to your doctor before joining a class to make sure it is right for you. Speak with your instructor before class about any health concerns you have. Your instructor can help you make adjustments, so you can ride safely and build up sensibly. As good of a workout as spinning is, it does use a repetitive motion, which if done too much can strain the hips, knees and back. Make sure you cross train and do other aerobic type activities. You also need to do a complete strength training program to get the most effective workout. This is especially true if you have back, hip or knee pain. Strengthening the muscles that surround these joints will help to take pressure off the joint and allow you to spin without pain or injury.
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