Spinning, also known as indoor cycling, is an aerobic exercise with the added benefit that it works the muscles of the legs and lower back. Spinning is an exercise most usually performed as part of a 45 minute to an hour class where an instructor sets the pace of the exercise to music.
The most notable feature of spinning is the unique stationary bike used by participants. This bike often has a weighted flywheel that allows the participants to modify the difficulty of pedaling by adjusting a knob or other such device on the bike.
Spinning bikes also tend to have clipless pedals that allow cleeted cycling shoes to attach to the pedals. Although not as common, some spinning bikes do have toe clips.
Along with the weighted flywheel and specialized pedals, spinning bikes are remarkable for being highly customizable so that users can change the height and position of the seat as well as the height of the handlebars. All of these settings need to be tailored to the individual user and to do so a novice should have the class’s instructor help him or her set the bike up at the beginning of class.
This is a highly important step because appropriately setting-up the bike is necessary to avoiding lower back and knee injuries.
Along with understanding the peculiarities of the spinning bike, it is also important that anyone who decides to attend a spinning class bring plenty of water with them. More than many other exercise routines, spinning is capable of quickly dehydrating you because of the sheer amount of sweat generated in the course of a single class. If you are someone who normally goes through an entire bottle of water during a normal period of exercise, you should consider bringing multiple bottles of water to a spinning session.
Something else to understand before taking your first spinning class is that each class is comprised of three different biking positions (forward, middle and rear).
Also known as hand position 3, the forward position occurs when the rider rises off of the seat and places his or her hands on the topmost portion of the handlebars. This position is used during climbs and it is the only time that your hands should be on the topmost portion of the handlebars lest you strain your back.
The middle position (or hand position 2) requires that the rider places his or her hands on the curved part of the handlebar directly in front of their body and can be used either sitting or standing up off the seat. This is the position used most during any given class.
Finally, the rear position – also known as hand position 1 – requires that the rider place his or her hands on the center of the handlebar while seated. This position is only used during a warm-up or cool down period.
These various positions take riders through a workout consisting of climbs, sprints and intervals that together work the quadriceps, hips and hamstrings as well as back muscles. Indeed, because of the weighted flywheel and the intensity of the class, spinning is able to tone muscles and burn calories in a way that outdoor cycling simply can’t. In fact, depending on your weight and the intensity of your workout, a 45 minute spinning session can be expected to burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories.
As long as you are mindful of the potential for injuries resulting from improperly setting up your bike and you hydrate frequently, spinning can be a highly rewarding exercise that tones your muscles and burns calories at a remarkable rate.