Thursday, December 25, 2014

Spinning with Jen; rest day; Merry Christmas!

Wednesday: Spinning with Jen; the usual tough 90-min class.

For those new to spinning, I'll tell you a bit more about it. Basically, you ride a special stationary bike in the dark/dim light with music (preferably somewhat loud :)!) and an instructor. The room we use at our gym has space enough for probably 30 bikes, though the biggest class tends to be maybe 20-25 people. The spinning bikes are not your ordinary stationary bike. They have special pedals that you can clip in your cycling shoes, or on the flip side straps to snug your regular sneakers. The handlebars allow for multiple positions of your arms, to resemble a tri-bike or road bike. They also come with gears - you can move a lever to increase the resistance level on your bike to simulate hill climbs. In addition, our bikes have a small computer that tells you RPM, power output in watts/kcal burned (alternating on display), heart rate (if you have a compatible monitor; mine isn't so I just put my watch on the bike handlebars), and distance traveled. The key number really is watts (how hard you are working). The instructor has a microphone so she can be heard over the music, which she usually controls through an iPod or iPhone or other mp3 player. One more thing about a spin bike - you have to keep pedaling continuously - you can't coast like on a road bike, and they do not stop immediately like a regular stationary bike.

The thing I like about spinning is that it really pushes you to work much harder than you'd work on the elliptical or stationary bike. It's a great interval workout, and I am trying to stay in good shape while I'm out of racewalking, so it's perfect for that. Burns lots of calories, too :).

Yesterday's workout was typical. We warmed up for about 5 min just riding "flat road" which means lower resistance, and higher rpm - usually 90 to 100, depending on the instructor. Then we did some drills for left leg and right leg - basically using just the one leg to pedal. You can push down on a spin bike but you can also pull up, so you use glutes and hamstrings equally if you are paying attention. The instructors often do drills for that as well, though we didn't yesterday. However, they DO remind you to "push and pull" frequently.

After we warmed up, we did a little more flat road, and then started a 20 minute hill climb, gradually adding more and more resistance until we were struggling mightily to keep our RPM above 60. Some of the climb was in the saddle, and some out of the saddle (i.e. standing). That's another thing you can do on a spin bike that you don't do on an ordinary stationary bike - standing rather than sitting for climbing or just at lower resistance for "running" or "jogging". It simulates standing on a road bike for an extra push, and it's a bit tougher and usually ups your heart rate quite a bit more. After our climb, we recovered briefly and then did five 40sec/20sec intervals of flat road/very fast RPM (110 or more). That will also get your heart rate up in a hurry! After a brief recovery, we repeated the climb, this time with a bit more work out of the saddle for extra challenge (by this point our legs are toast!!!) and then did the 40/20s again. Did I mention that Jen's class is really tough? It was good though. After the last set of 40/20s, we cooled down on a flat road for a while, and then stretched on the bike (arms, upper body) and off the bike (legs).

Garmin data here. 

Today: Merry Christmas! The gym is closed, and so no workout for me today. I might take the dog for a walk in the neighborhood, slowly, and not very far. My toe is still quite painful if I walk too much or stand a long time. Also, we got fresh snow last night! It's beautiful outside, but maybe not conducive to lots of walking.

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