Created in 1986 by fitness guru Jonathan Goldberg, spin bikes are typically part of an indoor cycling programs. These programs mimic outdoor conditions such as climbing hills and sprinting for a finish. According to indoor cycling instructor and WebMD senior medical editor Dr. Brunilda Nazario, the primary benefits of riding a spin bike includes decreased blood pressure, reduced weight and increased strength.
A spin bike provides a low-impact cardiovascular workout that is easy on the knees and ankles. Because of the fast rotation of the pedals, you build lean muscles in your legs and thighs instead of bulking up. During a spin class, you may hear references to resistance or cadence. Personalize how much resistance to add to the wheel; this affects how easily or difficult it spins. Your cadence is how many times per minute your foot pedals to one complete circle. To determine this, count how many times one foot goes around in 10 seconds and multiple this number by six.
With speed training or all out sprints, you can choose to stand up or remain seated on the bike. If you stand up, make sure to engage your core and do not let your body move in front of the seat; this can cause knee strain. Following a 10-minute warmup, do four 60-second fast intervals using a low gear and a high cadence. Recover for two minutes between intervals. Fully recover after this set with a six-minute easy ride. Then complete 10 to 12 30-second intervals during which you ride in a medium gear with a high cadence. Recover for 30 seconds between intervals. Finish with a 10-minute cool-down.
According to USA Cycling certified elite-level coach Joe Friel, indoor spin bike rides can be just as challenging as riding on the road. For these endurance sessions, begin with a 15-minute warmup in which you slowly increase your cadence. Ride until you are at a seven or eight out of 10 on the rate of perceived exertion and then aim to maintain this pace. With this type of ride, you want to stay within your aerobic heart rate zone to build your endurance. This means your heart rate will be at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Ride at this pace for 60 minutes followed by a 15-minute cool-down.
When you are tackling a hill on a spin bike, you want to add enough resistance so it feels like you are climbing. These can be done seated or standing but never add so much resistance that you cannot smoothly turn the pedals. With this type of workout, your cadence is typically lower than when you are sprinting. Begin with a 10-minute warmup, then increase the resistance to feel like you are on a hill; complete five intervals lasting between 10 to 30 seconds. Aim to increase your cadence for the first 10 seconds, then maintain it for the remainder of the interval. Take one to two minutes of easy spinning between each interval.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.