If you’ve ever wondered if a spin class was for you, then you’re in exactly the right place. This article covers everything you need to know before trying spinning. We’ll start with what spinning is, then chat about its benefits and drawbacks as well as looking at how to set your bike up perfectly before class. If all that wasn’t enough, we’ll even be going over exactly what you need to bring to class, plus how to optimize your pedaling.
What is spinning?
First things first, let’s get super-clear about what spinning actually is. Put simply, spinning is a form of high-intensity interval training based around stationary indoor cycling.
Spinning is normally done in a class, led by an instructor. There is also usually music and visual effects to make for an exciting training session.
What are the benefits?
- Spin classes help you to burn an absolute ton of calories, so if you’re looking to lose weight, they’re a great addition to your training.
- Another big benefit of spinning is the motivating group environment. Rather than having to train on your own, you’ve got a whole team of people alongside you.
- Spinning is a great way to improve your heart and lung health. After a few weeks of spin, you’ll be a lot fitter and have loads more energy.
- Spinning classes are also exciting, so you can say goodbye to those boring, sleepy cardio sessions.
- Spin is a low-impact activity, so it won’t put any extra strain or stress on your joints.
- It’s guaranteed to build endurance in your leg muscles.
- Last but not least, because spin is so popular you’ll find classes all over the world. If you ever have to move home or change location you should still be able to keep up your training.
What are the drawbacks?
- Since spinning is all about cardio and endurance, you won’t get much in the way of strength training or muscle-building exercise, so if those are your goals, spin might not be for you.
- Spin is totally focused on your lower body, so you won’t get any real upper body training in. If you’re looking to achieve a balanced physique, that might be something to consider.
- Lastly, as with all classes, the instructors have different abilities and personalities, so you might need to do a little bit of searching to find the right class for you.
How to set up your spin bike
Now that we’ve got the pros and cons out of the way, let’s get down to the details of how to set up your bike properly.
A good starting point is to set your saddle height to line up with your hip bone. You can then get on the bike and test it. You’re looking for your legs to be almost (but not quite) straight when the pedal is in the bottom position. If you want to get all technical, your leg should be about 25 to 35 degrees out from straight.
If you set your seat too high, your legs will be completely straight and you won’t be able to pedal the bottom half of the rotation.
If you set your seat too low, your legs will be excessively bent, and your knees will come up way too high during the top half of the rotation. You’ll look like you’re riding a clown bike!
Make sure you pedal properly
Every bike works by using gears. These gears work through the power of rotation. The rotation that controls all of this is your pedaling, so if you want to cycle better, you’ll need to master pedaling.
To do this you need to follow my golden rule: Pedalling is not just about pushing!
If you only focus on pushing with each leg, you’re basically forgetting half of the rotation cycle. Instead, once you’ve completed your downstroke (push), it’s time to point your toe down and imagine pulling your knee up towards your handlebars.
The idea is that as one leg is pushing, the other is actively pulling. This is a much more effective way to pedal if you want to improve your speed and performance.
Three things to bring to class
Trust me, there are three things that you’re definitely going to need for every spin class you attend.
1. A sweat towel
This is very important. You’ll be pushing yourself hard for at least thirty minutes, so expect to get all kinds of sweaty! Don’t get me wrong, nobody expects you to look like an angel, but spending half an hour looking like you’ve just got out of the pool is excessive.
2. Lots of water
All this hard work and sweating will leave you dehydrated pretty fast if you don’t come prepared. Bring a good-size bottle of water and put it in the attachment on your spin bike. Top tip: It’s much easier to wait for the quieter moments of class to take a sip!
3. A positive attitude
You’re there to have fun and get fit at the same time, so bring along a positive attitude. Remember that you’re in a group training environment, so your energy and attitude can have a huge impact on everyone else’s session. Get pumped, enjoy yourself, and your teammates will appreciate you for it.
Time to put your pedal to the metal!
Hopefully my short guide has given you a few handy pieces of advice to get started with spinning. If you’ve read all the way through, you’ll know why spin is great for you, how to set up your bike, how to pedal properly, and the three things you must remember to bring to class.
Have you done your first class yet?