Category Archives: spin class

Workout Wednesday – Cycling Overspins

Welcome to  Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Bike trainer

This week workout is Cycling Overspins.

This is a fun workout.  Overspins are essentially sprinting with a light gear. The benefits are better pedaling efficiency and higher cadence. This workout forces you to increase your cadence beyond your normal range. Working at a higher cadence will strengthen those fast switch muscles that smooth out your pedal stroke.

During the workout focus on making good circles with your legs. Push and pull all the way through the stroke. If you are doing it correctly your upper body will be relatively still and your legs will be spinning fast. Imagine you are a duck swimming on a lake, calm on the top, and swimming away under water.

This workout should be performed on a spin bike or trainer. Aim for 20-30 RPMS faster than your normal cadence. If you normal cadence is 80 RPMS try to maintain 100-110. Set the resistance light, just enough to keep your speed under control.

This workout is not very taxing to your legs or cardio. It can be done at the end of another workout or on a scheduled easy bike day. I suggest putting on your favorite loud fast tunes and enjoying the workout.

Overspin Workout

  • Warm up 5 min
  • 3 X 1 min @ 60%/30 secs rest
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 min steady @ 60% effort
  • 3 X 1 min @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 mins steady @ 60 % effort
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20-30 RPMS)/ 30 sec spin easy
  • 10 min cool down

Here’s great video explaining the basics of pedaling mechanics.


The Pros & Cons of Spin Class for Triathletes

Spinning class at the gym

Loud music blaring, an instructor yelling through a headset, and sweat flying everywhere. Ah Spin Class! Spin class is essentially riding a bike, but not actually going anywhere. Spin class as an effective tool in your triathlon training plan. As with all training activity, there are some pro and cons. Below, I will discuss the advantages and concerns of spin class when used in an effective training plan.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • Save Time – Just jump in a class and go. No need to get on a bunch of gear to ride outside or drive to a safe area to ride.
  • No Cars – I have personally never heard of anyone being hit by a car on a spin bike.
  • Constant Effort – There aren’t any stop lights, cars, dogs, or anything else to make you stop. This is the biggest “bang for your buck” with spin. If you are on the bike for 45 minutes, you get 45 minutes of work. This is especially effective for interval work. You can maintian your effort for your interval without uninterrupted.
  • Weather, What Weather – Unless the AC breaks, there’s no need to worry about conditions. No hot, cold, rain, sleet. This also means you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to train.
  • Motivation – The energy from a room full of others working hard can give you the motivation to push. A good instructor will also keep the energy level high.
  • Pre-planned Workout – No need to plan or think, just show up and do the instructor’s workout. The energy spent planning a workout is sometimes harder than just doing it.

Here are some areas where spin classes lack effectiveness for triathlon training:

  • Too much intensity – Most spin classes are designed to get a good sweat going, and make the clients feel like they have put in a hard effort. This is great if your goal for that workout was high intensity, if be mindful of your intensity. A good training plan will have a mix of high and lower intensity work. Too much high intensity work leads to injury and burnout. You can still do class on an easier planned day, just dial back the resistance and intensity.
  • Bike Handling – All of these spin classes are going to give you some new found speed. Before your race be sure to work on some bike handling skills. Bike handling skills include turning, leaning, stopping, climbing, and descending. The only way to gain these skills is to go on the road and ride at your race speed. The more comfortable you are with these skills the faster you can go.
  • Speed Perception – You can put massive power to the spin bike pedals, but you don’t move. It’s important to get out on the road, and know what speed you produce for your effort. In a race proper pacing is balancing the effort vs speed. Know what effort produces what speed, sop you can properly pace during your race.

Over all spin classes are great for bike and overall fitness. I personally attend at least one class a week. I go to class with my wife, as it is a workout we can do together, and both get benefit. They are not a complete substitute for time on the road. Be sure to do some miles on the road, so on race day you are comfortable on the bike.

Do you use spin classes in your training?

Step Out of the Pain Cave – 5 Tips for Better Indoor Cycling Workouts

I wake up at 6am for the normal 7:30 group ride. I go to the window, its still pitch black dark, and 35F outside. This is where the will power wanes, and the excuses kick in. Do I really want to put on all of that cold weather gear, and freeze my tail off for 2 hours? I could go back to that warm bed, and ride later, which turns into never.

When mother nature turns down the thermostat, and shuts the lights off early, its time to switch to indoor cycling workouts. You don’t want to lose all fitness in those finely chiseled legs, earned by riding all summer. With some quality time spent cycling indoors, you can maintain some of that fitness. Indoor cycling can be incredibly boring. Don’t view it as a sentence to a dull sweaty prison. Instead, here’s some tips to get the most out of your indoor sessions:

Leg Speed

1. Keep it short – 

Quality over Quantity is the key for effective indoor work. Interval work is the best bang for your buck. Quality interval workouts will keep up your cycling fitness, without sitting on the trainer for hours at a time. A well planned session should only take 45 minutes.

Example Interval Workout

2. Spin Class – 

If you like to others around to keep you motivated, try a spin class. Most classes are under an hour and offer plenty of intensity. The great thing spin class is you don’t have to plan your workout, just show up and ride. Be careful not to over do it with intensity, if you are in your off season. When I go to class, I will modify the workout to fit my current goals.

3. No Pain Cave – 

I see people post pictures of their pain cave, the dungeon where they ride their trainers. Dark damp basements, smelly garages, and one guy I saw riding  in an old bathroom. If you are really into the suffering thing, I guess that’s ok. Since riding a bike going nowhere is already mentally tough, I like to be as comfortable as possible. Find a place where you are comfortable, that’s not too hot or cold. Be sure to have a fan, and plenty of water. You spouse may not want you riding in dining, but you on’t have to suffer next to the boiler.

4. DJ Handbar –

Be your own DJ, and have a great playlist. Great music will motivate you, and help you turn your brain off. Its also fun to play music games during the workout. You can sprint the choruses, and spin during the verses. Also, you can increase tension every time the singer repeats a phrase. Mix it up and jam out.

5. Drills

On a trainer you don’t have to worry about cars, loose dogs, or falling over. This is a great time to work on pedaling drills. Pedaling drills help you develop a stronger, smoother stroke. They emphasize one aspect of the stroke, so you can concentrate of firing those muscle groups.

Here’s some drills to make you pedal smooth like butter.