The shock of the first wintery ride of the year sends cyclists scampering off to the gym and into Spinning® classes.
The stationary bikes inside a nice, warm gym look very appealing, and exercising with a group helps cyclists satisfy their urge to socialize. Spin® classes can be a great way to maintain and even improve your fitness in the winter—if you choose the right class.
Spin® classes can hurt cyclists as easily as they can help them. For the majority of cyclists, the training goals in the fall and winter include aerobic development and weight training. People tend to forget what time of year this is and throw open the throttle in spinning classes.
In the winter, cyclists should be trying to target their aerobic development by doing lower-intensity rides. There is little reason to spend time working at intensities above lactate threshold if you are targeting aerobic-system development.
In fact, weight training necessitates a decrease in cycling volume and intensity. Weight training coupled with high-volume, high-intensity cycling leads to excessive fatigue and poor returns for your effort.
Investigate the Spin® classes available to you. Talk to the instructors before you sign up for their classes. What you are looking for is a class that utilizes cadence as a mechanism for raising your heart rate. Spinning at a high cadence with low resistance enables you to work at the upper end of your aerobic spectrum without loading your legs with lactic acid.
You want to avoid classes that include extended periods of time out of the saddle, pushing against high resistance. People load their legs with lactic acid in the first ten minutes of such classes and then suffer for the rest of the time. Yes, they are burning calories, but they are not training themselves to be stronger, more efficient cyclists.
If you normally train as part of a group, approach a fitness center about forming your own cycling-specific class. Such classes are great motivational tools for cyclists who have trouble maintaining their fitness through the winter.