You’d be forgiven if you at times confused spinning with visiting a cutting-edge nightclub. Depending on the class, your playlist may include electronica, house music, hip-hop, old-school head-banging -- whatever the DJ-in-disguise instructor and her MP3 player provide to help you bust through the pain barrier and into the endorphin rush of the final five minutes of class. But if you perform standing hill-climbs to trance-inducing motivators like Bassnectar’s “Massive Attack Remix” or Silversun Pickups’ “Panic Switch” too much -- say seven days a week -- a remix of your exercise plan is in order.
Spinning needs to fit smoothly into your larger exercise plan. Personal trainers love to have you become a beautifully proportioned Nestie typically by following a plan for three days of cardio and three days of strength work each week, with 45 to 60 minutes at each session -- recommendations in line with the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health, the Surgeon General and the American Heart Association. Up to five days of intense cardio can be feasible, as long as you maintain your strength workouts so you build up rather than burn lean muscle mass.
To arrive at a spinning exercise plan, look at your overall time available for cardio work. If you would like to schedule three cardio activities a week, for example, one or two spin classes can be part of the plan; you can attend more, say two or three spin classes, if they are part of a larger total number of cardio sessions, recommends Lauren Widmer, a certified spin instructor based in Baltimore, Maryland. “You need to do other cardio and other strength work, as well as stretching, to create a well-rounded exercise plan,” Widmer advises. “You don’t want to always run or spin. You have to find an exercise program that’s fun and not too monotonous so you have some variety.”
While the classic Spin class lasts 40 to 45 minutes, you may see hour-long or 90-minute classes also on offer on your gym’s group-exercise schedule. “The different lengths cater to how much time you have at the gym,” Widmer notes. “In addition, during a 45-minute class, a certain amount of time is going to involve anaerobic exercise. The longer classes have more of an endurance focus.”
The Rest of the Plan
To complete your cardio program, schedule either impact or non-impact cardio for one or two days a week. Non-impact options include swimming, rowing and the elliptical machine, and are particularly suited for Nesties trying to lose body fat. Impact options include running, jogging, Zumba Fitness classes and racket sports. Yoga can provide a stretching component as well as a complementary approach to breathing, mental focus and inner experience to Spinning.
- NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training; Roger W. Earle, et al.
- Lauren Widmer; Certified Spinning Instructor; Baltimore, Maryland
- Military.com: Choosing Non-Impact Workout Options
- Yoga Journal: Asanas for Spinning
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.