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How useful is spinning as training?

barrybridgesbarrybridges Posts: 420
I'm sure this has been asked before but when I search I can't seem to find any relevant results, so...

I'm looking to get back into cycling this year but finding the time to train is very difficult, so I'm going to 4 spinning sessions a week (on average) during the working day.

Is spinning useful as a training aid, or not really?

It seems quite good - lots of max effort reps - I certainly feel like I've been given a thorough L3/L4 workout for 45 minutes.

Physically it's a good replica - I use my SPDs so the set-up and feel is the same.

Is it useful and can it ever replace time on the bike (which I don't have)?

Posts

  • patchypatchy Posts: 779
    there was a reasonable piece on this in CW the other week (or was it the Health and Fitness offshoot... i forget). General consensus is yes, if you do it in a certain way. not that i can remember any of the details... :)
    point your handlebars towards the heavens and sweat like you're in hell
  • andy81andy81 Posts: 118
    Spinning tends to split opinions, and a lot depends on the instructor. That said, a decent instructor who focuses on intensity and intervals will make spinning worthwhile.

    It's worth noting that depending on your riding goals, it's worth supplementing the spinning with other training to build endurance etc, as you won't get this from spinning.

    A good indicator of the value of the sessions is how you feel afterwards - if you feel you've had to put a lot in, it's probably been a good session. Not very scientific, but there you go!
  • I personally prefer the windtrainer and my HR monitor. I find the gym too hot and noisy. I follow the programme on my monitor which is usually 40 mins 70-80% max, 10 of 80+ and 10 of <60%. I do that a couple of times a week and it keeps me going.
    Lapierre Zesty 514 - 2010
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,492
    Isn't this like asking if push ups, sit ups, or running is good exercise. It's exercise, how bad could it be. Sorry if I sound like a *sshole but c'mon, it's exercise, it's good stuff. :wink::wink:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    dennisn wrote:
    Isn't this like asking if push ups, sit ups, or running is good exercise. It's exercise, how bad could it be. Sorry if I sound like a *sshole but c'mon, it's exercise, it's good stuff. :wink::wink:

    I'm with you, anything is good.
  • andy162andy162 Posts: 656
    I rate it. I do 2 classes back to back on winter Wednesdays. Our instructor is a cyclist & gears the sessions as such. A good mixture of high resistance " climbing " & sprinting.

    The sessions can be as hard as you want tho'. You either turn the resistance up & bury yourself a bit, or don't. I do & know about it when I'm done.

    If yr not sweating out of your teeth yr not working hard enough!
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    Surely its like a session on the turbo trainer, but with added motivation and less bordom.

    As mentioned though, its lacking in a longer, endurance ride.

    I've been to quite a few different classes with different instructors and they do vary a lot from superb to poor. But even with the poor ones you're incharge of your workout and can make sure you get benefit by working hard!

    Finding an RPM class should give some guarantee of quality.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,365
    Surely its like a session on the turbo trainer, but with added motivation and less bordom.
    Or with added distraction, no ventilation, a weird and imprecise method of altering the resistance, no feedback on effort, no freewheel...

    I tried spinning for the first time a few weeks ago because I couldn't get outside due to the weather and I didn't have my tacx fortius with me. It was a pretty unpleasant experience to be honest, I didn't have a HR monitor, power output, speed or any other method of gaging how much effort I was putting in, so I completely knackered myself in the first 5 minutes. I had already been sweating buckets just warming up and must have been seriously dehydrated by the end - normally with the indoor trainer I have the window open and a huge fan going. The whole thing felt really claustrophobic with everyone packed together and no air moving and it was weird not being able to anticipate when the instructor was going to step up or lower the pace. I kept forgetting I had no freewheel and practically made the machine jump a foot off the ground on a few occasions.. :) I couldn't get the hang of using the resistance knob, I was twirling it back and forward and never managing to find the right resistance... The handlebars were weird, the positions felt all wrong and very different from a road bike. And then there was the fact that half of the other people there were large and not particularly fit looking but still managing to breeze through the whole session without even breaking a sweat...

    Maybe it gets better with experience.. :wink:
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    Sounds like you've been somewhere a bit ropey neeb.

    All the ones I've been to have had big floor fans that they wheel out, some better than others, some air con'd others not and some with open windows.

    The bikes vary a lot as well.

    You can always take your own HRM.

    Your point about the large unfit looking people kind of sums up whats good about spinning, in that a whole variety of people can go, and everyone gets a good workout inline with their needs.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,365
    I think the two things I had most problems with were the temperature/ventilation and the lack of precise control through gears. On the fortius I'm used to always being able to select the perfect gear and I just couldn't get on with turning a knob to vary resistance, especially as the instructor had us getting out of the saddle a lot and "climbing". Also, I should have brought a HRM! Probably it would have been easier if I wasn't already so used to the fortius, so as soon as I step over a stationary indoor bike I'm expecting it to be the same..
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,492
    neeb wrote:
    I think the two things I had most problems with were the temperature/ventilation and the lack of precise control through gears. On the fortius I'm used to always being able to select the perfect gear and I just couldn't get on with turning a knob to vary resistance, especially as the instructor had us getting out of the saddle a lot and "climbing". Also, I should have brought a HRM! Probably it would have been easier if I wasn't already so used to the fortius, so as soon as I step over a stationary indoor bike I'm expecting it to be the same..

    It's only spinning, not rocket science. Just something to keep your legs moving during times when you can't be riding outside. You're making more of it than it is. Hop on the trainer, work fairly hard some days, real hard on a few others, ride outside when you can, and pray for spring. Most of all don't believe the all the hype and ad speak about trainers being the answer that you seek. If you want to be a RACER, get your butt on
    a bike, get OUT there(outside), race cross, race MTB, race road, whatever, but forget about cadence, HR, power output and all that kind of thing while you're on a TRAINER.
    Find more time to get OUT THERE RACING. Trainers are way to easy anyway and just an excuse to stay inside. Toughen up.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,365
    It's only spinning, not rocket science. Just something to keep your legs moving during times when you can't be riding outside. You're making more of it than it is. Hop on the trainer, work fairly hard some days, real hard on a few others, ride outside when you can, and pray for spring. Most of all don't believe the all the hype and ad speak about trainers being the answer that you seek. If you want to be a RACER, get your butt on
    a bike, get OUT there(outside), race cross, race MTB, race road, whatever, but forget about cadence, HR, power output and all that kind of thing while you're on a TRAINER.
    Find more time to get OUT THERE RACING. Trainers are way to easy anyway and just an excuse to stay inside. Toughen up.
    Sheesh, I must have hit a nerve there, where did that come from? :shock:

    As it happens I'm living in Helsinki, so outside is a bit impractical at the moment (unless you're into MTB or cross at -10C, which I'm not). So the trainer is pretty important during the winter and because I use it a lot it really helps to have things like video, power monitoring etc for motivation and goal-setting. Just be glad you live somewhere (I assume) where the snow will melt before mid April...
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    do you have any goals for the year? If not then why bother with worrying about your training, just do what you enjoy.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,365
    do you have any goals for the year? If not then why bother with worrying about your training, just do what you enjoy.

    Yeah, a few goals - and I enjoy the training! Actually, I'm not very scientific about it at all, don't know how I gave that impression. But because the fortius does power and HR I'm used to that and use them to measure improvement and for motivation.
  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,258
    I find spinning too boring, I can only do it when in a group of people spinning, on my own I just go normal speed with my HR up in the 160's avg.
  • Loved the quote in Pro-Cycling from a pro DS who banned his riders from spinning in the off-season:

    "Spinning is for hairdressers, can you imagine Moser or Kelly spinning?"
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • Thanks for all your replies.

    Someone mentioned RPM here - that's a different kind of spin class, right?
  • Homer JHomer J Posts: 932
    Loved the quote in Pro-Cycling from a pro DS who banned his riders from spinning in the off-season:

    "Spinning is for hairdressers, can you imagine Moser or Kelly spinning?"

    :lol:
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027

    I'm looking to get back into cycling this year but finding the time to train is very difficult, so I'm going to 4 spinning sessions a week (on average) during the working day.

    Is spinning useful as a training aid, or not really?

    It seems quite good - lots of max effort reps - I certainly feel like I've been given a thorough L3/L4 workout for 45 minutes.

    Physically it's a good replica - I use my SPDs so the set-up and feel is the same.

    Is it useful and can it ever replace time on the bike (which I don't have)?

    No it is NOT the same as riding the bike on the road and will never be.
    You are never going to get your fitness levels up sufficiently or harden your legs/body off effectively.
    Most attendees take the line of least resistance (it is called laziness).. they will 'spin' up and sweat up but for hardly any quantifiable CV effect.

    Personally I would get a bike asap.. and in the meantime go do circuits in your gym (where obviously you are making the time available) where an instructor can kick you up your backside if you are slacking.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,492
    Homer J wrote:
    Loved the quote in Pro-Cycling from a pro DS who banned his riders from spinning in the off-season:

    "Spinning is for hairdressers, can you imagine Moser or Kelly spinning?"

    :lol:

    +1
  • SniggetSnigget Posts: 24
    jgsi wrote:

    No it is NOT the same as riding the bike on the road and will never be.
    You are never going to get your fitness levels up sufficiently or harden your legs/body off effectively.
    Most attendees take the line of least resistance (it is called laziness).. they will 'spin' up and sweat up but for hardly any quantifiable CV effect.

    Personally I would get a bike asap.. and in the meantime go do circuits in your gym (where obviously you are making the time available) where an instructor can kick you up your backside if you are slacking.

    I agree it isn't the same as riding a bike but also don't think it should be dismissed because of this.
    I have done RPM classes which provide a useful 45 minute interval session. The bikes display watts and RPM (which, I accept, are only as good as the calibration of the machine but can be used as a relatve measure if you use the same bike) and have a pretty good way of setting resistance ( much better than the ones with a knob which you turn to press afelt pad on the wheel).
    As for being lazy. Thats up to the individual. You could just as easily be lazy out on the road.
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    If you are short of time and have a choice between spinning and circuit training in the gym and you want to become better at cycling I would choose SPINNING! (Gym work i great but perhaps not the best use of time for cyling improvement).
    Use a HRM to make sure you dont slack and give it all youve got.
    A spinning bike that you can adjust to suit your body is almost as good as your own bike and is similar to riding 'fixed' in that the flywheel drags your legs round whether you like it or not!
    yes you may have to endure terrible music, overheating and copious sweating but it has to be better than sofa sessions. You dont get road/trail riding skills or endurance or hardness in the face of gales and rain but you do get a reasonable/good cardio workout with similar if not the same neuromuscular efforts. you can do back to back sessions at some gyms or morning & evening sessions and my experience is that with careful choice of sesion 7instructor adn planning it can be a very valid part of winter training!
    Have fun!
  • milese wrote:
    Surely its like a session on the turbo trainer, but with added motivation of looking at girl's bottoms in lycra

    EFA :D
    ________________________________________________________
    It\'s not about where you are going, it's about what you leave behind.
  • mclarentmclarent Posts: 784
    it's like anything - you use it right, you can get benefits. I use the spin bikes at the gym when I can't train in the evening (not taking classes). Once you get used to the resistance wheel thingy, it's ok, as long as you have a specific target and measurement (2x20s/HRM etc)
    "And the Lord said unto Cain, 'where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, 'I know not: I dropped him on the climb up to the motorway bridge'."
    - eccolafilosofiadelpedale
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