Let’s talk about exercise, specifically spinning.

Every style of exercise has its place in a training program. They each have their benefits, and they each have their drawbacks and both outcomes are largely dependent on how you incorporate them into your program, and how frequently. Depending on what it is you want to achieve, some exercises will help you reach your goals faster than others, while some exercises will take you in the opposite direction of where you want to go – especially if used incorrectly. This is why it’s important to know the physiological effect that different methods of exercise have on you, because believe it or not, not all exercises are created equal!

Not all exercises are created equal!

This week, we’re going to weigh in on the benefits and drawbacks of spinning.

Why spinning?

Because more often than not, the return you get from a spinning class isn’t worth the investment if you aren’t being smart.

For those of you who don’t know what spinning is, it’s essentially indoor cycling. There is a room full of stationary bikes, facing an instructor, who is also on a stationary bike, and who takes you through a gruelling 40 – 60 minutes of a high intensity spinning workout.


Whenever a new workout method comes out that is shown to burn substantially more calories than others, people go CRAZY! But unfortunately the amount of calories burnt during exercise isn’t the be all and end all of fat loss and funnily enough, it isn’t the most important factor either. That however is information for another blog on another day.

So before jumping on the bandwagon of spinning just because it burns calories, there are a few things that you may want to consider, the main one being:

What do you want to achieve from your spinning class?

If it’s fat loss, you may want to rethink spinning. Claims from a world class Strength & Conditioning coach Charles Poliquin are that “In spinning exercise, the body adapts by storing both intra-muscular and subcutaneous fat in the thigh and hip areas to provide a more readily available source of fuel. The body figures out, if I store fat there it reduces the time to get to the muscles to provide the energy source. Result: Kobe beef thighs and butt, all plump and marbled with fat inside.”

kobe beef strip

If it’s for strength or an increase in muscle mass, you may want to again, rethink things. The resistance provided in a spinning session is not high enough to elicit the hormonal response needed to create adaptive responses that would bring about positive strength or body composition changes.

If it’s for cardiovascular health, or for pure enjoyment, then go for it! But before you do, you must take into consideration the amount of spinning sessions that you partake in each week for the following reasons:

  1. The most common site of over-use injuries in cyclists is the knees, so it’s imperative that you don’t over-do it in the frequency department;
  2. The fat loss benefits of HIIT training are well known. However, if HIIT is being performed correctly, it is a workout that can only, and should only, be performed once or twice a week due to it’s taxing nature on the body and the nervous system. If HIIT styled training is being performed more than twice a week, there is a high possibility that the ‘hard’ is not being performed hard enough, and the ‘easy’ is not being performed lightly enough which is often the case in spinning classes. This results in 40 – 60 minutes of a fairly continuous mid-range effort, which doesn’t yield the fat loss benefits of properly executed HIIT training.
  3. If you are in a sedentary job where you sit all day, your choice of exercise should be one that counteracts that, helping you rectify any muscle imbalances and tightness that occur as a result of long term sitting. Not only will performing spinning not help un-do the damages that chronic sitting incurs, but it will actually exasperate the issue.
  4. Not everybody responds to the same exercise stimuli the same way. This means it is important to do an exercise because of the effect it has on YOU, not because of the effect it ‘claims’ to have. If you’re doing spinning to lose fat, and after a month or two of doing so, loosing fat isn’t happening, or if you plateau at any stage in your results, try a different avenue. Make sure you alternate the stimulus and not just add more of the same stimuli, because that’s a recipe for disaster.

If you’re confused by the vast amount of information out there, and the complexity and depth at which that information can go, spare the slow progress and headaches and invest in a coach who can set you on a safe, effective, and efficient path to reach your desired goals. Doing so will take the guess work out of your diet and workouts and you’ll be heading straight to your goals in no time!