Spinning is a very popular ‘exercise class’ which a lot of people partake with the intentions of fat loss and getting fit.
Which are great intentions, I’m all for people being more active and striving to achieve their fitness related goals. If you take someone from sitting on the couch to spinning on the bike they are going to become ‘fitter’ and will probably lose some weight in the onset.
Charles Poliquin, the greatest strength coach of all time hates spin classes. He states that ‘Spin classes are a complete waste of time. Counter productive at best. If you want fat legs keep spinning’.
He has his scientific reasons….
So why is spinning so useless if I am getting a great workout from it?
Because the high velocities fatigue a particular point in the neuro-muscular junction which is responsible for the rapid firing rate of the motor units, you perceive great fatigue even though little work has been done.
When you think about it, you could reproduce the same type of fatigue in your triceps if I asked you to hold a pair of fly swatters and swat an imaginary 100 flys in 30 seconds. Would you triceps get tired, sure. Would they improve significantly in terms of conditioning. NO. Why? Because the resistance is not high enough to elicit the hormonal response needed to create adaptive response that would bring about positive body composition changes.
In spinning exercise, the body adapts by storing both intra-muscular and subcutaneous fat in the thigh and hip areas to provide a more readily available source of fuel for the aerobic recovery periods. The body figures out, if I store fat there it reduces the time to get to the muscles to provide the energy source. Result: Kobe beef thighs and butt, all plump and marbled with fat inside.
At SOS we believe that the occasional spin class can add variety to your weekly routine. It can also be useful as a session to ‘flush out’ the legs and promote blood flow and recovery.
The huge problem arises when people rely solely on spin classes to attain their goals. I regularly consult with both female and male clients who’s goal is fat loss and they inform me that they are spinning 4 maybe even 6 times a week! Yet they are not seeing the results they desire.
There are another two reasons that I believe are the cause for fat loss slowing down even whilst spending up to 6 hours a week in spin classes.
1) Adaptation – The body will do everything it can to adapt to the stresses of spin classes, this results in your muscles and cardiovascular system becoming efficient at the workload placed on them, great if your an endurance cyclist, not so great if your goal is fat loss. As now your body is accustomed to the demands and essentially requires less fuel to complete the workout. Due to the length of the classes 45-60 mins they are too long in duration to perform hard intervals on a high very high resistance as it would be impossible to maintain the workload, therefore there is no form of progressive overload.
2) Dietary Control – A 45 minute sweat fest in a spin class will increase appetite levels and this often leads people into the belief that they have worked hard and ‘sweat loads’ therefore they deserve that piece of carrot cake!
Which will actually completely negate the effort you have put in during the class. For the record spinning may cause you to ‘sweat buckets’ but that is not the sign of a hard workout. I would sweat a lot if I eat ‘Mars bars’ in a sauna but I certainly wouldn’t be working hard.
If you have become stuck in a rut and found yourself literally ‘spinning your wheels’ and unable to attain the results you desire the best advice I could offer you would be to reduce the spin classes and begin a resistance training programme with a suitable nutrition plan that will deliver faster results than spinning ever will.
If you enjoy group exercise and live local to Cardiff and would like a greater return on your efforts why not try our SOS Bootcamps at SOS Athletic Excellence.