Consider this your sign to try a spin class!
Spin class has become a mainstay in the fitness world, and it’s easy to see why. The activity offers an excellent workout for all fitness levels, whether you’re an exercise newbie or seasoned gym member. It’s a low-impact, high-intensity aerobic workout done on a stationary spin bike, typically indoors at a studio or using an at-home spin bike and streaming app (like Peloton), and led by an instructor. Spin class has some impressive effects on the body and mind, making it perfect for elevating your wellness game. Not convinced? Ahead, discover the health benefits of spin class and how it can transform your fitness and wellness routine.
The Benefits of Spin Class
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Spin classes are excellent for your heart health and endurance, as they engage the cardiovascular system in many ways, says Francis Fessler, certified personal trainer, conditioning coach, and founder of F2 Wellness. “For one, spin class involves intense cardiovascular activity, causing an increase in heart rate,” Fessler explains. This is crucial for promoting cardiovascular endurance over time, as your heart pumps more blood with each beat, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. In turn, cardiac output (or the amount of blood pumped by the heart in one minute) increases, contributing to improved cardiovascular fitness, he says.
2. Boosts Muscular Strength and Endurance
“Spin class engages major muscle groups in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes,” Fessler says. “The repetitive motion of pedaling against resistance activates these muscles, leading to increased strength and endurance.” What’s more, he says, cycling continuously contracts the leg muscles throughout the entire workout; this sustained effort improves endurance by training the muscles to work efficiently for an extended period.
Contrary to popular belief, resistance training isn’t the only way to tone and target specific muscles for strength. Aerobic exercise—such as indoor cycling—can also help, as it repeatedly engages multiple muscles. Specifically, during a spin class, your legs are constantly moving up and down while your core works to keep you upright. Over time, this will help strengthen and increase the muscle definition in your legs and core, says Kemma Cunningham, cycle instructor at Life Time.
3. Improves Joint Stability for Injury Prevention and Ease of Everyday Movement
As spin class strengthens your leg muscles, it also improves the stability of your joints. After all, one of the main functions of leg muscles is to help joints stay in place and aligned, preventing excess movement. This is key for reducing the risk of injuries, especially in the knees and hips—something that becomes even more important as you age, Fessler says.
For example, as stationary cycling strengthens the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thigh), it improves their ability to stabilize the kneecap and help you walk, climb stairs, and get out of chairs with ease. Cycling also works the hamstrings, or the muscles behind your thigh, “which lift the pedal up with each cycle and stabilize your joints,” Cunningham says. Strong hamstring muscles ensure you can properly jump and extend your hips, keeping you safe during other physical activities.
4. Provides Low-Impact Exercise
If you’re looking for a low-impact way to break a sweat, check out spin class. Traditional high-impact exercises (like running, jumping rope, or high-intensity interval training) involve vertical movements and jumping and can be stressful on the joints—particularly the knees and ankles. But spin class is the opposite. When you use a stationary bike, you won’t be pounding the pavement—the pedals move with your feet, placing far less (or even no) pressure on your back, knees, ankles, and feet. This makes spinning a beneficial choice for individuals with certain joint concerns, according to Fessler.
To top it off, because spin class is typically done while sitting on the bike, it’s a non-weight-bearing type of exercise, meaning the body doesn’t support its full weight against gravity during the activity. “This is especially beneficial for individuals with joint pain or injuries, as it reduces the load on weight-bearing joints like the hips, knees, and ankles,” Fessler notes.
5. Supports Mental Health and Mood Management
Like other types of aerobic exercise, spin class is beneficial for your mental wellness. Heart-pumping physical activity increases endorphins, or “feel good” neurotransmitters, which have an immediate mood-boosting effect. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help neurons, or nerve cells, send signals throughout the body.) And as Cunningham notes: “There’s nothing like feeling successful and sweaty while knowing you did something great for yourself.” But the perks don’t stop there—getting regular exercise such as going to spin class exposes your body to the sensation of stress in a non-threatening environment, ultimately increasing your tolerance to such feelings. In turn, your system can do a better job at handling such pressures, helping manage stress in the long run.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Spin Class
Talk to the instructor.
If it’s your first time attending spin class, don’t hesitate to let the instructor know that you’re new, advises Cunningham. The instructor is there to help you set you up for success, she says, and their extra guidance will go a long way in your workout.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
To get the most out of spin class (or any workout), drink plenty of water before, during, and after to replenish the fluids from sweating. Not only will staying hydrated improve your performance, but it will support recovery too. While you’re at it, consider incorporating “electrolytes during your workout to help provide more energy and alleviate soreness [after class],” says Cunningham.
Practice proper form.
In addition to providing an efficient workout, learning how to position your body on a spin bike is critical for preventing joint and muscle strain, Fessler says. Start by adjusting the seat height, which should be at the top of your hips, says Cunningham. Once seated, your chest should be lifted so that your spine is properly aligned. While cycling, keep your core engaged and elbows slightly bent. “Your knee should be over the ball of your foot with the pedal at 3 o’clock, and your other knee slightly bent with the pedal at 6 o’clock,” adds Cunningham. If you’re having trouble finding the correct position, touch base with your instructor.
Adjust the resistance slowly.
“Adjusting resistance on a spin bike is a crucial aspect of optimizing your workout and tailoring it to your fitness level,” Fessler says. However, it’s even more important to do this mindfully to prevent injury. “Start with a resistance level that feels comfortable, especially if you’re new to spin class or cycling,” says Fessler. “As you progress through the class, gradually increase the resistance to make the workout more challenging. Doing this incrementally allows your muscles to adapt to the increased load.”
Additionally, pay attention to how your body feels as you pedal, says Fessler. If you’re “bouncing or [experiencing] lack of control with your pedal speed, it’s time to increase the resistance or tension on the bike,” Cunningham adds. Similarly, if your form is suffering from excess resistance, dial it back, Fessler says.
Set a goal or intention for each spin class.
Before heading to spin class, take a moment to define what you want to achieve to begin with, suggests Fessler. “Having clear objectives will give you a sense of purpose during your workouts,” he adds. For example, maybe you want to improve endurance or increase resistance levels over time. Or perhaps you’ve got your eye on hitting certain distance or time milestones. Or maybe your goal is to simply get on the bike and see how much you can do. In either case, try to start with small, realistic goals, especially if you’re new to spin, advises Fessler; you can always adjust or build your goals as you continue to explore the activity.
Spin class is a low-impact workout that deserves a place in your routine, regardless of your fitness level or experience. The activity is excellent for improving cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, joint stability, and mental wellness, just to name a few significant spin class health benefits. If you’re ready to give spin class a spin, check out your local gym or spin studio to schedule a class today. Find a beginner spin class, book your bike, and get ready to sweat in a fun and supportive environment.
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