Spin BikeSpinning® vs Traditional Outdoor Cycling
The flywheel on most Spinning® bikes weighs between 31-43 lbs, which is why the pedals keep turning after your legs stop. The hamstrings will naturally respond to this added circular momentum by contracting at the top of the pedal stroke to decrease momentum, resulting in an "eccentric contraction" or lengthening of the muscles responsible for slowing hip flexion. So, your hamstrings work harder on a Spinning® bike. You'll also find that the added flywheel momentum encourages a higher overall cadence, resulting in an increased strain on the cardiovascular system. This is why your heart rate is typically higher in Spin® class vs. an outdoor training session. As your Spinning® rate increases, you use a higher degree of slow-twitch muscle fibers, burn more fat as fuel and have a higher perceived rate of exertion.

In contrast, the free-wheel drivetrain system on your traditional outdoor bicycle requires a greater degree of hip flexor activity and quadriceps activity to generate momentum at the top of the pedal stroke. Because you don't have that flywheel helping you spin, cadence is typically lower. While this means less oxygen shuttling needs and a lower strain on the cardiovascular system, it also means you're using a higher amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers, burning more carbs as a fuel and depleting muscle glycogen stores, all at a slightly lower rate of exertion. This is described by the highly scientific term "gear-mashing", and is highly contraindicated for time trialists and triathletes.

Spinning® Class Variations
Indoor cycling has diversified since the original Spinning® concept, but most classes are based on one of four formats:

1. Pre-choreographed: Where set moves are repeated to each music track. These classes tend to be more fun and choreography focused with upper body moves sometimes used and other 'creative' non-traditional cycling elements.

2. Rhythm-based: Classes where participants are encouraged to keep to the speed of the music; music may also be used to define choreography. As with pre-choreographed sessions, these tend to include non-cycling moves too.

3. Heart rate based: Where participants are encouraged to alter workload and cadence to remain in the desired heart rate training zone for that session. Tend to be more training focused with more traditional cycling moves.

4. Visualization: Mainly used by instructors to direct participants along an imaginary route, but can be more powerfully used to attain mind-body coherence - what athletes often call 'the zone' for enhanced performance, pleasure and positive mind-body health.

*The terms Spinning®, Spinner®, Spinner® Bike and Spin® Bike are all registered Trademarks of Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.

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