The Ultimate Lunchtime Workouts: Part III
In part three of our Lunchtime Workouts series, Team Iffley's Tom Wheatley takes us through a killer spinning workout, great for improving your muscular and cardio endurance.
If you've already read my previous posts covering lunchtime workouts (in the park and in the gym), then you’ll know that being good at running isn’t just about doing more and more running. Sure, you can’t really become Mo Farah without doing some running, but there is a whole host of things you can do to supplement your training which will be massively beneficial, without having to just constantly up the mileage.
People who’ve done spinning normally fall into two camps: those who love it and those who would rather go twelve rounds with Mike Tyson than spend 45 minutes on a spin bike. For years I was in the latter camp. I remember the first time I did a spin class. Three quarters of an hour puffing and panting, sweat dripping down my face with the constant high-pitched beeps of a relentless Europop playlist as my only distraction. Needless to say, I didn’t go again for another few years.
Despite the fact that going to a spin class initially seems like one of the most unnatural things in the world, 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, like most lunchtime classes available at the gym or studio, 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.
Half an hour on a spin bike can burn well past the 300-calorie mark, which means you’re using your time very efficiently.
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 or doing a HIIT class, 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 (oh yes, there’s more), 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.
Want more? Okay. As any runner will know, there comes a point in any training plan when you really can’t be bothered to go out for a run. You’ve been doing it for weeks, you want a break from it. That’s when you need to start cross training. Not only will it fight boredom and fatigue from doing the same thing all the time, but it’ll 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.
Spinning has been one of the fastest growing exercise trends over the past two decades, with the majority of gyms offering some form of spin, so finding one shouldn’t be too tough. Most will have a trainer at the front that guides the workout, however as the world becomes more technology-led there are a growing number of virtual spin classes that use a computer screen. Depending on your preference, either can work however I’d always opt for the one with a real trainer as they tend to make sure you’re not slacking. After all, spinning was designed to generate motivation in a group setting.
Digme Fitness - Richmond. Photo Credit: Beth Wilson
If you do have access to a spin bike and don’t want to attend a class 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 take water and a towel in with you. Literally always. If you don’t need them within about 20 minutes, you’re not working hard enough!
Always remember to take water and a towel in with you.
You can view the other posts in our Ultimate Lunchtime Workouts series below: