Monday, February 27, 2012

Mountain Pass

Reason #5 why I like indoor cycling...I don't get myself into these crazy spots.  I found this photo on a miscellaneous website and couldn't believe it was real until I found the original source.  Click on the picture to see the rest of the images from this insane ride up the Cliff of Moher in Ireland.  I actually get a little nauseous looking at them.

And now back to my own personal brand of crazy...Spinning style!

Today brings us to an interval profile, but I thought I would stir the pot and see what came out.  So we start with an extended warm up, that might make you think I'm doing another endurance ride.  Yeah, enjoy the flat road while you can because when we hit the 4th song we flip the world upside and take on a bunch of intervals to jack up that heart rate.  But don't worry, we only do that for 3 songs and then we have a 3 song hill.  This hill is going to be amazing because it only includes 3 increases in resistance and lasts just over 12 minutes.  Don't worry, even with only 3 increases you'll get your sweat on.  At the end of our hill, we bring our SexyBack with some jumps.  Brace yourself!

Download this profile as a PDF...Interval 025

Click on the Heart Rate Chart above to download this profile as an Adobe file

Download 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). 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Sprint

Everyone knows that a Sprint is that mad dash to make up some distance or reach the finish line in a race.  We see and hear that term all the time in racing, whether we're talking about a foot, auto, horse or bicycle race.

But wait...

That's not what it means when we're talking about Spinning®and doing a sprint. This is one of those instances where indoor cycling and outdoor "real" cycling diverge (ref. "Virtual Reality Check" Feb. 19, 2012).

First remember that the cadence parameters for all of Spinning® is between 60rpm and 110rpm (with the noted exception for the elite athlete being able to go 120rpm.)
"But I can pedal way faster than 120rpm"
I'm sure you can pedal faster, but should you?  Remember that Spinning has it's roots in outdoor cycling, although it's currently it's own fitness phenomenon.  So can a real cyclist pedal at those fast cadences outdoors?  No, probably not unless he is going down hill with the wind behind him and he's in a low gear.  Why would a cyclist do that?  The answer is:  he wouldn't because it will not get him down the hill in control in a safe manner.

Here's the mechanics of it.  I borrowed this, with permission from C.O.R.E. cycling because I didn't think I could say it any better.
Individuals pedal at high cadences thinking that their body is working harder and burning more calories. However, pedalling too fast or with too little resistance causes the pedals to bottom out because the flywheel, not the individual, is in control. Injuries occur in and around the knees because the quadricep muscles are not engaging. The quadricep muscles contract to assist in keeping the patella (kneecap) tracking correctly. If the legs are moving without enough resistance the quadriceps will not contract to keep the patella tracking properly, leaving it vulnerable to injury. More resistance means more activation, increased muscle strength and endurance, equalling more caloric expenditure and less stress on joints and connective tissue. (ref. T. Mardosas , C.O.R.E Cycling® Feb. 21, 2012)
If you've sat through one of my sessions you've heard me say, "If you're bouncing that means the bike is riding you, not you riding the bike."  That's my little way of reminding you that you should be in control of the Spinner, and you can't with too little resistance and too high of cadence.

Sprints are about POWER! 
Breaking through a big resistance with SOME speed and then maintaining that speed.

So here's the rules of engagement:

  • Top Cadence is 80rpm.  (YES I said 80. Eight-Zero. I didn't make a typo)
  • These should last for no longer than 30 seconds.
  • Each sprint should be followed by a recovery period, at least twice in length as the sprint effort.
  • These should only be performed by participants that have built a cardio base generally longer than 6 weeks of actively participating in Spinning classes.
  • Each participant should understand how to emergency stop the bike.

Starting from a seated flat (light to medium resistance), the participant adds HEAVY resistance.  This resistance is well beyond what they would have for a seated climb and will most certainly slow them down.  Quickly come out of the saddle to hand position 3 - Standing Climb, and with all the explosive power you can muster, break that big gear "resistance" and get the cadence up there to around 80rpm.  Drop to the saddle and back to hand position 2 without changing resistance and try to maintain that cadence for the duration of the sprint.  If the sprint effort is targeted for 30 seconds, but you find that you're going less than 60rpm YOU ARE OVER.  STOP!  Maybe you're sprint effort isn't for the full 30 seconds, who cares you put your best effort into it.
Sprints are performed for up to 30 seconds
between 60 - 80 rpm 

When the sprint is over, lower the resistance to a seated flat, bringing your cadence back to 80rpm and recover.  The exception to this would be a Sprint on a Hill; after the sprint effort you would then come back out to hand position 3 - Standing Climb and continue your climb.  If you're doing the Sprint on a Hill recovery time has to be longer since your effort doesn't stop at the end of the sprint.

Sprint                        Sprint on a Hill

Performing either type of sprint within these guidelines will allow you to exert incredible amounts of power, exerting the stresses that you want to improve your cardio health while minimizing the risks of injury to the knee and leg.

Spin Hard but Spin Right!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fork in the Road: EEZ versus SEZ

We have arrived at the fork in the road.  We can do this the Easy Way or we can do this the Hard Way, but the choice is up to you.  It makes no difference to me whatsoever.

The Easy Way is to keep your heart rate between 75%-80% the entire time and make this a Fat-burning Endurance Energy Zone ride that will leave you sweating but yet feeling like you've got the energy to take on the world afterward.

The Hard Way is to give yourself one extra big crank on the resistance knob and stay between 80% - 85% for what will surely feel like an eternity during which you'll get to experience the pleasure of lactic acid pooling in your quads and calves, screaming at you to lighten the load.  But don't lose heart, that's what Strength rides are all about.
So each individual in your class can choose which way they want to tackle this.  How do they imagine the terrain to be.  This is my preferred method to coach an EEZ ride. After all don't we all say something like, "It's your ride." "You choose how much resistance to add."

Instructors stay away from EEZ rides because they're afraid that the participants won't get a work out, won't like it, won't come back.  But a coach will explain what the benefits of an EEZ ride is, and then allow the participant to chose that path they wish to follow.  This puts it on the participant for a successful outcome to the ride.  If you don't know what the benefits of the EEZ ride are I would strongly encourage you to take the "Spinning Energy Zones" continuing education course from Mad Dogg Athletics.  You need the Star points anyway to keep up your certification.

Download profile Endurance 005
Click on the Heart Rate Chart above to download this profile as an Adobe file

A couple of things about this profile as you look over it.  This is an Endurance ride so it's intended that you stay in the saddle as much as possible, but instead of trying to stay at the same cadence the entire time, feel free to increase the resistance slightly and slow down to provide you some variation.  If you were on a real road you experience grade changes and breezes as well, even in those big flat square states out west.

Encourage your students to stand when necessary to stretch their legs or to give their backsides a break; it's better than having them leave, never to return.

I have listed a secondary set of instruction cue points in brackets [ ] for those that have to do a strength ride instead of endurance.  Some are going to do it anyway, so you might as well coach them as well and don't take it personal.

And remember while your calorie burn will be slightly lower with an endurance ride versus strength ride, your percentage from fat reserves will be much higher, along with the aerobic benefits.  A large portion of our participants are there to get rid of fat anyway, might as well show them how to do it.

Keep it Spinning!

Need the Tunes?  Get them from iTunes here.

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). 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Virtual Reality Check

Depending on what websites and/or social media you might peruse, you may have noticed the recent uproar about a new rash of hybrid indoor cycling programs.  The complaints vary from "that's unsafe" to "not being real enough."  
The beauty of the Spinning® program is in its simplicity;
5 movements and 3 hand positions.
The Unsafe Club
Anyone that has gone through Mad Dogg Athletics Spinning® certification program has heard of Contraindicated Movements, things like don't point your toes, don't use hand position 3 while in the saddle, etc...  These movements along with many others are considered contraindicated because they're considered unsafe and usually have no positive upside, and if there is a positive upside it's not worth the potential risks.

One of my favorite (on the ludicrious side) I've seen recently posted on YouTube was from the Underground Spin Club in Miami and a program they call Spinnercise.  While I have no proof, I believe that the creator of this program either has a spouse that is an orthodontist or they also sell dental insurance at the front door.  I'm thinking this club needs to stay way underground, or maybe come out long enough to attend the WSSC which is hosted right in the same city.  Maybe they'll learn something about safety.

On the surface the program looks fun, but they'd be much better off spending 25 minutes riding the cycle in the proper manner and then spend another doing Zumba where they can still get their groove on, and work on their abs.

Check it out...

And it's not just Spinnercise, these types of programs are popping up everyday, like Soul Cycle, and then there are instructor's that are just inventing stuff like Lila's Cycling.  Year's ago I used to use a term, "Around the World", and the Group X instructor who is a fantastic Spinning® instructor said, "What's that?  You just made that up."  And she was partially right.  The moves were all legit, just the terminology wasn't.  

(For those interested, Around the World is just an interval through all 3 hand positions.  The terminology was just a short-hand for when I wrote out complete words for my profiles before I adopted using the Spinning symbols, and of course before I started using Class Builder™ by Cycling Fusion.  You'll see me still use this combination of movements in my ride profiles, I just don't call it Around the World anymore.)

So what's up with these programs, moves and instructors?  I believe it's a way in which they try to remain popular and essentially reinforce their own self esteem.  There are those fitness fanatics that will try anything because they want to see if they can do it, and some that want to multitask so they can be more efficient, and then are those that just want to ride the wave of what's the newest fad.  All three of these types can have high energy and filling your room as an instructor, makes you feel successful.
Don't think so, tell your class that your going to do nothing by Endurance rides for the next month and see how many people come to your class.  My guess is that you won't be very popular for long, and will quickly change your position.

So here's the rub, I'm sitting there on a Sunday afternoon watching the Superbowl, more interested in the commercials than in the game, and I got to thinking about coaching the game.  The professional coaches don't just come out to practice with the team, pick shirts and skins and play football.  They spend hours devising strategy while they have their players in the fitness facility lifting and strength training.  And when they get together they don't just jump into playing, they run drills, and when they're done with those drills they do more drills.

Even in figure skating, my wife's sport of choice to watch, they don't just get some choreography, pull on their skates, and then practice only that routine.  Before they can do the routine they do hours upon hours of single movements, like maybe only a single axle jump before they combine it with other movements just as diligently practiced.

So why do they do all these things instead of just playing a game for practice, or just doing the single routine?  Because it's all about creating a foundation of basics from which to build upon.

Now let's get back to Spinning!
Spinning® is NOT the game, Spinning® is a conditioning tool for the game of life.  Why do people Spin?  Because it helps them get into, or maintain a certain level of fitness.  There are no Spinning® contests in the Olympics.  No televised Spinning® competitions.  People do it to work out and get a sweat on.
Spinning® is a conditioning tool for the game of life.
Sure, some may do it because it just too dang cold to ride their real bike outside, but the overwhelming majority of participants are not athletes or even outdoor bike riders.  I think it's fantastic when a cyclist comes into my class, and I will try to accommodate them with a profile that can help them, but I know when the weather changes they're going to leave me like a bad blind date; leaving me to wonder why they haven't returned to my class, or invited me to go riding with them.

What we as competent, educated, fitness professionals must do is create an environment which motivates our participants to continually come to our classes so that they can attain their goals, but to do it in a safe manner.  Spinning® in it's self is not about cycling it's about fitness, just like TRX, Zumba, Tae Bo, etc...  Yes, it has its roots in outdoor cycling, and it can help you to be a stronger cyclist, but it is not cycling so if it doesn't perfectly emulate the rules of the road so what.

What's this mean?  No you don't have to spend tedious hours in the saddle doing nothing but pushing the pedal around in circles.  Throw in some Sprints where they don't make sense.  Yeah, do some jumps; sure if you did that on a real bike going up the road someone would think you should be riding the short bus to school, but your in a Spinning studio.  Creativity doesn't mean you have to make up new and unsafe moves, maybe it just means you're developing a ride profile in a world that at the top of a hill exists another hill.

I challenge every Spinning® Instructor to evaluate yourself:
  • Are you providing ride profiles that that are challenging and diverse to appeal to a wide range of fitness participants?  
  • Are people having fun in your class? If  they're not then they'll quit long before attaining any of their goals.
  • Are you stuck in a rut only teaching a single format like only Interval or only Strength?  There are benefits to all the training zone, explore them maybe you'll find something new without having to make up unsafe drills.
  • Do your profiles all appear the same or do they provide variety for your participants?  This goes along with the previous point, but do all your SEZ rides always have the same 3 hills, etc...?
  • Can you appeal to the cyclist and challenge them, while being interesting enough to the person that doesn't even own a bike?  My suggestion here is come up with some really challenging strength rides, cyclists don't like intervals, not because of the heart rate response, but many of the things people integrate into interval rides make no sense to them and border somewhere between confused and insane.  
  • Are you adhering to core principals and movements promoted within the Spinning® guidelines to create a safe and effective exercise program?
Once you strike the balance between the safe, the fun, and virtual reality then you'll find Spinning® to not only be more appealing to your participants, but to yourself because you'll have more variety and challenges as well.

Spinning Freak™

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Week. New Challenges!

I'll admit that I'm not one of those morning people that wakes up refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day.  I'm more the trudger, especially on Monday mornings; yeah I'm moving forward but I would much rather be in bed.  If you don't know what trudging is, it's time for you to rent A Knight's Tale, but I digress.

But the absolute highlight of my Monday's is ending the day on an endorphin rush from my time at the gym Spinning, and sometimes fitting in a little Zumba if time permits.

Today's Interval is a little different for me in that the we keep the resistance loading low enough to stay aerobic for a long portion of the ride.  Yeah I like how pushing high makes me feel, but there's something to be said for keeping something in reserve and tackling the hills like they're something out of Cliffhanger.

Have a fantastic week and write to you soon!

Download this INTERVAL 024 as a Adobe PDF

Click on the Heart Rate Chart above to download this profile as an Adobe file

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).

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Shorter than normal post today because I have a lot to do.  Why do I always do interval rides on busy days?  Maybe I have busy days on interval ride days?  I'll have to think about that.

Okay key here is to take advantage of any recovery after a high cardio move.  We may go straight from Jumps into a Hill climb, but that first segment of the hill should be low enough to allow your cardio level to drop.  Remember the key to interval is to cause your heart rate to oscillate from low to high levels in fairly short periods.

We're also finishing with a standard set of sprints.  Heart rates to spike into the 90 percentile so you have to recover between those efforts.

Sprints are done at <80rpm with heavy resistance.  Come up to hand position 3 to improve your cadence and break the big gear, and then drop to the saddle and try to maintain the effort for as long as possible up to 30 seconds.  Immediately lower the resistance after the effort.

See you in the studio!

Click here to download this profile as a PDF...Interval 023

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

Class Builder file included
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).