As a newly qualified group cycling instructor I am extremely excited to launch new fit spin classes at my gym. In my eagerness to make sure all my fellow spinners get the best out of my classes, I have devised a checklist of 4 actions you can take to prepare your body.
Everyone comes to spin class for with their own goals. The most common reasons for taking part include weight loss and increased cardiovascular fitness. But no matter what your motive for jumping into the saddle, spin classes should be supplemented with other exercises.
A strong core is crucial to you having a safe yet effective spinning session. Without your abs to stabilise your body it is likely to that you will compensate by adopting bad posture and slouching on the handlebars. This will lead to you having aches and pains in all the wrong. Exercises like plank variations will help develop muscular endurance in your core muscles and prevent lower back injury during classes.
<Check out my article on how TRX can improve your core strength.>
While the muscles in the lower half of your body are heavily utilised during spin classes it is predominantly the quadriceps (front of the legs) and glutes that do most of the work (unless specialise cycling shoes are used). This runs the risk of you accidentally developing a muscular imbalance between the quads and hammies. One result of this can be knee pain.
To correct or prevent weak hamstrings exercises you should try a couple of the best: Deadlifts and lying hamstring curls using the TRX.
Everyone knows spin classes are tough. No matter how fit you are you should never leave a class feeling that you haven’t worked and worked hard. However not everyone is used to pushing their limits so other HIIT workouts should be performed to not only increase your cardiovascular endurance but get you comfortable with being uncomfortable.
HIIT training is simply going hard for a short interval (15-60 seconds) and then dropping the intensity to a moderate intensity for 20-90 seconds to allow for recovery. This can be performed on the treadmill, cross trainer, using boxes or burpees. There are many possibilities.
Hip Flexor Stretches
Tight hips can lead to back pain. Most people with desk jobs are likely to have tight hips as they are sitting for long times in the same position. And spinning doesn’t help this problem because you as are still in this seated position for most of the class.
Short tight hip flexors can be lengthened and relaxed through stretching them out regularly. 5 to 7 times a week will have you gaining flexibility in no time. You should never stretch cold muscles, (unless you want to cause injury that is). Make a point of leaving enough time at the end of your workouts to develop a crucial component of fitness, your flexibility. A good beginner’s stretch is a kneeling hip flexor stretch. An intermediate stretch would be the pigeon stretch. Each stretch should be held for at least 20-30 seconds.
It is worth noting that you shouldn’t be stretching to the point of pain but balancing between feeling nothing and some tension. As the stretch gets easier, easy yourself deeper into it in a slow and controlled manner. And lasting never ever should you be bouncing in the stretch, I see this tactic commonly employed by beginners in order to get further in the stretch and runs a high risk of damage.
In fitness there is a principle of specificity which everyone is familiar with. What it means is that to become better at one sport you need to practise that one activity. But as champs like Usain Bolt will tell you, to be a better athlete, his training doesn’t consist of just running very fast all the time. In a similar fashion to become a better spinner and build a better body you should take a multi-disciplinary approach to your fitness regime.
See you at spin class ;D