Monday, January 30, 2012

What's in a name? Possibly EVERYTHING.

I once announced that I was doing an endurance ride during the next class, to which I was then asked, "How long and steep is that?"

I coach at one of the "big box" gyms, which poses a couple of obstacles that you might not see at either a Spinning® only studio, or even some smaller gyms.  The clientel is wildly diverse, from those that have never set foot in a gym and can't spell cardio, to those serious athletes that are training to compete in the next Ironman.  What this means is that everyone that pretty much comes to a Spinning® class has heard the horror stories about how tough it is and that it's gonna push you; which can be completely right.  But here's the thing, there's a difference between working out and training, and the difference isn't what you might think.  Most would say that training is towards some goal type event like a race.  The real difference is working out just means you're going to exercise and most likely sweat, where training means you have a goal in mind and you know what steps are needed to reach that goal.  So maybe your goal is to lose weight instead of running a race; it's still a goal.

So enter Spinning's Endurance Energy Zone.  Without further definition you might have the same impression that the member in my studio had, "How long and steep is that?"  Well maybe we should call it a Fat-Burning Session (FBS) instead, and maybe that will get more butts in the saddle.

Here's what happens during a typical FBS ride.  It conditions your body to be more efficient at metabolizing fat stores and maintain a comfortable pace for extended periods.  This will help your body to increase it's aerobic capacity and resist fatigue.  You'll also see, if you have the right heart rate monitor, that your percentage of calories burned during your session will have a larger portion from fat than from any other ride.  Sure you may burn more calories in a kick-ass Interval session where 35% of your calories come from fat, but you may be better off doing an Endurance (FBS) where you can reach 45-50% of your calories coming from fat stores.

So why aren't these sessions taught more often?  Simple answer is, "They're boring."  Look at the Spinning® manual or talk with other instructors and they'll tell you that you HAVE to stay in the saddle for the entire time and maintain a steady pace.  This is both TRUE and FALSE.  If you're a road cyclist, you would want to maintain that steady pace, but you're also going to be doing it for 2+ hours getting ready for your next centennial ride.  But if you're simply a Spinner that is trying to get into shape then what you really have to be concerned with where your heart rate is, and per the Spinning® guidelines you can be between 65-80% of your max heart rate.  So you should be able to switch positions, breaking up the monotony of sitting in the saddle IF you watch you don't elevate your heart rate too much.

Time to ante up!
You already bought the cool looking top and shorts, heck you even have one of those eco-friendly stainless steel water bottles (that you usually leave at home and have to buy a water bottle on your way to the gym), but you're still guessing what your heart rate is.  If your a coach, that's totally unacceptable; time to lead by example.  But if you're a participant, you might want to reconsider your next fitness investment and funnel those funds towards a chest strap type heart rate monitor (don't even bother with the cheap ones that require you to put your fingers on two touch pads to check your pulse, they're not worth wasting your money.)

Expect to pay something between $70-$200 depending on what features you want and where you purchase from.  I would suggest you do a little research before hand to make sure you get what you want. 

My must have features include:
  • Heart rate (displayed as a percentage, not just bpm)
  • Record peak and average intensity during session
  • Coded transmitter (so you don't read someone else's pulse)

I'm currently using the FT7 shown here, but it's also my 3rd unit, my 2nd Polar brand.  I gave the previous one to my daughter, and the other I sold to a friend because I wanted a coded transmitter. 

Now back to the ride, IF there are those in your class that don't want to do the Endurance ride, not a problem; tell them they simply need to increase the resistance (not the cadence) and now they have an awesome Strength ride.  This also applies to those without heart rate monitors, so what if you accidentially go to high on your heart rate, you've simply changed to a strength ride, which is still better than sitting in front of the coach eating potato chips.

Download ENDURANCE 004 profile

Click on the heart rate chart above to download this profile as an Adobe file

 Class Builder File included in the above download
Requires the Class Builder app

Apple iTunes

Get the Class Builder app - Exclusively from iTunes

Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion
Class Builder™ by Cycling Fusion is simply the best indoor cycling app I've found.  This app let's you design, document and then ride each of your profiles. Designed for the fitness professional, this app handles both Pre- and Post- class music as well as a slide show (if interfaced with a monitor or projector).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On your marks...

Grab an extra water, maybe an extra towel, and get ready to SWEAT, and I mean buckets of it, cause I packed this one full of some of my favorite, get-your-heart-pumping, turn-up-the-volume music.  While there are certainly recovery opportunities during this profile, the work periods should push you and push you hard. 

Nearly every other song is some type of hill climb, so while you'll be working, you need to give your lungs a chance to recover and bring both your breathing and heart rate to lower levels.

By the time we hit Diamond Eyes by Shinedown you'll be relying on the last of your reserves to pull through the sprints.  Remember if your new to spinning, or coaching new participants, you shouldn't be doing sprints until you've got 6 good weeks of cardio base building.  We don't want to be practicing CPR during class time do we?

Side Note:  Since many of you know of the problems I've been having with my hamstring, which is healing quite well, thank you, I wanted to share a very informative and well written post I read yesterday.

The Function and Importance of the Posterior Chain

Download this profile... INTERVAL 022

Click on the heart rate chart to download this profile as an Adobe PDF

Click on the icon above to download the Class Builder profile
Requires the Class Builder app

Get the music from iTunes

Get the Class Builder app - Exclusively from iTunes

Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion
Class Builder™ by Cycling Fusion is simply the best indoor cycling app I've found.  This app let's you design, document and then ride each of your profiles. Designed for the fitness professional, this app handles both Pre- and Post- class music as well as a slide show (if interfaced with a monitor or projector).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is that smoke I smell or is that just your quads burning?

If you've been following me on Facebook you may have noticed that I took last Thursday off and that I had the flu.  What you might not know is that on Monday, I also resurrected an old injury from my martial arts fighting days, a popped hamstring.

Now when I had this injury in karate I actually heard the "pop" when my hammy decided it had had enough.  To be fair, the guy in front of my I was fighting heard it as well.  That injury took me out of commission for 2 weeks and from that point forward I wore compression shorts when doing karate.

So how did I injury myself this time?  Zumba!

Although I have two left feet I find Zumba to be a blast (once you get past being self conscience), and it's a pretty good ab workout, something I definitely want to work on more.  So I'm dredging the terrible and tricky path of recovery.  With hammy's it's particularly tricky because you need to make sure that you don't wait too long or you lose flexibility, but if you start too soon you risk additional injury.  That is one of the beauties of the Spinning program because the exercise itself is considered non-load bearing and low-impact (jarring of joints), while still making you sweat like it's nobody's business.

So I'll make double sure to warm up my muscles, stretch my glutes and hammy's, drinking lots of water before we do today's strength ride, and next week keep your eyes open as we start base building with endurance rides; I have somewhat unique position on endurance rides.

Download STRENGTH 013 profile

Click on the heart rate chart above to download an Adobe PDF of this ride profile

Need the music?

Get the Class Builder app - Exclusively from iTunes
Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion

Class Builder™ by Cycling Fusion is simply the best indoor cycling app I've found.  This app let's you design, document and then ride each of your profiles. Designed for the fitness professional, this app handles both Pre- and Post- class music as well as a slide show (if interfaced with a monitor or projector).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Muscle Confusion

Get a good look at the image to the right, because that's the kind of hill we're starting out with today.  Don't worry it only lasts about 14 minutes, and you don't even need to worry about wearing a helmet.

We're doing an interval ride today, but right at the beginning we're putting a long strength element in.  And the good news is we get to play on the other side of the mountain, so that's where we'll put in all the recoveries, jumps, and intervals.

Are you up for the challenge?

Download a PDF of this profile...INTERVAL 021

Click on the Heart Rate chart to download this profile as an Adobe PDF

Click on the icon above to download the Class Builder profile 

Friday, January 13, 2012

"It's a protein shake!" -

This past week while changing in the locker room at the gym, two young men were in the middle of a discussion about who's protein shake was better.  Now please keep in mind that these boys were both probably under 24 years old, and weren't focusing on health and fitness, they just wanted to be buff.

Their only focus was on how much protein was in their shake, and therefore their measurement of what was best was somewhat narrow.  The entire scene reminded me of one of my wife's and my favorite movies, "50 First Dates", where Sean Astin was a budding body builder but was disqualified because he couldn't pass the standard urine drug test. (I wonder if the lisp was due to the 'roids as well).

So all this to ask, do you know what you're ingesting? Sean Astin's character sure didn't. Duh!

Awhile back I saw this video, which is a bit long, but it's from Carl Daikeler (from Beachbody, you know the founders of P90X, Insanity, Hip-Hop Abs, etc...) and essentially it explains why they (Beachbody) decided NOT to come out with a Vanilla flavored version of their flagship product, Shakeology.  Essentially, it comes down to this, if they wanted to make vanilla then they would need to bind the wheatgrass component with an propolene glycol derivative.  In english, They would need to add some antifreeze from your car's radiator to that breakfast shake. Sound Yummy?  I didn't think so, so it begs to ask the question what's everyone else putting in their "health" shakes?

So what about the other things we're eating/drinking?
  • Mountain Dew
    Oh, how I loved this product until I had to quit drinking soda because I found that the citric acid was causing my chronic acid reflux.  I opted to stop drinking this instead of taking Prilosec
    Anyway, the 'Dew contains Sodium Benzoate, which when combined with Citric Acid forms a poison; but wait, act now and they include Calcium Disodium EDTA which is the antidote for the poison they created. (ref. article Good Ol' Mountain Dew)
  • Weight Watchers Cookies & Cream Bars
    Okay, I haven't eaten these because ice cream is not my kryptonite, but I thought it especially interesting that here's a product we eat to become healthy, and yet they use cellulose fiber (a.k.a. - wood) as a binder instead of other whole ingredients.  There are no known health issues with this, but it's used as a filler instead of more expensive ingredients; since I'm not a beaver I'd prefer to stay away from this. (ref. article: 15 Food Companies That Serve You Wood)
  • McDonald's salads
    Several salads have either cilantro lime glaze, or orange glaze added. Along with many of McDonald’s sauces, both of these glazes contain propylene glycol alginate. While propylene glycol is considered for human consumption, it is not legal for use in cat food because the safety hasn't been proven yet , and it's also used "As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles".  (ref article Fast Food Secrets)

I'm sure a little Google searching would yield a whole bunch of other things that would turn your stomach, but all this to say, in this time of year when so many of us are focusing on health and fitness we need to be aware of not only on how much food we eat, but what's in the food we eat.

If you are thinking about protein shakes, breakfast shakes, or supplements of some kind you may want to consider the Shakeology product.  I've been using it since May 2011 and I'm pretty happy with it.  The price tag at first was alarming, but when you think about what you're spending on breakfast anyway, or other vitamin supplements and realize you'll no longer need them, then it's not as shocking.  I will say, that Shakeology is not what I would call a protein shake because comparatively speaking it doesn't have as much protein as many of the other products on the market.  But what it does have is a great concentration of vitamins and minerals from natural ingredients.

My favorite recipe is "The Elvis":
 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
 1 banana
 1/2 Tbs. Peanut Butter
 1 cup water
 3/4 cub ice
 Blend and enjoy...approx 240 calories

Shakeology offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee if you don't like the product so feel free to try without risk or worry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Triples Anyone?

Strength is on the docket today; it's time we stay aerobic and build some muscle.  After all, building those big muscles in the lower half of your body will consume more energy even when they're at rest than fat.

Ladies, don't even think about going light and compensating the lighter resistance with higher speed; saying that you don't want to get big legs.  Trust me, you're not going to get big legs from doing this type of workout, but you most certainly will give better definition to those quads and glutes.

Lot's of opportunities for increases, but generally each increase is offset with a reduction in speed so that your heart rate doesn't increase over the 85% level.  We'll bring you straight out of a warm up, into a fast flat  to bring you to the bottom of the SEZ (Strength Energy Zone) of 75% and then we stay between 75% - 85% the rest of the time.  If you've got a heart rate monitor, try to keep between 80-85%, and adjust your resistance when needed to stay there.

Download a PDF of this profile...Strength 012

Notice how flat the strength profile is?  Once we're in that zone, we don't leave it until our cool down.

Need the Tunes?  Get them here.

Need the Class Builder app for your iPod, iPhone, or iPad?
Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion

Monday, January 9, 2012


The new year often brings promise of things you're going to do better than in the past, or new goals to strive for.

At my gym it also brings in a huge influx of new potential participants all with the admirable goal of getting into shape.  I both love and hate this time of year because it generally means I'll be struggling to get everyone properly setup on the bike for the first time and get my class started at the proper time, but I love full classes and the opportunity to help people establish some life changing habits.

So we're all going to have new people in class, but we'll still have most of our regulars (if they managed to get a bike).  The trick is to get them to repeat your class several times without dread and fear.  So tonight's ride can be considered extremely aggressive to the seasoned Spinner or cyclist, but allows for modifications for the newbie.  I also go through each of the core moves up to and including sprints so that they know what all there is to expect going forward.  I generally recommend that those new to cardio exercise NOT do the sprints, but to give them a taste of what  these are allow them to do one, but limit it to 10 seconds versus a full 30 seconds for the pro.

So what else is new at Spinning Freak?
Well if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm pretty sold on Cycling Fusion's Class Builder app for the  iPod, and since their latest release, I'm even more convinced.  So they've got a way to get the actual profiles imported and exported, so if you're interested in these (so you don't have to teach off of paper, or reenter all my cues) you'll be able to put these right into your iPod.  You'll still need to bring in each song but hey, that will take just a couple of minutes.  I'll explain this at the end of today's blog.

Today's is another INTERVAL.  I do these because they seem to be the most fun to the uninitiated.  You can download it here...INTERVAL 020

Click on the heart rate chart above to download a PDF of this ride profile.

Need a couple of the songs?

Now about the profiles:
If you haven't tried the Class Builder App from Cycling Fusion (available for iPod, iPhone & iPad) then it's time to invest because this thing rocks. Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion

Once you get the app, go out and download the iExplorer.  This allows you to actually go into the files stored on your iPod like you're looking at a CD or flash drive.  Look under the Apps > Cycling Fusion > Documents directory and you'll see the classes you've created OR you can simply drop new ones in there like the one I've provided for today's ride.   Here's the profile for Class Builder IEZ 020

Note:  You'll still need to attach the music for each segment with the music from your library.

On all future posts simply look for the Class Builder icon to download the profile for the ride.

Spin Hard, but spin smart!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I got ya break right here....break your will that is!

Tonight's ride is filled with Recovery periods, but to get the benefit out of the ride, you have to push yourself harder in between those recoveries.  Take advantage of the breaks and take some deep, controlled breaths to bring your heart rate down hopefully into the

Spinners, I'm introducing a new technique that cyclists use, so if you're not a outdoor rider pay attention.  Pace lining is the technique that road racers use to increase their speed.  You see the same affect when you see geese migrate, the lead cyclist (or goose) pushes harder, acting as a wind break for all behind them.  Then the next cyclist takes the lead and pushes hard, essentially pulling along the rest of his team, and so on.

In a Spinning class we can do this several ways, but my preferred method is to establish teams of riders.  In my studio that's easy because I have 3 rows of bikes.  I set up the front row for a hard 20second push, while the 2nd and 3rd row just get to go allow for the ride, then I allow the 1st row to lighten their intensity and have the 2nd row increase theirs, and so on to the next row. Get the idea.  Don't be worried if this is new and some of the riders don't get it the first time.  I also recommend that you as the coach get off the bike to coach this portion.  It will allow you to give better and clearer instruction.  Get out of your comfort zone and stop just instructing them on what to do, let's coach them.

Download this profile Interval 019

You can download the music by clicking on the iTunes button next to each song
  • Good Feeling - Good Feeling - Single"Good Feeling", Flo Rida (Good Feeling - Single)
  • Tonight - Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray (Deluxe 
Version)"Tonight", Seether (Holding On To Strings Better Left To Fray)
  • Where Them Girls At - 2011 Top 40 Hits"Where Them Girls At", David Guetta (Hits & Dance 2012)
  • Headstrong - Trapt"Headstrong", Trapt (Trapt)
  • Pump It - Monkey Business"Pump It", Black Eyed Peas (Monkey Business)
  • Pump It Up - The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years"Pump It Up", Elvis Costello (This Years Model [CD1])
  • Istanbul - Flood"Istanbul, not Constantinople", They Might Be Giants (Flood)
  • U + Ur Hand - Greatest Hits...So Far!!!"U + Ur Hand", Pink (Now Thats What I Call Music 25)
  • Indestructible - Indestructible"Indestructible", Disturbed (Disturbed)
  • Mr. Saxobeat (Radio Edit) - Mr. Saxobeat (Radio Edit) - Single"Mr. Saxobeat", Alexandra Stan (Wild Summer 2012 [CD1])
  • Bad Romance (Skrillex Remix) - Bad Romance (The Remixes) - EP"Bad Romance (Radio)", Lady GaGa (Bad Romance)
  • Jimmy Olsen's Blues - Pocket Full of Kryptonite"Jimmy Olsen's Blues", Spin Doctors (Pocket Full of Kryptonite)

Side Note:  If you're using Cycling Fusion Class Builder app for your iPod Touch be sure to download the upgrade.  They have made cue point selection a ton easier and should cut down on your profile building time.  According to the creator of the app, this revision will save you as much as 25% in time.  I'll be doing a revision to my original review shortly.
Class Builder™ - Cycling Fusion