Spin Classes And Indoor Cycling: Get The Maximum Benefit
Have you ever taken a spin class, or do you prefer to do your cycling outdoors? Either way, you're not alone. Popularity of indoor cycling, also known as spin classes, is surging as more and more people recognize its cardiovascular and muscle toning benefits. Let's talk about a few ways to derive maximum benefit from cycling, either indoors or outdoors.
If you're exercising to lose weight, you'll want your workout to be as efficient and optimal as possible. You may have heard the term "fat burning zone" from your instructor or personal trainer. For best results, your body needs to work at an optimal level, meaning not too light or not too difficult. Since everyone's fat burning zone can be dramatically different, you should understand the nuances of target heart rate and fat burning zone.
If you're interested in spinning classes and decide to participate, you'll go through five distinct levels (zones) of intensity during a class. These zones are warm up, endurance, strength, interval, and race. In a typical one hour class, you'll move between the levels, which will help improve your cardiovascular fitness level.
You'll also want to know, and monitor, your target heart rate. The first step is to understand your maximum heart rate, or the highest heart rate you should reach during exercise. It's simple to calculate. Just subtract your age from 220, and that's your maximum heart rate. As an example, I'm 46 years of age so my maximum workout heart rate is 174.
Going back to the five zones, each zone has a heart rate range assigned to it, including upper and lower percentages. We'll explain in a minute. Basically, each of the five zones has a heart rate maximum and minimum, give or take a few percentage points. Each of these heart rate ranges are calculated by taking a percentage of your maximum heart rate (the rate we just calculated by subtracting your age from 220).
The first range is the warm up range, which is also the cool down range. During this range (at the beginning and end of class), your heart rate should be 50% to 65% of maximum. Using my maximum heart rate of 174, that means during warm up or cool down my heart rate should be between 87 and 113. Doing the quick math, 50% of 174 is 87, and 65% of 174 is 113. Yes, it's best to write these numbers down or commit them to memory so you'll know in an instant if you need to work harder or back off on the intensity during class.
Endurance Range: 65% to 75% of maximum heart range (MHR)
Strength Range: 75% to 85% of MHR
Interval Range: 65% to 92% of MHR
Race (also known as Sprint) Range: 80% to 92%
As you can see, the interval and race ranges are generally when you'll be working the hardest. The endurance range is where you'll be most of the time in a spin class, and that's the range where you'll burn the most fat.
Lastly, the easiest way to check your heart rate while exercising is with a heart rate monitor. Barring that, you can place your index and/or middle finger on your neck artery where you can feel your pulse. Most spin instructors will do a six second heart rate check. Multiply your count by 10, and that's your heart rate. Compare your heart rate to the range you're at during the class, and increase or decrease your intensity accordingly. Enjoy your workout!
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