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    What's the best method of taking full advantage of spinning classes, called CycleFit at my local YMCA? I've been attending these 45 minute classes 6 times a week.

    Like others, an YMCA staff member leads the group, with loud music pounding away, as the cycling pace and friction on the front wheel is varied. Older than all the other twenty-somethings in the class, I watch my heart rate - of course at 57 max. BPM is 163 and my heart rate target is 106-139. Once warmed up I'm comfortable into the 150's, can push into the mid-160's, and once or twice in every session up to 172 or 173. Like every other spinning class, the intensity and cycling speed varies so that your heart rate has a chance to recover. I seem fine, have no pain, and my BPM declines almost as fast as every one else in the class.

    But I'm not cranking up the friction knob as much as the leader yells out, e.g. "...give it one more full turn ... we're almost up to the top of that steep hill!" I know I don't have to follow suit, but am I overdoing it? Is there some technique I'm missing?

    Mark
    Last edited by TrailRider; 01-23-06 at 09:01 AM.

  2. #2
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    No. There's something they're most likely missing- good instructors and a solid training program.

    Work with your watch and do what you need to do for your own fitness improvements.

    Koffee

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    Mark,

    I get involved in spinning classes too.

    Spinning is quite a bit different than road cycling.

    Given the fact that you get your heart rate up to respectably high levels, I think you are doing fine. The point of spinning is to get a good aerobic workout and you obviously are. Do what works.

    I have found that the effect of a turn on the resistance knob varies. It has no effect if you are starting at near zero. The effect seems to increase as you increase resistance. So, if you are warmed up when the class starts, you will quickly get into overly high resistance levels quickly if you listen to the instructor. Another thing is the I don't think the instructors add as much as they tell you to add. How could they? They have to be able to shout out instructions and chatter which means they can't be out of breath.

    Oh, another thing. I find that spin classes often crank on considerable resistance and they work at very low rpms at times. I tend to ride at lower resistance and higher rpms. I think most road cyclists would tend to ride at lower resistances than most spin class work outs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    No. There's something they're most likely missing- good instructors and a solid training program.

    Work with your watch and do what you need to do for your own fitness improvements.

    Koffee
    Can you expand on that a little? What would a solid training program be? What do I need to do for my own fitness improvements? How do I judge I'm making progress?

    Man these YMCA staff members are super fit - almost all of them woman and some as tough as an army seargent yelling out in a low husky voice "...COME ON!!!!!!!!!!" Then they do "jump ups", various positions over the handle bars and they make you follow various exercise patterns and pedling speeds. They seem to be able to yell at us as they pant heavily. So I try to get a cycle at the back of the room.

    I've got a deadline - I'm headed for 10 days of cycling in tropical heat - on March 23rd. I don't know what's fair to expect of myself. I'm also taking a strength training program....
    Last edited by TrailRider; 01-23-06 at 01:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    I've good a deadline - I'm headed for 10 days of cycling in tropical heat - on March 23rd. I don't know what's fair to expect of myself. I'm also taking a strength training program....
    6 spinning classes a week sounds a bit excessive to me. If you have to do that much exercise, then cut out 3 of them, but get on other machines at the gym to build up a different set of muscles, and give the legs a rest. Also try the weights room for a bit of chest strengthening.

    Tropical heat to me means humid. Many years ago had to do physical work with humidity and I took salt tablets. Frowned on nowadays, but salt works in these conditions. So do the isotonic drinks.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Like others, an YMCA staff member leads the group, with loud music pounding away, as the cycling pace and friction on the front wheel is varied. Older than all the other twenty-somethings in the class, I watch my heart rate - of course at 57 max. BPM is 163 and my heart rate target is 106-139. Once warmed up I'm comfortable into the 150's, can push into the mid-160's, and once or twice in every session up to 172 or 173. Like every other spinning class, the intensity and cycling speed varies so that your heart rate has a chance to recover. I seem fine, have no pain, and my BPM declines almost as fast as every one else in the class.


    Your maximum heart rate can only be determined by a self-test. It sounds like yours may be about 180 or so. I am 59, and my ture maximum rate is somewhat faster than the chart says is normal for someone my age and sex, it's actually about 185. My wife's is even more. You have to be careful, but if you have a heart rate monitor that keeps track of your maximum heart rate, drive yourself as hard as you can, and you can determine what YOUR true rate is. My vision starts to narrow at this point. I mean, I'm totally smoked, can't talk, chest is really pounding, etc. Once you establish your true maximum heart rate, pace yourself per your instructor's directions. Spinning wants you to push yourself into the anarobic zone for brief periods as part of its training. Our instructors will often tell us what % of max we should be at throughout the session. OHB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
    ... drive yourself as hard as you can... My vision starts to narrow at this point. I mean, I'm totally smoked, can't talk, chest is really pounding, etc. Once you establish your true maximum heart rate.... Our instructors will often tell us what % of max we should be at throughout the session. OHB
    You state you're 59 and you say "... My vision starts to narrow..."

    My God man, are you crazy? (You better be a saint with garments!)

    I thought the chance of sudden cardiac arrest increases dramatically much past your computed target rate. Somewhere around 160 I feel I'm overdoing it and at 172 my chest is heaving, heart pounding, I'm winded and my body tells me I'm over-revving, way past my red line! I'm not going to the point where my vision starts to narrow ... that's blood loss to the brain I imagine and in any event would scare me. I'll stick my foot over the line at 172 just to say I've done it, but then dive down to a safer BMP ASAP! I'll have the results of a cardiolite treadmill stress test I did last week where I hit 172 without pain. I can ask my cardiologist what he thinks but I'm sure he's going to play it safe and caution me not to do that. (Wouldn't you? You tell a patient with his wife present that 160 is okay then the man drops dead the next spinning class!) My family doctor told me don't go into the 150s since there's a family history of heart disease.

    I like the idea of the instructor telling the class what % of max we should be at during the session! That's really helpful. I'm going to ask the instructor that tonight! Might just tune them up a little! Thanks!

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    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Everything I've read and been told by fitness trainers and physicians is that the computed maximum heart rate is a very general guideline, and I believe a conservative one at that. That's probably a good thing. Most fellow riders I talk to tell me their max is generally quite a bit higher than the so called calculated max. And as I understand it, actual maximum heart rate can only be determined by a serious 30 second total effort after a good warm up (or perhaps induced by some substance). If you have, or can get your hands on the book Bicycling Medicine by Arnie Baker, M.D., he explains this procedure. He also talks about the benefits of brief spirts into the anarobic zone.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you or anyone else challenge themselves into an area they feel uncomfortable with, especially if they haven't had a consultation with a physician before serious physical activity.

    As to my personal fitness, even though I'm 59, my doctor tells me my general health rivals that of someone in their 20s. I feel as competitive as I did when I was racing when I was in my early 40s. My blood pressure is very low, my resting pulse is in the low 50s, my weight is low, and I simply couldn't feel any better. When I push myself to the point where I start to see the curtains closing, I back off. And I can assure you, I'm certainly not a saint, and I don't wear garmets either. Just an old hammer boy!!!

    Gotta go spin... OHB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
    Spinning wants you to push yourself into the anarobic zone for brief periods as part of its training. Our instructors will often tell us what % of max we should be at throughout the session. OHB
    I'm confused as to the max. BPM of your target heart rate (85% of max) or spinning at your established max. (100%) Anyway, it seems 75% of the time I'm way above my computed target max, pumping away 140 - mid 150s and more, way into my anarobic zone regardless of how that's computed.

    Tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm starting to think it doesn't matter what regimen the class leader takes you in reference to a cardiovascular workout, as long as there's adequate warm up, adequate time for some recovery from periods of intense, high friction or fast spinning. I guess slowing down then speeding up the heart rate is the trick no matter what the pattern is?

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    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Computed max probably means nothing. As I indicated earlier, you will need to determine your "real" max. At about 75% of max, you are working very nicely in an aerobic zone and should be able to sustain in this zone for a long period (like for a century ride). At 85% you are arriving at the edge of your anerobic zone, and lactic acid starts to build faster than your body can eliminate it (lactate threshold). Of course, this is all individual, but based on some pretty consistent results. The only true way to determine your real lactate threshold is by a series of blood tests at various heart rates. But most riders start to reach their lactic threshold at about 85%. Some have a higher lactate threshold as compared to max heart rate, and others, less.

    At any rate, none of this means a thing without determining your true maximum heart rate. If you want to obtain a copy of The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling by Dr. Edmund Burke and Ed Pavelka, page 9 tells you how to obtain your maximum heart rate. As I indicated earlier, it would first be a good idea to confirm your fitness with a physician, because you have to really drive yourself to obtain a real maximum heart rate. Allow me to quote a little from the book: After a good warm-up, "Push, push, push until you're burning like a marshmallow too close to the coals...Just as you slump into a quivering heap, the number you see through the black spots is your max HR."

    Or, come out to Utah and ride in one of our 10% canyons for about 10 miles at an altitude of 9,000 Ft. I prefer that method.

    "Once you have your max HR, training becomes a matter of percentages. These define your heart rate zones...Here are the various zones:

    Zone 1--less than 65% of maximum, to promote recovery and use fat stores as the primary fuel source.

    Zone 2--65-84%, to build aerobic endurance.

    Zone 3--85-94%, to reach lactate threshold (LT), the point at which the greatest aerobic improvement occurs.

    Zone 4--95-100%, to develop the anaerobic system for short bursts of max effort in sprinting or all-out climbing (not something that's essential to train for in endurance cycling, thank goodness)."

    This system is used extensively by Chris Carmichael, Lance's trainer, and it seems to have become the "gold standard."

    I hope this helps clarify some of your training questions. Also, it's a good idea to train every-other-day, and to eat and drink the proper nutrition within an hour of your work-out. I like peanut butter and jelly on toast, and a large bottle of Gatoraide. It turns out that PB&J gives you an ideal, post work-out blend of fat, protein and carbs. The Gatoraide provides hydration and some electrolyte replacement.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes. OHB

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    Thank you OHB! Just last week I got the results of a cardiolite treadmill stress test with a heart perfusion scan - the radiologist reports no coronary artery disease (the test due to some deviance in the slope of my ST wave.) I took my heart rate up to 172 BPM during the treadmill test with no pain. I'm waiting to hear back from the cardiologist as to his recommended max heart rate - both in training and when in the tropics - but I bet he'll play it safe. Wouldn't you if you weren't a sports physician with a 57 year old patient? I'm itching to find out my real max - just see how high I can go! Last night I went to 172 - that I can do. But it scares me a little (and excites me too) to try higher!

    There's another Cyclefit class in an hour. If you don't hear from me, call a saint and find me the garments!

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    You sound like you're doing great. I agree that 6 days a week is too much, though, if you are reaching those heart rates - most interval training (where you repeat pushing hard for a brief time) is suggested for only a few times a week. These training techniques only work if you give your body time to recover. Try doing long easy workouts as well, and some stretching/yoga stuff on recovery days.

    It's a bit ironic to me that they're called "spinning" classes because there isn't all that much spinning going on in a lot of them (or at least the ones that I've gone to) - lots more plain old low-cadence resistance training, which is good too, but not necessarily helping your pedal stroke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzy_cyclist
    You sound like you're doing great. I agree that 6 days a week is too muc...
    Hit 176 last night after 40 minutes of "spinning" - it took me a long while to feel thoroughly warmed up - I know I can go a little higher. I'm going to take a couple of days off from Cycle Fit and do some weight training - there's a "FitLinxx" program at the Y for all-round conitioning. I'll try to pass 180 in a few days. Thanks guys for your interest and support!
    Last edited by TrailRider; 02-01-06 at 07:03 AM.

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    Hit 180 last night and feel I could go higher - but couldn't see my heart monitor readout due to the sweat inside my glasses! Hey, this is fun! Like seeing how fast you can race down that hill...

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    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    180!? Fun!?? Pity. Another BF50Plusser rides round the bend. Shoulda stuck to haiku.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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    You read. I'll ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    Can you expand on that a little? What would a solid training program be? What do I need to do for my own fitness improvements? How do I judge I'm making progress?

    Man these YMCA staff members are super fit - almost all of them woman and some as tough as an army seargent yelling out in a low husky voice "...COME ON!!!!!!!!!!" Then they do "jump ups", various positions over the handle bars and they make you follow various exercise patterns and pedling speeds. They seem to be able to yell at us as they pant heavily. So I try to get a cycle at the back of the room.

    I've got a deadline - I'm headed for 10 days of cycling in tropical heat - on March 23rd. I don't know what's fair to expect of myself. I'm also taking a strength training program....
    First, if they are yelling "come on", and that's their idea of instruction, then that's not a solid training program. That's one of the things I consider a big no-no. The "whoooo!", "c'mon!", and other stupid, useless comments that do absolutely nothing to indicate what they want from participants are just sophomoric and ridiculous.

    Second, being super fit doesn't mean you automatically know how to get people in shape.

    Third, there are no "various positions" over the handlebars. In fact, there are NO positions over the handlebars. If they're encouraging you to stand and lean over the handlebars, be prepared for a big fall- eventually, someone is going to tip their bike over and knock their head against the bike in front of them.

    Fourth, I think a good class talks about cadence and speed, resistance, as well as heart rate. A solid program will also incorporate periodization training into the program so that everyone's on the same page, and there is forward progress for all participants. I'd also venture out to say that good visualizations will enhance a class environment also. There are other dynamics that influence a good spinning class, but that's more based on the individual instructor more than what's required when teaching. But the stuff I mentioned is like a bare minimum to what I would consider a decent spinning class.

    Finally, don't call it spinning if it's not a Johnny G certified spinning program. It's a trademarked, licensed exercise class. The Y has group cycling, but NOT spinning classes.

    6 days a week of spinning may or may not be overload depending on what your fitness level is and how much you did to get to that point with your conditioning. If you're going to a humid, hot climate, you'll have to decrease the intensity of your rides anyway, since you don't want to put yourself in harm's way and end up doing more harm than good to yourself for your trip!

    Good luck.

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Fourth, I think a good class talks about cadence and speed, resistance, as well as heart rate. A solid program will also incorporate periodization training into the program so that everyone's on the same page, and there is forward progress for all participants.

    6 days a week of spinning may or may not be overload...
    Thank you Koffee. I wish I could find locally a spinning class as you describe above. Too bad you couldn't be in my area and be an instructor/mentor.

    My outlook at the YMCA sessions has changed - they really are amateurish, with volunteers, which can be anyone, leading the sessions. More than that, it's open to everyone so participants vary in age, fitness, attendance and intention. It's whoever can manage to sign up for one of the bikes exactly 60 minutes before the session start time. Get put on hold for 2 minutes and you're out of luck!

    Still it's a whole lot better than nothing. It's within 15 km and 12 minutes of home, on the way back from work. I only have till March 23rd, the day of departure, so now it's only a matter of weeks. Also it's never the same volunteer each session so the routines vary which is probably of benefit. Anyway, I've come to rely on my heart rate monitor and do my own ride - I vary the tension on the bike to vary my heart rate repetitively, occasionally pushing myself hard once I'm thoroughly warmed up - takes a half hour to feel I'm "in the zone"(?). As you say, I'll slow down in the tropics. Once there, I can't control the length, distance or speed of the rides. There are only 20 of us and like the CycleFit sessions none of the participants will be the same.

    My outlook at my highly qualified cardiologist has changed too. Too focued on patients with acute coronary artery disease to help me much, other than finding I don't suffer from it inspite of a ST wave abnormality. He tells me to cycle for an hour keeping my BPM in the 130 range. What the hell - I was cruising at 150-155 last summer in line formation to maintain 30 km/h (on a hybrid, not a road bike) and pumping up hills sometimes to 172 BPM. I swear my max heart rate is 180+. I don't think a cardiologist is necessarily the right guy to turn to for specific help in my situation. Maybe I'm asking for trouble, but I don't feel like I'm 57.

    In riding season I cycle every day (65 km round trip to work), and the 10 days in the tropics I'll be cycling every day, so why not do CycleFit every day? It's only 45 minutes. I listen to my body - if I'm "feeling rough", I don't push as hard.

    The point of all this is to be in the best shape possible so I'll have the most choices available. One guy this a.m. mentioned a 2 day ride to a scuba diving site 100 km. each way from our hotel. Hopefully I'll be up to it. Afterall, if I can handle the heat and get in shape, it'll be little more than the ride back and forth to work.

    Thanks again Koffee.
    Last edited by TrailRider; 02-13-06 at 11:21 AM.

  19. #19
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    One thing to consider- if you're going to high altitudes, it may take up to 2 weeks to recover before you're feeling up to par. In that time, you could have headaches, high heart rates etc. It's always advised to take it easy for the first few days when you arrive anyway. So don't push it. When you get there, take your time, eat well, drink plenty of water, and enjoy your time at high altitudes.

    Koffee

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nubie's Avatar
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    Hey Koffee, can you recommend some place with good spinning/group cycling classes in Chicago? I belong to the Lakeshore Athletic Club in Streeterville (across from Holmes Place) and I don't particularly care for the instructors. Thanks!
    Last edited by Nubie; 02-23-06 at 04:04 PM.

  21. #21
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    Yes, Streeterville is not very good. Lakeshore itself is not very good.

    There's a guy at Holmes Place named Patrick who also teaches at the Crunch Club over at the new location on North Avenue (I think it's North and Sheffield or something like that?). I think he's one of the best instructors in Chicago.

    I don't have any other recommendations. The good ones seem to have fled Chicago at one point or another. Maybe Debbie Dust at Multiplex at Union Station? She's a hard core cyclist, and she may have a better handle on her classes than the average instructor.

    Slim pickins out there in Chi town.

    Koffee

  22. #22
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    Correction- Patrick teaches spinning at Holmes Place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. He's one of their most popular instructors, since his spinning classes are so solid. It was one of those classes where you have to show up an hour early just to get a spot, no matter what time of day he taught.

    Eric is not bad, but he doesn't have a lot of personality and doesn't make eye contact a lot, and he doesn't give a lot of instruction. But he's also a cyclist, so you won't see any crazy stuff in that class either.

    If you are looking for a new club, the Holmes Place could be the way to go. Then just upgrade to the membership where you can visit any Crunch, Bally, or Gorilla club anyplace in the USA (it's like 4 bucks more a month) and follow Patrick to his other clubs. That's what a lot of people tended to do.

    Koffee

  23. #23
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailRider
    My outlook at my highly qualified cardiologist has changed too. Too focued on patients with acute coronary artery disease to help me much, other than finding I don't suffer from it inspite of a ST wave abnormality. He tells me to cycle for an hour keeping my BPM in the 130 range. What the hell - I was cruising at 150-155 last summer in line formation to maintain 30 km/h (on a hybrid, not a road bike) and pumping up hills sometimes to 172 BPM. I swear my max heart rate is 180+. I don't think a cardiologist is necessarily the right guy to turn to for specific help in my situation. Maybe I'm asking for trouble, but I don't feel like I'm 57.
    Your best bet is to get with a sports medicine doc. It sometimes surprises me about how little many physicians know about the specific needs of athletes. Of course, not all, but too many. It's a growing field, so you may be able to find a good one fairly easily. Good luck on your upcoming event. OHB

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    let's take a step back here. Koffee is a trained instructor and knows this stuff inside and out. First, you are doing great.
    Second, you might consider heat adaptation, but go easy when you start. Put on a sweatshirt for the spinning class; but bring fluids, and don't push too hard. Third, a few days before before you go stop exercising. Lastly, I'd work out a simple schedule that
    goes something like Easy ride/Hard ride/day off. It's better if you go Hard ride/easy ride/day off but I find I go hard on the easy day. On the easy day slowly increase pace and resistance unilt you hit a point you can maintain for about a half an hour. So you do a few minutes of warmup, a half hour at a steady pace, then a few minutes of cool down. Assuming your Max HR is 180, the range you want on an easy day is prob 115-125 bpm. If Koffee disagrees, go with what she says. Don't try to keep pushing your heart rate up. It will go up slowly, but you don't need, or want, to push it.

  25. #25
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    Do NOT bring a sweatshirt to wear in class. That is NOT how you adjust to heat adaptation. You do that by wearing clothing that breathes well and wicks sweat, as well as monitoring your rate of perceived exertion and drinking plenty of fluids.

    We don't want to overheat.... that could cause all kinds of pain that's not worth encountering.

    Koffee

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