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Spinning Your Wheels

Why Your Spin Bike Isn’t Cutting It

Date February 19, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
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Now don’t get us wrong.

Working up a sweat on a stationary bike is far from a bad thing — in fact, you’ll reap a host of benefits from consistent biking (or another kind of steady-state cardio). You’ll likely shed fat, improve your endurance, and likely have better mental health, too.

However, will a routine of solely indoor biking classes be enough to get you stronger or achieve the aesthetic results of exercise many of us crave? Probably not.

On a Pedal-stal

Let’s face it, many if not most of us would likely say that a big reason we workout is to make our bodies look a certain way or improve “problem areas”. We may say things like we want to “lose weight” or “get rid of my love handles” — all this to say, we want to make our bodies look different.

And there’s nothing wrong with that! We all have different goals for what we want our bodies to be.

However, for most people, simply doing hours of indoor biking probably won’t get you there.

You’ll torch calories and you’ll build endurance from spinning, but one key thing that you’re not doing is building strength.

You’ll torch calories and you’ll build endurance from spinning (and any aerobic exercise, really), but one key thing that you’re not doing is building strength.

Sure, upping the resistance on your bike will test your legs, but will you build meaningful muscle mass or power or push your upper body? Likely not.

To have a more well-rounded picture of your fitness, you should incorporate strength training and mobility work, particularly if you are relying on stationary biking and other steady state aerobics as your main mode of exercise.

Incorporating strength training means you’ll…

Strength training is so important to those who rely on indoor bikes that even elite cyclists make sure to incorporate cross-training into their regimens.

“High level cyclists incorporate strength training to improve their cycling watts, times and to prevent some of the common aches and pains (low back, neck, etc.) that come from high-volume cycling.” Dr Joel French, Tempo’s Head of Exercise Science said.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with your stationary bike. However, there is more that you can do to better serve your body.

Pedal to the Metal

If you’re new to strength training, the recommendation here isn’t to go out and start pumping as much iron as possible, but to slowly (and smartly) incorporate it into your fitness routine.

Instead of biking six days a week, swap a bike ride out for a high intensity interval workout or a strength training class, or shorten a ride and add on a session of mobility work. You have options!

“For the typical person, 30 minutes of cycling will burn about the same number of calories and pounds of fat as a good Tempo HIIT workout,” Dr. French explained.

Strength training can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before, so Tempo members have access to several beginner programs and classes to onboard weightlifting newbies with just as much content to challenge experienced lifters.

And while strength training is important for any athlete, it becomes especially important for older athletes who may find that they’re losing or finding it hard to maintain muscle mass.

The Bottom Line

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with your stationary bike. However, there is more that you can do to better serve your body.

If you’re light on equipment, bodyweight exercises are still a great way to get some strength training in — and whether you have equipment or not, Tempo has you covered with a library of muscle-popping bodyweight exercises, and a suite of competition grade equipment to get you (literally) pumped up for your upcoming rides.

Author Patrick Wong
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