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14/04/2011 // INFO Leave a comment

Spinning out – with PT instructor Craig


PT Instructor Craig Bothwell

Hi again readers. Great to be back with you this month to aid your cycling requirements. Thank you for the fantastic response last month, I hope to keep up your support. This article has quite a few coaching tips to build power and endurance so you may want to print it off and take it with you to your gym!

Behold! Has summer REALLY arrived? Like an unwanted relative, sunshine has appeared from no-where to surprise us all with a visit but unlike a meddling Aunt, most of us will be glad to see it finally here! Sadly, anyone who has ever seen more than one British summer knows it’s probably unwise to invest in sleeveless ‘Skins’ just yet and chances are we may need to stay indoors for some of our approaching training.

Not everybody takes their fitness interests outdoors anyway and many of you will have a fancy for the very popular ‘Spinning’ classes boasted by most major gyms across the UK.

Power and Endurance

Spinning, not being for the faint hearted – literally, may be something that you find a challenge or perhaps an extension of your leg workout. Being an intense activity, it requires power and massive endurance.

Most of you guys out there will no doubt have worked the latter into part of your training to some extent. But what about the explosive elements needed? Apart from racing activities or avoiding some of Britain’s more boisterous motorists, many of you may not yet have approached your cycling from a speed perspective.

Whether you wish to train for a race or just for pace, spinning is a great way to boost those secondary muscle fibres, the ‘Fast Twitch’ or ‘Type II Muscle Fibres’.

These fibres require energy differently from our bodies and thusly work you in a different manner, in addition, engaging the heart in a different way, strengthening your cardiovascular system. So the benefits are plenty and from the perspective of trying something new, why not?

What ways can I improve my performance in spinning classes?

The prime elements from spinning are mentioned above – endurance and explosive power. Exercises that will promote this outside of the main workout will need you to perform in a ‘Plyometric’ approach. Meaning that your workout needs to be quick and explosive.


Begin by looking at your main movers, which will be your thighs. Start your workout with 3 supersets of Squats, doing 15 reps (endurance based) followed by 3 sets of ‘Squat Jumps’ of 15 reps. Use a standard barbell with a light weight (try 15kg) and position the bar across the back of your shoulders (like a milk maid). Carefully measure your balance and stand feet shoulder width apart and feet facing straight forward. You should perform the squat by ‘sitting’ down, allowing a bend from the waist, lowering your upper body as a counter-weight.

If you’re not accustomed to this exercise, try a few reps gently and with smaller movements and gradually build your confidence so that your Glutes approach the floor leaving a few inches distance spare. To return to your starting position you should drive through your heels and use your thighs to straighten. Avoid raising your back first and arching through to standing.

Squat Jumps

The Squat Jumps are performed similarly – but without the weight. Following the lowering of your pelvic region, power your legs hard and jump upwards so that you leave the floor. You should aim to keep the rhythm of that jump and follow through to the next squat without hesitation or pause.

Remember, that all exercises are to be approached with a solid core (for core stability exercises, refer to my last post) and bends from the waist should involve a neutral spine and straight back.


‘Burpees’ are a fantastic alternative for this exercise. Often used in other athletic training and sports activities, they promote powerful movements from the legs.

To begin, stand feet shoulder width apart, hands by your side. Squat to the floor with your hands in front, again at shoulder width. Your hands should engage with the floor and begin to take your upper body weight as you elevate your pelvic region, re-straightening your legs slightly.

You will notice that your Glutes are now pointed upwards somewhat. You should now thrust both legs behind you so that you end up in a full press up position. Reverse the movements until you end back in a squatted position and jump up to full height.

The option of raising your hands up can be omitted if you are training in a busy area as some people find that they are not comfortable drawing extra attention to themselves this way. The choice is yours. Try doing 20 of these 4 or 5 times in a workout.

Mountain Climbers

Last month I suggested ‘Mountain Climbers’ for core strength and development, but these also have an additional benefit of engaging similar movements as the Burpees above.

To increase the speed in your Mountain Climbers, use ‘Gliders’ which allow ease of movement and reduce friction. Most gyms will have invested in these items but you may need to ask for them from reception etc. if your gym does not have these items, then you can work this exercise with socks on a wooden floor. Please respect hygiene in a gym environment and make sure that your ‘Terry Towelling’ doesn’t have other users running for the nearest open window.

Upper Body

In addition to the exercises above, you can also refer to my upper body exercises from last month to increase your upper body support. Most Spin classes work on the principle that you leave your saddle when engaged in high speed bursts. This will tax your arms in particular so take some time to assess your upper body strength.

For those of you who can’t make a scheduled Spin class or don’t want to work in a group situation (there’s no shame in wanting your own space), you can opt to train yourself for speed on a ‘Static Bike’ in the Cardio area of your gym.

Static Bike

On the principle that you will be working between a steady pace and an aggressive burst of energy, you should consider your best level setting when you begin your workout. Although this will vary considerable for some of you, try a lower setting, such as a level 4, which will not provide strong resistance when you wish to go faster.

Work your pace casually as if cycling for leisure on a main road or track. Keep this up for two minutes and then rev the speed up to as fast as you can maintain. If unsure of how fast ‘Fast’ is for you, then review your exertion based on how tired you feel.

Imagining that from 1 to 10 you are working your energy output, level 1 will be ‘no effort at all’ and 10 will be ‘everything you have in the tank’. You should find that you will be working at level 9-10 for your burst and then around about level 4-5 for your ‘rest’ period, or ‘moderately difficult’.

Start by working at 30 second pulses at each 2 minute interval and work your way up to a minute over 3-4 weeks. When you get to this stage you can consider modifying your ‘rest’ period down to a minute by 10 second increments or so. Gradually you will spend more time ‘working’ than ‘resting’ and your speed and power performance will improve.

Get in touch

For more information regarding training, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or post a comment below!

Until next month, enjoy your training!


Soho Gyms provide Spinning classes across London at varying times. To check on which class might be right for you go to www.sohogyms.com

See also

Back in the Saddle – with PT Instructor Craig

What’s all this fat-burning about?

from Going Going Bike – Auctions, Bike News, Cycle Stuff

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