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Spin Class No No's

Flybye2010-05-02 13:58:45 +0000 #1
Since I am new to the spin class and my instructor can't be much more than, like, say, totally twelve years old

or something

can you spinners give me and other newbies who have recently been won over to spinning some spinning No No's. Tips on what not to follow a trainer in doing or in doing ourselves?

Thankya thankya thankya!
Zen2010-05-02 14:08:42 +0000 #2
Pffff hahaha....sorry, I'm laughing because i do whatever i feel like most of the time.

I work hard but if I need more time to recover, I take it. If i don't want to stand, sprint, or climb, I don't.

I don't know what else to tell you.

I think the only thing I could tell you not to do are hamstring stretches while on the bike.
Tuckervill2010-05-02 14:39:21 +0000 #3
I don't go to spin classes. I just wanted to say that I try to apply zen's philosophy pretty much to my whole life!!

But seriously, I do go to boot camp 3x a week. An interesting exchange between me and the instructor; we were doing a circuit and I was down on the floor doing the ab-roller.

Me: How long are we going? [I need to know this so I'll know when to switch sides.]

He: Go til I tel you to stop (he was tongue-in-cheek, but still)

Me: Ha. I'm secure in the knowledge you can't make me do anything I don't want to do.

He: Were you also a strong-willed child?

Me: I believe the word they used on my report card was "headstrong".

Participate at your own level. Do just what zen said to do. You only submit to their instruction at your pleasure anyway. They can't "make you" do anything at all.

latelatebloomer2010-05-02 14:18:40 +0000 #4
Once a spin "instructor" at our gym had people put the fronts of their bikes up on the plastic blocks used in the step classes. don't do that, 'kay? (things like this happen when management throws any trainer on a bike to lead a class, I hate it.)

And be aware of your warm-up needs. Take the time you need even if the person leading the class wants you at 75% in the first five minutes.

It is possible to hurt yourself on a spin bike, so when something doesn't feel right, stop doing it. There's the "pleasurable" pain of working your muscles and lungs hard, but joint pain IS a no-no. For example, some instructors have us do jumps - lifting up off the seat to a forward position and sitting down again - in quick succession. I have a knee that hates them - but I can do every OTHER jump & concentrate on form/control.

Drink lots, even if the instructor isn't cueing you.

oh, and stay off bike 18. That's my favorite.
KnottedYet2010-05-02 15:08:31 +0000 #5
I've had a couple people who were injured (knees) from "mashing" in spin class, where the instructor had them turn the resistance waaaaay up and pretend they were climbing a hill.

I asked if they switched gears while riding their real bikes, so they could keep cadence up hills. "Yup, we do." "Does your knee hurt when you're on your real bike?' "Nope, it doesn't." If you don't mash on your real bike, be very careful about how much you mash on the spin bike.

Like LateLate said, if it hurts it's not good. Listen to your knees, especially... cuz you don't want to end up in physical therapy! (insert evil laugh here)
Funhog2010-05-02 15:38:48 +0000 #6
I've got a long list for you!! In fact, I am in the middle of writing an e-book on the subject that will be called Keep It Real. I'll be marketing it through , and on my Spinning blog: . (expected completion...end of summer). Of course, I come up with resistance from the instructors who actually think aerobics on an indoor stationary bike that doesn't move is good in the name of "fitness"...

But we cyclists know it isn't!

Rule of thumb: if you wouldn't do it outdoors, don't do it indoors. That being said, there are some "safe" things we can do indoors, that are just drills. Jumps for example - an outdoor movement that has been modified indoors into a drill. You wouldn't go down the street rhythmically coming out of and back into your saddle. Indoors it's fun and can improve your transitions, and works your anaerobic system. And it provides variety for students. Personally, I rarely jump in class. But students like it (just don't do them too fast, see below...).

I wrote the Contraindications continuing ed workshop for Spinning about 6 years ago after being horrified by what I saw as rampant craziness in indoor cycling classes around the country. I looked at the biomechanics of the most popular moves, and interviewed well-known cycling coaches and scientist on some of them (including Joe Friel, and even Ed Burke shortly before he passed away. He's the author of countless books, like The Science of Cycing).

Most importantly, I looked at the Risk:Benefit ratio of each move.

Is there a risk? Can it injure joints, muscles, soft tissue, etc? Do you have to be a skilled acrobat to do it? If you answered yes to any of these, don't do it!

What's the benefit? Will it help your cycling? Will it improve your endurance, pedal stroke, strength, leg speed? Will it cause positive physiological adaptations?

Mind you, this is not a "philosophy" difference of the different kinds of IDC programs. This is looking at the science and biomechanics. If someone says their "program" taught them it's ok to do isolations or squats, then you have to wonder if that program knows anything about cycling or biomechanics. These bikes are solid pieces of metal that don't flex or bend or move, and that has implications on how we should move our bodies while riding it. You can't go doing things that go against the proper biomechanical principles of riding a bike, and you must also take into consideration the differences (like, not flexing).

Here's a partial list of Contraindicated Moves (Just Don't Do It!):

Isolations: AKA Freezes. Benefit: NONE! It causes tension and muscle and joints pain.

I've never figured this one out, why instructors teach this. Does nothing for balance, as some say. Does nothing for core, as some say. If you want to train your core - get on a stability ball! Because the bike doesn't flex, you must allow the energy created by the legs to dissipate through your upper body; Isolating or freezing stops this energy - and it goes right into a joint.

Squats: similar to the above, but you lower your hips, or squat. They claim to "love the burn in the quads." That burn is from mechanical inefficiency of the muscle fibers - it's not a good burn. Pay attention to the pain in the knees! These instructors must get commissions from local orthopedic doctors... Here's an example: next time you see a long flight of stairs, or multiple floors, climb them without straightening your leg. You would soon tell me I'm crazy because it hurts your knee. And I might say, "but wow, isn't that a great burn in the thighs?" Wouldn't you continue that in the name of "fitness"? No way, so why do people let instructors in Spin class tell them to do this? You want that leg workout? Go to the gym and do leg presses - it has no place in an indoor cycling class. High risk: zero benefit.

Hovers: pushing your butt back over the saddle (and freezing). Supposedly to mimic a mountain bike position...but if you've ever gone downhill on a single track (the only time you'd do this), YOU'RE NOT PEDALING and you're moving your bike side to side underneath you. So doing this indoors on a stationary metal bike will do you no good, and it puts the PCL on stretch and hinders a proper pedal stroke. High risk: no benefit, no skill transfer.

Upper body movements (side-to-side, figure-8's, "cornering", push-ups, etc). My legs are going round and round 80-90-100 times per minute, and you're asking me to twist or turn my upper body? High risk of injuries to the low back and other body parts. Better have your chiropractor's number handy! Benefit? None. Especially pushups - if you've ever done them on the floor you know that to improve your strength, you need resistance - your body weight against gravity. Sorry, doing them on a handlebar just doesn't cut it.

"Popcorn" jumps (or superfast jumps): Silly, silly move. No point, no benefit, very high risk. They hurt, but people blindly follow. They hinder a good pedal stroke, they risk the knees, back, hips and shoulders. You should sit all the way down in the saddle each time (some instructors say "don't sit completely in the saddle - which causes you to decelerate with your back muscles - ouch!), and come all the way to the correct standing position.

Super fast cadences: you might think it helps leg-speed, but that 38-42 lb flywheel does most of the work for you at high cadences, so no benefit. Unless you're a categoried racer, or someone with a very high power-to-resistance ratio (and a beautifully trained smooth pedal stroke), if you're going faster than 110 rpm for any length of time, you won't see any improvement in your own leg speed. It's very different on a bike outdoors. Plus, there's high risk for less conditioned or skilled riders and makes HR control difficult. If you're going that fast, you'd be better off adding resistance and slowing down, and then maybe getting something out of it. No benefit: High risk, little to no skill transfer.

ONe-legged pedaling: being a fixed-gear bike with a heavy flywheel, this does nothing for you on a stationary bike, and if the pedal hits your other leg, it doesn't stop like your road bike will (ouch). Try this on your road bike on a trainer - it's very difficult and is an excellent way to train the neuromuscular firing patterns of your pedaling leg. Then try it on a Spin bike: it's so easy! There's no transfer of skill, no adaptations. No benefit: high risk, no skill transfer.

Super high resistances: if you can't climb that hill at 60 rpm (one per second) you have too much resistance. If there's any kind of body-contorting just to turn the pedals, it's too high. Cycling isn't about "pure strength", it's about muscular endurance. The ability to repeatedly contract against a resistance. People get injured from this, and really, it doesn't impress anyone. It's an ego move...

Hold your abs in: cyclists need to breathe, and we need to breathe from the abdomen. Holding the abs tight in the name of "core conditioning" hinders breathing, and hence, 02 transport. you can maintain your core without sucking in the abs. Tour de France cyclists learn to breathe with extended bellies - so should we if we want increase oxygenation! [But cyclists do need lots of off-the-bike core training because riding a bike doesn't help us much there, just don't do it on the bike].

Jump Starts: there's lots of names for this, but it's starting at a high resistance from a total stand still, and then sprinting as hard as you can go. This could potentially be helpful for racers and power riders, but not for your general Spin class. The problem is these indoor bikes aren't designed for this kind of torque, and those crank arms can break. True story: an instructor I know told me of a large guy in class who was powering on his pedals, the crank broke, and it ended up embedded IN his calf.... ugh!

I had a chain break on me one time while in a standing climb and I thank my lucky stars I wasn't injured...imagine doing something high powered like this and "crack"!

One final thought:

Just ride the bike!
Zen2010-05-02 16:15:20 +0000 #7

I think your info is good but really geared toward instructors.

For Fly and others like her, information overload!

I could be wrong, it did happen once in 1987.
Funhog2010-05-02 15:46:26 +0000 #8

Originally Posted by zencentury


I think your info is good but really geared toward instructors.

For Fly and others like her, information overload!

I could be wrong, it did happen once in 1987.

Perhaps, but she asked what to do and not to do if her instructor tells her to do something. I believe that if someone is told not to do something, there needs to be justification why not. Maybe for some students who read this, some lightbulbs will go off as a result and they'll change what they're doing - that's a good thing. Maybe they love the "burn" they get from isolations or squats but always wondered whether that pain in the back or knees made it worth the risk.

Also, maybe someone will want to print this out and give it to their instructor if he/she does a lot of contraindicated moves - maybe his/her classes will become safer. If only one instructor or spin student out there benefits from this, then I'm grateful!

Or maybe it's overload...

I'm open to any questions about any of these moves.



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