Spinning & the Maximum Heart Rate

Your heart rate determines your spinning workout intensity.

Your heart rate determines your spinning workout intensity.

Spinning is an indoor cycling workout with varied intensity levels based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate uses an age-based formula of subtracting your age from 220. Knowledge of your MHR and working within the percentage-based target heart rate zones helps you reach specific workout goals.


An indoor cycling class is often referred to as spinning. These group exercise workouts challenge your cardiovascular system by increasing your heart rate. The faster you pedal and the more resistance you place on the flywheel, the higher your heart rate elevates. The American Council on Exercise lists indoor cycling as a high-intensity exercise. An ACE-sponsored cycling research study reports that participants exercise at heart rate levels near the MHR.


Indoor cycling is an effective way to improve your cardiovascular endurance. The key is to exercise within a specific percentage of your MHR. Spinning.com recommends a target heart rate of 65 percent to 75 percent of your MHR for endurance training. Calculate your heart rate training zone by multiplying your MHR by 0.65 and 0.75.


Spinning classes use a combination of heart rate zones to add workout variety and to improve both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. For example, you begin with a low-intensity warmup cycle that increases your heart rate between 50 percent and 65 percent of your MHR, then add a hill that increases your rate to 85 percent to 90 percent of your MHR, and return to a flat road sprint that reaches 75 percent to 85 percent of your MHR.


The closer you get to your MHR during training, the more your body shifts into using the anaerobic energy system. Anaerobic processes occur in the absence of a large amount of oxygen. What this does for you is to prepare your body to perform at these higher intensity levels such as during a race or long ride. Alternate days of anaerobic training with days of lower-paced endurance training for a well-rounded workout program.

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About the Author

A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.

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