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Thread: How to spin...

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    How to spin...

    Okay... I figured out, thanks to a previous post on here of mine (thanks for the responses!) that to lose weight, I don't want to mash on my harder gears at a low cadence, rather I want to up my rpms by raising the cadence and choosing easier gears.. essentially as people have said... do spinning. Only I have to try and keep up a decent speed as I do it, or else, well, the idea seems to lose it's point.

    My question, however is this (after making my first attempt today, well... yesterday at spinning, or rather, cycling at a higher cadence): Is there any way to know when the gear you're in is not going to work out? I know when I get into certain gears, and I start spinning, like.. really spinning- sometimes, I'll seem to almost feel like I'm bouncing in my seat trying to get my legs to go fast enough to gain a little bit of resistance. I know it's got something to do with the gear I am in, maybe... that or how I was pedaling- it's not an issue with my bike because I was fit for it at my LBS, and they did everything, from checking my leg angle, seat height, reach for the bars, the works.. Soooo, I was wondering about it- I don't know that much but I still accomplished my ride in about the same amount of time as if I were in the Big Gear up front and the hardest in the back for most of the ride (however, this time, for the most part I was in the middle front gear and the 6th from hardest in the back.

    I guess I should start shopping for a cheap cyclometer so I can tell how fast I really am going, and aim for keeping pace at that speed...

    All comments- tips are appreciated, thanks!! (my previous post is a little ways down from this: Questions on starting a Biking Plan for Weight Loss) Oh.. and I know this whole thing is a little fragmented and all over the place, sorry, I'm kind of spazzing out and taking a break from a major Revit/Architecture project due for one of my finals on Tuesday...

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    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I've had cycling clubs pass me by saying you are not spinning. Just a quick look gives them a clue.. The benefit is supposedely less effort , more energy output with lower resistance. And greater speed. Is is not a matter of pushing down and pulling up, and letting your shoes float over the pedals. It takes concentration originally to break the habit of exerting most of the pressure pushing down on the pedals..
    The clue I was not a pro at spinning. Their quick look at my pedals told them I don't keep my feet parallel to the ground at all times.
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    oh, and in addition- I know this is an odd thing for a guy to ask but well, would spinning to lose weight, also help me drop mass from my legs, specifically my thighs? I'm one of the weird exceptions to guys in that, my weight gain spreads out not just around my ab region but down my legs a little as well..

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    I am still fairly new to this whole cycling thing too, but here's what I've learned (mostly by reading things on this forum and elsewhere on the web): spinning is not about maintaining a pace for the bike, it's about maintaining a pace for your legs as you pedal. From what I understand, somewhere in the range of 90 strokes per minute is a good baseline (without getting crazy expensive equipment to measure actual power output and stuff like that).

    So, get a cheap cycling computer with a cadence meter, set it up, and try to keep pedaling at a cadence of 85-90. I've been doing this for about a month now and am noticing that it definitely makes a difference. My speed varies with the terrain, but as long as I keep pedaling consistently (which means I need to shift to keep the resistance fairly constant), I can go pretty far pretty fast. I've also noticed that the bouncing phenomenon you describe only starts to happen for me if my cadence gets above ~105, which really only happens if I downshift too early going up a hill. As long as I stay at or very near 90, I stay very calm in the saddle.

    By the way, if you don't mind running wires down your frame, here's a good, cheap wired computer with a speedometer and cadence meter: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EPD6AW"]Amazon.com: SIGMA BC1606L 16-Function Topline Wired Bicycle Speedometer: Sports & Outdoors[/ame]. It's the one I'm using, and it seems to work pretty well. One warning though--on my Giant OCR-A1, the crank arms pass very close to the chainstay, so it took a bit of work to find a place to put the sensor so it was close enough to sense the magnet passing by, but not so close that they touched. I ended up mounting the magnet in the hollow on the back of the crank, and the sensor is kind of angled up on the chainstay. It's not as pretty or clean as the wireless computers, but it's about half the price and doesn't need as many batteries, so I'm happy.

    Hope this helps, and good luck with your cycling!

    -Jason

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    Losing weight in a specific area due to exercising that area DOESN"T WORK. Been proven mulitple times.

    Spinning is just good cycling form. It may or may not help you lose weight more so than mashing. Calories burned are what causes weight loss. Spinning WILL most likely permit you to do longer rides with less fatigue...once you get used to it. The longer rides may burn more calories. You can get and idea how fast you are spinning by counting how many times a foot comes to the front for 10 secs and then multiply by 6 to get your cadence. You should be hitting anywhere from 80-95 on average.

    Cycling is a great way to lose weight. However, adding in some resistance training(weight lifting, body weight exercises, etc) for all parts of the body will help you to add muscle mass which can speed weight loss since muscle mass ups metabolism.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    It's a little like learning to fly a powered aircraft. To make a plane go up, you don't pull back on the stick. Instead you open the throttle. To make a plane go faster, you don't open the throttle. Instead you push forward on the stick.

    Translating into bikese, to go faster you don't pedal faster. Instead you raise your heart rate. To pedal faster, you don't work harder. Instead you gear down.

    What that translates to is that you ride a bike by heart rate. That's the reason so many of us use heart rate monitors. If your HR isn't high enough, switch to a bigger gear at the same cadence. Cadence stays almost constant. We shift to change our HR. So if your HR is too high, you don't pedal slower. Instead you shift down. Does that make sense?

    And yes, depending on your build type, riding hard at a decent cadence can take weight off your legs. Riding a lot is the key. You'll be able to ride more, harder, if you learn to get your cadence up while maintaining a good effort, because you'll have more endurance.

    Cateye Astrale is a good cheap computer with cadence. Polar makes an inexpensive entry level HR monitor, which is all you need.

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    Senior Member Smallguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    And yes, depending on your build type, riding hard at a decent cadence can take weight off your legs.
    not true technically speaking you can not spot reduce.. riding alot should cause a caloric deficiency so there for you will loose weight

    where you loose that weight is more genetics and whether your male or female. obviously in time your legs will be come leaner (provided calories expended is greater than calories consumed) but you may loose wierght off your arms first or chest

    for men it's usually the mid-section that is last to disappear

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    Higher cadence will help you out as a cyclist. It will help you ride longer, which can help you lose weight, but it probably won't burn more calories for a given speed.

    I wrote this a while ago, and it should help you:

    http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx/arch...8-cadence.aspx

    I'm comfortable at 120RPM now, and can top out at about 150RPM on the road...
    Eric

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    If you want to burn more calories and gain more muscle strength you should do some mashing.

    Every week I will do a 20 mile section of a ride in the highest gear that I can do it. And finish the ride the usual way. I've been doing this for a long time now and can actually spin in much higher gears than I thought possible. And faster.

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    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    When you're bouncing on the saddle, you are spinning faster than you are capable of yet. It takes time to get used to it. Just practice maintaining a slightly elevated cadence (60-90) when you are riding on a long, level-ish ride.

    To give you an idea of what different gears do, try this:

    When on a level stretch, in a comfortable gear (slightly higher cadence) try to do a sprint/speed increase three ways:
    1) drop to the next easier gear and accelerate
    2) stay in the same gear and accelerate
    3) go up the next harder gear and accelerate
    You'll notice that in example 1, you will accelerate the fastest. You'll probably notice that example 3 requires standing up to get some speed. 3 Will leave you out of breath quicker, and will wear out your muscles. 1 might leave you a little out of breath, but you'll recover quickly and your muscles won't be taxed.

    It's really not that complicated. When you start bouncing, gear up. When you can't keep your cadence above 60, gear down. Take fewer brakes from pedaling. Your cardiovascular system will improve, and you'll be able to spin for longer.
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    sore legs, then knees

    So I started at a higher cadence... and ran for the whole 17 at a higher cadence, hopefully in the right way but for the next day following, my thighs were far more sore than even when I started on my bike by mashing. Then as night approached my knees started to ache for awhile, bad enough that I needed to pop some ibuprofin. They're feeling a lot better today, like a couple days later, but would the soreness just mean I over did it on my Sunday ride?? I was starting to pull up on the back stroke with the straps around my shoes in addition to pushing down with the opposite leg so I wasn't sure if what I was doing was right... but it seemed to help me carry a high cadence a lot better. I counted for a timed minute and came out to about 85... which I tried hard to carry out the whole ride... anyways, I'm feeling a lot better now, still a tad sore- but tempted to go for an easy ride today or go play tennis with a pal..

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Only pull up on the backstroke during a sprint or a very steep hill where you'd stop if you didn't. You just overdid it a little, which is the reason you're sore. And your technique isn't quite right yet. It will take some time to develop the neuromuscular coordination to pedal a perfect stroke. And you'll be waking up some muscles that haven't seen much use before, so be prepared to be sore. An easy ride today is a good idea. Tennis may not be so great.

    Use your hamstring to pull back at the bottom of the stroke and then to unweight your leg on the upstroke. Don't pull up, just take the weight off the pedal. In the last part of the upstroke, your hip flexor will also be active, raising your thigh. Then push forward at the top of the stroke, sort of like you are trying to kick a dog that is barking at your front wheel. Then don't particularly push down on the down stroke. Just let gravity take your leg down. On the flat, imagine that you have a constant cushion of air between the bottom of your foot and the pedal. When you are pedaling correctly on the flat, the pedals should feel light under your feet, and the stroke effortless. Even at over 20 mph.

    When you are climbing or accelerating you'll have to be a bit more vigorous than the above instructions, but the principle is the same. Smooth, even power, all around the pedal stroke. Gentle power. At first try to just make one perfect smooth pedal stroke. Then try to do two in a row. Etc. After a few weeks, you'll be able to pedal almost perfectly for 100 yards. It's not easy, but mastering pedaling is the whole trick to riding.

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    Shouldn't one try to increase average cadence gradually rather than trying to go from 60 to, say 90 all at once? I can ride around 70 now as opposed to 60ish when I began thinking about cadence a month ago... but I don't see going to 90 right away.

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    You will see better results if you do this for short periods - look at the post that I referenced earlier.
    Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    Shouldn't one try to increase average cadence gradually rather than trying to go from 60 to, say 90 all at once? I can ride around 70 now as opposed to 60ish when I began thinking about cadence a month ago... but I don't see going to 90 right away.
    You need to work at the high end of your range to see good progress. It's whatever you can ride without bouncing for about 1 minute.
    Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Only pull up on the backstroke during a sprint or a very steep hill where you'd stop if you didn't. You just overdid it a little, which is the reason you're sore. And your technique isn't quite right yet. It will take some time to develop the neuromuscular coordination to pedal a perfect stroke. And you'll be waking up some muscles that haven't seen much use before, so be prepared to be sore. An easy ride today is a good idea. Tennis may not be so great.

    Use your hamstring to pull back at the bottom of the stroke and then to unweight your leg on the upstroke. Don't pull up, just take the weight off the pedal. In the last part of the upstroke, your hip flexor will also be active, raising your thigh. Then push forward at the top of the stroke, sort of like you are trying to kick a dog that is barking at your front wheel. Then don't particularly push down on the down stroke. Just let gravity take your leg down. On the flat, imagine that you have a constant cushion of air between the bottom of your foot and the pedal. When you are pedaling correctly on the flat, the pedals should feel light under your feet, and the stroke effortless. Even at over 20 mph.

    When you are climbing or accelerating you'll have to be a bit more vigorous than the above instructions, but the principle is the same. Smooth, even power, all around the pedal stroke. Gentle power. At first try to just make one perfect smooth pedal stroke. Then try to do two in a row. Etc. After a few weeks, you'll be able to pedal almost perfectly for 100 yards. It's not easy, but mastering pedaling is the whole trick to riding.
    Thanks for the informative description, that helps.

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    Senior Member s4one's Avatar
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    When I first started cycling I mashed gears, what it did give me was strong legs, next morning my legs would feel like I did weights with them. After awhile I figured out that spining (cadence) is the key to success. I keep my cadence +95 rpm. I'm not fast but I keep my cadence up and go around 18-20mph.

    I noticed that many bigger/older riders mash gears, they have the body built of an out of shape football player. They certainly are faster than me, while im spining all crazy like im on crack, they mash at around 60-70rpm at high gears.

    Just keep up the cycling, your body will transform into a "cyclist" body (thin but cut), unless you cycle and eat like a football linemen. Remember if all you do is cycle, your body will lose muscle mass, since cardio kills fat and muscle mass as well. I actually hit the gym couple of days a week to keep the muscle around.
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    yea, thanks for the info guys- I have more than enough muscle in my legs, came from growing up working with my dad on his apartments. He messed up his back early on in life, and always emphasized to me to lift with my legs... so I have this totally screwed upper body strength which I've been working on, however... my legs sure could stand to lose both some muscle as well as the er, fat. Edit: Btw, I actually have that slight football player build, shorter (5'8") and stocky build (probably from the Scottish in me), which I am trying to get a little more lean and for sure more cut. I never even played football! I played tennis and baseball..


    Question tho- I've been riding at a higher cadence.. kind of on and off because my bike was running through some bad tire issues- 4 blown tubes, due to bad tires as someone may have caught in my other post(s).. Anyways, my legs seem to be sore on and off, mostly like the muscles on the front part of my thighs seem very tight in general at times. Is that normal if I am not used to the sudden increase in everything? (The cadence is for sure not around 95... but I would say it's over 60, maybe in the 70's... although I know I can do around 85 but if I do the 85 for my typical 17 mile ride... I am beyond sore the next day)

    Another question is.. just sitting here (I haven't rode for well... it's been maybe a week...) I can push down with my knuckles on the top of my legs just behind my knee caps, and it kind of feels... sore- but only pushing.. is that normal or should I see about going back to my LBS when I get back to SD next week to be refitted to my bike? I was fitted when I first got it about 3 or so weeks ago, but I'm not sure if that's the problem or if it's my pedal motion.. I think I might not be keeping a flat foot, parallel to the ground through the full rotations, which as much as I try to focus on doing it, am having a very hard time with..

    Any ideas???
    Last edited by scottydoesntkno; 09-26-08 at 03:04 AM. Reason: wanted to include the football part...

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    Quote Originally Posted by s4one View Post
    When I first started cycling I mashed gears, what it did give me was strong legs, next morning my legs would feel like I did weights with them. After awhile I figured out that spining (cadence) is the key to success. I keep my cadence +95 rpm. I'm not fast but I keep my cadence up and go around 18-20mph.

    I noticed that many bigger/older riders mash gears, they have the body built of an out of shape football player. They certainly are faster than me, while im spining all crazy like im on crack, they mash at around 60-70rpm at high gears.
    I started mashing for the first 2 months as well. It toned my legs to the point where I could start making it over mountainous rides. Lasting through a ride over a mountain pass is a real ego boost. Now that I am into my 3rd month of riding, I am focusing on technique rather than survival. Once I get to the point where I combine the cadence with the strength in my legs I will be well on my way to being able to last better on the long mountain hills. The higher cadence also helps with knee related pains too as I have found.
    Old enough to know better and old enough to forget that I do.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottydoesntkno View Post
    Question tho- I've been riding at a higher cadence.. kind of on and off because my bike was running through some bad tire issues- 4 blown tubes, due to bad tires as someone may have caught in my other post(s).. Anyways, my legs seem to be sore on and off, mostly like the muscles on the front part of my thighs seem very tight in general at times. Is that normal if I am not used to the sudden increase in everything? (The cadence is for sure not around 95... but I would say it's over 60, maybe in the 70's... although I know I can do around 85 but if I do the 85 for my typical 17 mile ride... I am beyond sore the next day)

    Another question is.. just sitting here (I haven't rode for well... it's been maybe a week...) I can push down with my knuckles on the top of my legs just behind my knee caps, and it kind of feels... sore- but only pushing.. is that normal or should I see about going back to my LBS when I get back to SD next week to be refitted to my bike? I was fitted when I first got it about 3 or so weeks ago, but I'm not sure if that's the problem or if it's my pedal motion.. I think I might not be keeping a flat foot, parallel to the ground through the full rotations, which as much as I try to focus on doing it, am having a very hard time with..

    Any ideas???
    Guessing . . . I'd say your bike fit might be fine. Check your saddle height in this fashion: Mount the bike while holding on to a post or bench. Clip in one foot and leave the other unclipped. Put the unclipped heel on the pedal and rotate that crank down until it is parallel to the seat tube. At that point your knee should be locked out with your heel just barely touching the pedal. That's a good point to start from. If your saddle height is close to that, you have it set right.

    With that out of the way, your legs are probably sore from trying to go too fast at too low a cadence. Take a vow to not try to ride as fast as you can for a couple of weeks. Ride slower, so that there is almost no pressure on the pedals, and try to get your cadence up. Try that.

    That said, sore legs are pretty normal for cyclists. BUT you want to be sure that they are rested and comfortable before trying to ride hard again. The soreness comes from microtears in the muscle. So if you go out and punish that torn muscle before it can rebuild itself, you just tear it worse and it actually gets weaker instead of stronger. You don't get stronger when you ride. You get stronger when you rest. Remember that.

    It is possible to rest while riding. This is called a recovery ride, and is done at, say, 12-14 mph and a decent cadence. Doesn't have to be 90, but should be 75+. If your legs feel it at all, you are going too fast.

    In short, my advice is to do more easy (slow or flat) rides.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 09-30-08 at 06:15 PM.

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