Spinning 101

Hop on a bike, and let's ride!

I hate running. But I need cardio. We all need cardio. Enter: spinning. I think spinning is the best cardio you can do if you're not running, and I love it.

Why I love spinning

1. It's kinda like a party...on a bike.
2. It burns upwards of 400 calories (on the light side).
3. It's a challenge, every time.
4. I can be intense and not feel like a weirdo.
5. The energy you feel from a good spin class is like no-other workout.

What you'll need for your first spin

  • H2O: keep hydrated through the entire spin. Bring at least one full water bottle.
  • A towel. Place the towel on the handlebars for extra grip, and use it to towel off.
  • Spin shoes are awesome, but not a must if you're just starting off. If you're going to continue to spin, definitely buy some. They'll help speed up your legs, and you'll have a completely different ride once you clip in. I recommend Pearl Izumi shoes (you can get them at a spin store, or online).
  • Motivation. Make sure to eat something a few hours before class. If you're starving and are running on empty, you'll regret it.
Pick a bike...any bike.

Helpful tips

  • Get there early to size the bike to fit your body. The seat (saddle in spin language) should be about hip high, and the handlebars should be slightly higher than that. Hop on the bike to feel it out, and make sure it's comfortable; you'll be there for over 45 minutes.
  • Get on the beat! The music should be driving the entire class, song by song. Try to match your cadence to the beat of the song. If you're musically challenged like so many of us, follow the instructor's legs and match his or her cadence.
  • Wear moisture-wicking workout clothes. You'll sweat. A lot.
  • Keep a light grip. If you have the proper form, you should be able to remove your hands, and still maintain posture on the bike. Once you're advanced, you can try using no hands on certain rides.
  • Harness the energy. The class will likely be full, and everyone's there for the same reason. Use the energy to go faster and push harder.
  • Don't cheat yourself and go easy. You're there to work, but only you know if you're really working. Challenge yourself.

Spin lingo

  • Saddle: the seat
  • Position 1: in the saddle, normal ride
  • Position 2: out of the saddle, "standing" position, body perpendicular with floor
  • Position 3: out of the saddle, hands on furthest part of handlebars, body at 45 degree angle to floor
  • Sprint: fast cadence, lower resistance
  • Climb: slow cadence, higher resistance
  • Hover: out of the saddle, body parallel with floor, as low as you can go while keeping your cadence
  • Breakaways: lower resistance sprint, followed immediately by high resistance climb (will spike your heart rate if done correctly)
  • Jumps: quick, small rises from saddle (can be done in position 2 or 3)
  • Touchbacks: quick touch of the butt on the saddle while in position 2 or 3

If Victoria's Secret Angels spin, it must be good, right?