To Spin or Not to Spin

23 02 2011

Happy Hump Day!

Today I am going to address a somewhat controversial issue: spinning.

I may be fairly new to the triathlon world, but I would guess that discussions and debates over the value of taking a spin class as a means to continue training when the weather turns cold, your bike breaks or you are just in the mood to let a spin instructor yell at you while you ride to the hopefully good beats of the class are nothing new. I personally love spin classes. I have been to tons of spin classes…some better than others, (if any spin instructors are reading this…Enya and Jack Johnson are not pump up jams) but with an instructor who knows what he/she is doing and a really good playlist, I leave the class feeling stronger, more energized and ALWAYS a sweaty mess.

 

But just because I love spin classes and am a complete believer that they allow me to maintain my endurance on the bike even when I can’t ride outside, doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the case. There is no doubt in my mind that spinning is great exercise, but I have been wondering for a while now, what the experts think about the value of a spin class. I figured that one of the best places to start would be on Lance Armstrong’s website…so I checked it out. And this is what I found…

Benefits of Spinning

  • Indoor cycling eliminates traffic, coasting and stops, making it a safe way to develop strength, technique and aerobic capacity.
  • Spin classes are often high-quality workouts, that are fit into a shorter period of time than riding outdoors.
  • When the weather isn’t conducive to riding outside, a spin class is a great way to get your ride in while feeding off of the energy from the others in your class!
  • Spinning allows cyclists to work on specific drills, such as timed sprints.
  • In the off-season, spinning classes are ideal for developing bike-specific muscular strength, improving pedaling skills and raising lactate threshold.

Sounds pretty good huh! Now check out some of the disadvantages..

Disadvantages of Spinning

  • Spinning is great for developing your cardiovascular and muscular systems, but it does nothing to train the skill-related aspects of bike racing, such as passing, maneuvering around sharp turns, etc.
  • While spin classes include high-resistance riding that most instructors call  “hills,” spin class  “hills” bear little resemblance to the technique of riding up a real incline.
  • While they do build strength, spin class exercises like “jumps” (alternating quickly between sitting and standing) and “running” (standing upright with your hands in the middle of the handlebars) don’t resemble anything you do on a real bike.
  • The workout planned by the instructor does not necessarily fit the workout that you have planned in your training plan.

So with this information, I can see why the debate continues. There are clearly pros and cons to taking a spin class. If you do choose to take a spin class, there are a few things to keep in mind…

Tips for Spinners

  • Make sure that your spin bike position mimics your position on your outdoor bike. Adjust handle bars, seat position etc.
  • Don’t forget…the class might be designed in a specific way, but it is still your ride. Do not participate in exercises that you do not feel are conducive to making you a stronger better cyclist. It is OK to sit and ride while the class does something else.
  • Check out the instructor ahead of time. Make sure that he/she has experience and is a certified instructor.
  • Make sure that your spin instructor has good taste in music (ok, maybe not super necessary, but c’mon…pretty important)
  • DRINK WATER! Spin rooms are often very hot and dry. Spinning.com recommends drinking about 40 oz. water total during a 40-minute spin class

So there you have it! A little insight into the oh so common debate over the spin class. What are your thoughts on spinning versus riding outside? Leave me a message below! I know that until the weather hits at least 50, you will find me in the spin room 🙂

Now onto the next topic of the day: Chloe’s Super Duper High Protein Energy Bread (aka: Banana, Apple, Date, Walnut Bread). This loaf is super high in protein as a result of the use of Greek yogurt and super sweet, not because of the added sugar, because the sugars in the fruit!

Chloe’s Super Duper Energy Bread (aka Banana, Apple, Date, Walnut Bread) (Adapted from Andrea, over at Bella Eats)

makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3  ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup fat free plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple (or pear!)
  • 5 medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lightly chopped walnuts
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I would have used whole wheat but was out)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, yogurt, sugar, egg, apple (or pear), and dates.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
  5. Fold on the walnuts.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes before slicing or burn fingers and tongue by eating immediately like me.

This bread is a great pre or post workout snack or just a great breakfast bread. Toast it and smear on a little almond butter and you have yourself a super filling, super delicious, SUPER healthy meal!

I’ve got 2 questions of the day for ya! Leave me a message below and share your thoughts!

1) What are your thoughts on spin classes vs. cycling outside?

2) What is your favorite homemade bread to make?

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15 responses

23 02 2011
Katie

I personally love spinning, but I think that the spin instructor makes or breaks your workout. I only go to the spin class of this one instructor, Ira, not because of his music (’80s rock and Flight of the Valkyries…yea), but because he’s a a certified instructor and more importantly, he’s a biker himself. I see him riding his bike around Arlington, MA all the time, and he’s a very safe, strong rider. Anyone who wears “Bike safety” jersey’s to class is a friend of mine! While I love riding outside with a posse of my closest friends, a good spin class where I almost throw up is just as satisfying.

23 02 2011
321delish

haha. I have never seen a bike safety jersey before but if ever do, I will think of you! Nothing like almost throwing up to give those endorphins a really good boost! SEE YOU FRIDAY!!!!

13 11 2012
Runner

Do you happen to know where Ira is currently teaching? (Just moved back to the area and in search of his classes again ….) Thanks,

13 11 2012
321delish

Did you just move to DC or Tampa? I’m in Tampa so I could suggest a few places here. Just let me know!

23 02 2011
Paul Young-Hyman

I agree spinning is a good builder but no substitute. Bike set up is crucial if you dont want to go out for a real ride and be surprised that your bike position is all messed up so its really best to use your own bike on a trainer and not the spinning bikes at the class. I particularly am fond of Spinnervals, because it started in BMOre, and because Troy Jacobsen is a great coach and has been putting together great sets for years. We asked him where he dreamed them up HE would not tell us. 50 degrees is way too wuss and anytime its over 35 ans sunny is a good day to ride. Great layering and boots and gloves make all the difference. CYa

23 02 2011
321delish

Thanks for the comment Dad! You are by far tougher than I am 🙂 Can’t wait to ride together when the weather gets warmer (maybe I’ll move it to 45 degrees!)

23 02 2011
Samuel Schweizer

That bread looks great but is not very photogenic.

23 02 2011
321delish

Yeah… I’m working on becoming a better photographer…baby steps!

23 02 2011
tea

KEEP SPINNING. My best friend is a spin instructor and is a 1st Athena triathlete. She has won more races than I’ve probably even done. Since she became an instructor, cycling has gone from her 2nd strongest to 1st strongest event. Last year, Triathlete mag posted an article about how spinning helps strengthen your legs for triathlon.

(thanks for stopping by my blog. I try to keep it up to date and write these awfully good entries in my head while training. Then I get home and POOF)

24 02 2011
321delish

There aren’t a ton of young female tri blogs out there so it’s great to connect! I don’t plan on giving up spinning anytime soon 🙂 A) I love it and B) I am too much of a wuss to ride in the cold!

Glad I found your blog! Ill keep following for sure 🙂

24 02 2011
Ann

No one responded to your bread question! I love making banana bread. Simple, uses up bad bananas, easy to personalize. Best ways to make it healthy: use applesauce in place of eggs, use honey in place of sugar (or maple syrup!), and use whole wheat flour. DELISH.

Having never taken a spin class (and being super intimidated by yelling instructors) I have no comments on that subject! (Although Katie believes I should take Ira’s class!)

24 02 2011
321delish

Love your banana bread recipe! I have never tried maple syrup but sounds good! Take a spin class with Katie! You will be hooked 🙂 Thanks for following!

12 02 2015
Michael T. Miller

Spinning is one of the best low impact cardio exercise. Buy your own spin bike and enjoy its benefits from the comfort of your home. Check my site for spin bikes options: http://www.spinbikesexpert.com

6 11 2015
Lynette

I have never take a spin class before but this sounds great on so many level. Thanks for the tips I’m gonna go exercise more from now on.

6 11 2015
Lynette

I have never take a spin class before but this sounds great on so many level. Thanks for the tips I’m gonna go exercise more from now on.

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