The Indoor Cycling Workout
If you're stuck at home, spinning is a great way to improve your muscular and cardio endurance. You may well already have an indoor cycle or regular. If your triathlon days are well behind you, you may be able to dig out the old turbo trainer from the loft. A word of caution - turbo trainers have improved immeasurably in recent years and are no longer as noisy as they were - so it may well be worth picking up a new one at an affordable cost. A low end one will set you back no more than £65-80.
Indoor cycling may seem like one of the most unnatural things in the world, but it’s incredibly beneficial from a health and fitness point of view. You also get better at it very quickly.
So why, as a runner, should you persevere with spinning? Well firstly, spinning is designed to have a big impact in a short period of time. Half an hour on a spin bike can burn well past the 300-calorie mark, which means you’re using your time very efficiently. It's essentially a consistent tirade of exercise with no sign of stopping until the end.
The previously mentioned high calorie burn comes largely down to the fact that the key muscles areas involved are the gluteus maximus and the quadriceps, both of which are some of the largest muscles in the body. The result? They need more calories to operate.
The second benefit to spin is its cardio aspect. The fact that you’re maintaining a consistent pace and effort for a relatively long period of time, as opposed to running on the road, means that your heart rate is maintained at a high effort level. Consistently pushing your heart and lungs will increase your lung and heart capacity, which will be an added bonus the next time you’re running a race.
Thirdly, spinning helps to build muscles that help, but aren’t sufficiently worked, by running. In the same way that trail running helps develop stabiliser muscles that don’t get a look in when road running, spinning can help develop leg muscles that get less attention. Your balance and posture will benefit, both of which will help you run more efficiently and avoid injuries.
If you're using your allocated daily exercise up for a walk or run, an indoor spin can be the answer. It will also help protect you from injury by overtraining the same muscles all the time. Spinning is one of the most complimentary forms of cross training for runners because, unlike running, it's low impact yet still builds strength and cardio fitness that you want as a runner. In short, it’s easier on your joints and doesn't halt your progress.
If you do have access to a spin bike you just need a good workout to follow, and maybe an internet connection on your phone (here’s an example video). The majority of workouts will focus heavily on either speed or make you turn up the resistance on the bike to replicate hills. Both are hard and both will make you cover the floor in sweat.
Building your own spin workout is pretty simple. Choose a selection of songs that you want to work out to and follow a theme for each one. Ensure that you are pushing yourself during each of the songs, bar the warm-up and recovery ones.
Song 1 - Warm-up
Song 2 - Standing during verses, sitting during chorus
Song 3 - Jump on beat
Song 4 - Seated hill
Song 5 - Recovery
Song 6 - Standing during verses, sitting during chorus
Song 7 - Standing slow hill climb
Song 8 - Sitting sprint
Song 9 - Jump on beat
Song 10 - Recovery
Song 11 – Stretch (off the bike)
Oh, and always remember to have a bottle of water and a towel with you. Literally always. If you don’t need them within about 20 minutes, you’re not working hard enough!
Always remember to have water and a towel to hand