Spin Class Obsessed: Why Runners Need To Ride
I have a workout obsession and it isn’t running.
Rather I should say it’s an activity besides running. Spin class has become my latest addiction and I just can’t get enough of it. The feel-good high (thanks to the release of stress and boost of endorphins) that I leave with has me coming back for more—even when I sometimes dread the upcoming sprint section or an uphill climb.
I have dabbled in indoor cycling classes for some time but tended to shy away from incorporating them religiously. I thought that on cross training days I should focus on other muscle groups and give my running legs a break. An overuse injury to sideline my running would be devastating.
But I learned that I was actually really wrong about this notion. In fact, every runner should try a spin class and ride regularly.
From The Ground To The Bike
After consistently going once I week to a cycle for about two months that came with my new gym membership, I stopped. My running mileage increased with training and the last thing I wanted to do was work out my legs on “off” days. I’m sure many runners can relate to this–feeling sore after a long run or not wanted to overdo it on a bike before the long run.
It wasn’t until recently where I began taking my spin classes seriously. I have found a newfound passion for it, much because it reminds me of running.
It takes a lot of effort and pushes me to my limits and then beyond. When the instructor says things like “push with all you have for 30 more seconds” I think about sprinting it out on the treadmill and knowing the same feeling. I can and do push and feel great after. I used to worry about tired legs, now I embrace the slight fatigue knowing I am building endurance and making stronger leg muscles that can help with running power.
Some days I really don’t want to wake up early and head to that studio, much like running, but I never regret a workout. I leave feeling amazing, a high only a runner can recognize.
The Benefits Of Spin Classes For Runners
Part of the reason why I got into spin classes is that it added something new to my routine workouts. That combined for my love for cardio classes and finding a great spin instructor who knows how to motivate, teaches well and plays great music has helped me learn to love the indoor bike.
But there are also many benefits besides preventing boredom specifically for runners.
Spinning is a low impact exercise, in the same way, activities like swimming and rowing are.
“Cross training like spinning can be beneficial for runners as it supports cardio capacity while using the body differently which can help in preventing injury and overuse,” Mélanie Rebane, popular Canadian spin instructor and cycling master educator told RunnerClick.
Indoor spinning and even outdoor cycling is a good workout. It gets the heart rate up, burns a lot of calories and is a great cardio workout without having the joints taking a brunt of the impact. It actually improves the mobility of the joints. Without all that stress on the joints, runners reduce the risk of injury.
Cycling also increases muscle strength and flexibility, and these are also important when it comes to warding off an injury.
“One of the best ways to prevent injury is to include functional fitness and flexibility work like yoga. This will ensure you stay injury free and strong,” the Schwinn certified trainer in both Classic ride and MPower said.
Spinning Makes You A Faster Runner
Runners know the term cadence, which is the number of strides per minute. Cadence for cyclists refers to pedal speed. Pedal stroke revolutions are determined by the RPM number displayed on the bike. Typically during an instructor-led spin class, runners are instructed to pedal faster to increase their RPMs. This usually anywhere from 90 RPM and higher.
As a result, runners may notice an increase in foot turnover. The means being faster on our feet.
Rebane also recommends HIIT or circuit training to further increase strength. Not only does this also aid in injury prevention, but it also makes the runner become stronger. This can translate to faster speeds as well as higher endurance.
Increased endurance is one of the main key benefits spin class has for runners. While picking up the pace for higher RPM, instructors tell participants to increase the resistance. This means the legs and cardiovascular system are working harder to make pedal. Participants can really feel it in their quads and glutes at moments like this.
This comes in handy when running uphill. Take a few spin classes regularly and notice less heavy breathing or being out of breath by the time it takes to make it to the top. Expect to be able to run longer thanks to the boost in endurance.
Cycling improves posture, which can carry over to running form. As a result, we can run more efficiently. This means running faster and for longer before tiring out.
Spicing It Up
Taking a spin class is a great way a runner can prevent boredom from their typically fitness routines. Training can become monotonous. Picking up cycling can spice things up and put some variety into workouts.
“Spinning is a great way to change up your routine and maintain your cardio fitness,“ said Rebane.
Plus it prevents that dreaded plateau many runners face. This because doing the same thing, like running the same 3-mile route, same hilly terrain or same distance over time stop the runner from growing performance wise. Spinning uses the legs and other muscles, strengthening them and working them in a different way than running.
Why Working Out The Legs More Isn’t Bad
Which brings us to the next point. No, spinning won’t overwork runner’s legs.
Spin classes are great for runners because it works out quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Runners should remember to engage their core, which is needed when going from being seated to the third position.
“Spinning uses different mechanics and different muscle groups. This is why it makes a great compliment to your running/cardio program,” Rebane said.
In comparison, running works out the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but also the hip flexors, calf muscles, core, lower back, biceps, and triceps.
Opposed to going for a run back-to-back days, a spin class instead still works the legs but in a low-impact and different way. This is better recommended then putting too much of the same stress on the body two days in a row. For those who need to work out, taking up a spin class along with running is a great solution.
What this runner has noticed is more defined quad muscles, increase endurance and an overall boost in mood thanks to taking up spinning.
Rebane said taking a spin class is “complementary” to running. She means the activity works complementary muscles, building strength not wearing them out.
On days when we just want to rest, taking a spin class or going for a bike ride is an ideal way to allow our muscles to recover. Sitting on the couch only stiffens us up. But working out again lightly, known as active recovery, is needed to for serious runners. Just keep in mind the more intense classes might not be the best idea for the day after the long run. Save those for cross training days and take a more relaxed spin session for active recovery.
Our expert spin instructor recommends cross-training as well with a strength regime to increase strength, endurance and running times for at least two times per week for 20 minutes.