Triathletes - to spin or not to spin?
Some important reasons are listed below:
- Most spin instructors NEVER ride outside and would not know how to design a workout specifically for a triathlete. Even if they did most people would find it really boring.
- Spin classes are typically fast, high intensity, high aerobic effort. When you are just beginning to build your endurance on the bike you should do some training at a lower intensity. People flock to spin classes because they love the fast pace, group environment, specific music each instructor chooses, and they love to sweat.
- You will get ZERO bike handling skills. How will you learn to maneuver your bike if you are never outside on it? You need to get this experience to be safe when riding outside around other cyclists.
- Spin bikes are impossible to set up like a triathlon bike or your own bike. I see people that try and set up their spin bike with handlebars really low and they lean on them like a tri bike. This is NOT necessary in spin class. You have NO aerodynamics and don't need to add the stress on your back by leaning over like that for an hour. I ride outside and I set my spin bike so I am comfortable. I don't even try to simulate my tri bike because I could never do it.
- Some instructors will do really crazy things like trying to get you to work your triceps, abs, or butt on the bike. If you want to work your abs then don't try and do it why you are doing your cardio! It should be done separately.
Triathletes need to be outside on their own bike. It is so important to learn bike handling skills on your own bike. If the weather does not permit you to ride outside then the best option is to get a trainer for your bike. You can find trainers between $150-$2,000. Most beginners will do great with a trainer in the price range of $200-$300. Kinetic is a great brand. The fluid trainer is less noisy then the wind trainer. The comutrainer is a great trainer but is much more expensive. If you are riding indoors on your own bike on your trainer you should look at getting Spinerval DVD's. These provide you with great workouts designed for cyclists and triathletes. You can find them at http://www.spinervals.com/.
Spin classes are great for the some people. They are great for runners or other athletes who want to do cross training on non-running days. They are also great for people looking to lose weight and add variety to their cardio.
I would avoid instructors that do the following:
- Isolation's - holding specific movements for long periods of time with lots of tension. This puts unnecessary stress on joints.
- Pedalling super fast with very little tension. I am not sure how people do this but they do it and seem to like it. It is so bad for your knees and does not really do anything beneficial.
- Trying to isolate any specific muscle group while riding! This is really stupid. As I said before if you want to work abs then do abs, if you want to work triceps then work them with weights. You get the point. Spin class should be a form of cardio not strength training or a core workout.
Spin classes can fun but if you are training for a triathlon skip them and get outside on your bike! Don't forget to get properly fit on your own bike. If you are riding on your own bike and not fit properly then you could be doing more harm to your body then good. The investment of $300 to get fit properly will be well worth it. It will save you a lot of money that you may spend on doctors or physical therapists if you are not properly fit on your bike. If you live in Vegas you can use Gregg at http://www.endurocoach.com/. He is the BEST!