How Often Should You Spin? A Guide For Runners
Sometimes all we want to do is run. But it’s important to also include other cross-training workouts into the mix to keep things fresh and to avoid injury. This is why taking a spin class is a great option for runners. But how often should you spin?
Many runners are also cyclists. This makes sense since cycling is great on the joints since it is a low-impact activity, yet still strengthens those legs muscles we use for running. In fact, It’s a natural progression that many half and full marathoners often go to duathlon or triathlon training over time.
A great way to get used to cycling is by taking an indoor cycling class on non-run days. But many might worry that since this is a lower body workout that they should not be taking a spin class too often to prevent overuse or from getting “too bulky” muscles.
Then there are other concerns like what is proper indoor cycling form and do runners really need cycling sneakers for their spin class?
Here is the complete guide for runners looking to start taking a spin class.
To Cycle Or Not To Cycle
In general, instructors recommend taking a spin class three times a week.
Some take it once a week, whereas others are all about indoor cycling daily. This depends on fitness and weight loss goals and other factors like if it’s the main form of exercise.
For runners—and even for those who aren’t—seven classes a week is simply too much. The muscles need time to recover and rebuild even though spinning is easier on the joints and ligaments compared to running. Daily spin classes can just lead to muscle fatigue and be counterproductive.
Spin classes are designed to be more intense of a workout compared to outdoor cycling because of the way classes are structured. These are typically high-intensity classes with short bursts of recovery time per 30-minute to hour class.
It’s all about sprinting to touch calories, climbing hills and cycling to the beat of the music. This is way different than leisurely riding a bike around town.
So how often should you spin, runner?
This depends on if the runner is training for a race. If so, no more than two times a week at maximum is a good amount.
Take the spin class as a form of cross-training, not on days planned for runs. Also, try to have a recovery day in between the run and a spin class.
How often you spin depends on training because these runners need to be able to build up their mileage. Runners who aren’t training for a race can spin as much as they want. Just adjust the number of classes each week with the number of runs so that overuse isn’t an issue.
Things Runners Need To Know: Benefits And What To Expect From A Class
Taking a spin class is a great workout. Expect to sweat a lot, have fun doing so, and really feel the burn in your legs. It also takes time to get used to positions on the bike, proper form and the feel of the seat.
But it’s so worth it.
Runners start with an advantage because you probably have strong leg muscles. But many quickly find that they can strengthen their legs muscles more after taking a spin class.
And this is what exactly an indoor cycling class does: builds strength and endurance. And how quickly and how much depends on how often you spin.
This type of workout is working out the quadriceps and gluteus maximus. But it also requires engaging the core and depending on the class, may also incorporate arm muscle strengthening.
The movement of indoor cycling mimics running, but without the harsher force on the joints and ligaments. This results in a lower risk of injury. It also helps to improve running form and strengthen other muscles that might be weaker from just running alone.
Another big benefit for runners is spin class helps increase leg turnover. Increase running cadence by spinning at least 90 rpm or higher, which most spin classes have you do.
A spin class can result in it 600 calories an hour or more, so it’s also great for weight loss.
And since it is a form of high-intensity cardio, the heart is really getting a workout. So does the lungs, which together mean more oxygen is being delivered to the muscles in increase VO2 max.
What To Know About The First Class
Always arrive early to a spin class, especially on the first day. Because these are popular classes, they tend to fill up early, so claim your bike.
This also allows for enough time to set up the bike. Ask the instructor to show you the ropes. This includes raising the seat to be at hip level, and the bars to be about elbow-to-fingertip distance away.
Some bikes require specific shoes that clip in. This allows you to be more secure on the bike to be able to focus more on form than worrying about falling off the bike.
These studios typically have the option to rent spin shoes, so you don’t need to invest in your own.
Most gyms have the option to clip in or just strap into the bike wearing any sneaker.
Having the right form when indoor cycling is a must. This is to make sure the right muscles are engaged and actually working. For example, you should feel it in your quads but won’t if you re relying on your arms.
It also is to prevent injury. This is why setting up the bike is important. How often you take a spin class will increase the level of familiarity with this.
If knees bang on the bike, you are too close. And if the handlebars are too Hugh you won’t be engaging the core as much.
When spinning, aim to push down with the middle of the foot. Engage the glutes and squeeze the arms.
Make sure to add resistance when standing up in second and third position. And reduce resistance when in the saddle or when sprinting. The instructor usually has the class follow along to the
Terms To Know
In the saddle: means being in the seating position (lean forward with a straight back and hands out to the side or in front when sprinting)
Hand positions on handlebars
- First: Hands are directly in front, close together
- Second: Hands are in front but naturally like as if on a regular bike
- Third: Hands are at the top of the handlebar
Always lift the chest and look forward. This makes sure that you are breathing in enough oxygen.
Keep your back straight, not hunched, even when leaning into second or deep into the third.
It doesn’t matter how often you go to spin class to become a pro: always bring water or a sports drink along.
You will sweat and these rooms do get hot. You need to hydrate.
Also, bring along a towel that should be draped over the handlebars for easy access to wipe away sweat.
Wear moisture-wicking clothes just like with running and cross-training or spin shoes.
It does take a few classes to get used to the seat, but you could buy a seat cushion for extra support—especially if the runners go to a spin class often.