26 December 2011

Boxing Day and attending a spinning session

One hour of quality work on the spinning bike.

Stationary exercise bicycles, aka spinning bikes.
Boxing Day and I went to attend a spinning session. I do this every now and then when I am in need of a quality workout without having to worry about traffic and other inherently distracting situations when riding on the road.

Did I say one session? Well, it was two spinning sessions in a row which gave me a total of 1.5 hours on the bike, one hour of real work, the rest being a warm-up and a lengthy cool-down.

At my gym the only way to use spinning bikes is by attending a scheduled group session. I usually choose a bike in a quiet corner of the last row. Since I design my own sessions, I don't want to disturb people following the group instructor's ride.

Today's session was to be a continues aerobic ride. Here are the details of my session:

  • Warm-up, 10 minutes, mostly easy spinning, including a few standing sprints to get my heart-rate up.
  • Work interval #1, 15 minutes continuous aerobic pace (average ~72% MHR).
  • Break #1, 1 minute easy spinning.
  • Work interval #2, 16 minutes continuous aerobic pace (average ~75% MHR, pushed slightly harder here).
  • Break #2, 1 minute easy spinning.
  • Work interval #3, 30 minutes continuous aerobic pace (average ~72% MHR).
  • Cool-down, 17 minutes, easy spinning, in the middle a few standing sprints to keep my heart-rate from drifting too low (I had to wait for the end of the group session).
           MHR = maximum heart-rate.

During the last few minutes of every work interval I pushed a bit harder (increased resistance) in order to get my heart-rate up a bit higher ahead of the break. I call them breaks not recovery intervals, as there was hardly any recovery in the short time of 1 minute, just a slight drop in heart-rate. The breaks are to hydrate and to break the monotony of the ride.

Heart-rate chart of today's workout.

Take a look at the heart-rate chart included here. It nicely reflects the pattern of the session. Result: a total of 61 minutes spent at a nice aerobic pace.

If you want to see all the data of this session, click here.  
Candace during work intervals was 90 RPM or slightly above. In the absence of a cadence meter, I guessed it. This is my normal cruising cadence when riding on the road.

Given a more or less stable cadence of 90 RPM, intensity is regulated by the resistance applied to the flywheel.

This aerobic ride is only one example of what you can do with a spinning bike. Spinning bikes are also perfect for high(er) intensity interval sessions, or when in a flat area like Bangkok, to simulate hill-climbs.  Similar sessions can of course be done on a bicycle trainer.

The advantage of indoor cycling is that you can fully concentrate on the workout without having to worry about traffic, stopping at intersections etc. You can get more quality work out of a shorter workout duration. And you are not dependent on weather, location, and time of day. If your bike is set up correctly for your body, it is a safe and efficient way to exercise.

However, since races are conducted outdoors these indoor sessions are to be seen to compliment road sessions, not to replace them. They are pure training tools.

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