Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Night Spin - The "In or Out" Debate

I have a certain brother-in-law who likes to make fun of my spin classes. I don't take it personally, after all, you are just sitting there. On a bike. Not going anywhere. I can see how this would seem less than appealing. I do try to make it feel like we're doing something, though. The fans are on full-blast,  the music is energetic and loud, and we do jumps, bumps, and aggressive attacks on a hill. We're still not actually moving, but we're not doing nothing, either.

But there are two distinct camps of people: the gym rats and the outdoor types. I feel like I kind of straddle the line, but honestly, I will work out wherever it is convenient, which more often than not tends to be the gym. Go ahead and call me a woose, but I don't like doing tempo runs at 7:30min/mile while pushing a 15-lb. jogging stroller with a 34-lb toddler. I have no problem with the treadmill, but other people would rather stab themselves in the foot than be stuck on a piece of cardio equipment.

Of those two camps, there are certainly subgroups. Among the gym-goers, you have your sweat junkies (here), meatheads, socialites, loungers, and readers. Of the outdoorsy types, you have your purists, elitists, split-obsessed, tech geeks, and yappers.

Whether you're unplugged or wired up, on the bike or on the road, a quiet solo runner or talking your running partner's ears off as he huffs and puffs up a hill and plots your death once you reach the top, all that really matters is that you're actually working.

None of THIS:


And DEFINITELY none of this, especially in my class:

Seriously, I will kick your a$$ out. [source]

Some people need to gauge their effort by the speed at which they pass through the surrounding scenery, but if you are forced to take your workout indoors, here are a few tips:
  • Get a heart rate monitor. Active.com has a good target heart rate calculator that can help you determine what general range you ought to be working in. This is especially important when engaging in a cardiovascular routine for the first time, so that you can learn to gauge your effort by feel as you see how hard your heart works at different intensities. If you are more accustomed to higher intensity, but are unsure how to replace your usual tempo run with a bike workout, a HR monitor can help you make sure you're working just as hard as you would be on the road.
  • Mix it up. If you always run outdoors but weather or injury has forced you indoors, challenge yourself with something totally different. A lot of the time when we focus exclusively on one sport, we let other aspects of fitness go, like building strength (for us runners, especially in the upper body). Lifting will build and maintain muscle which, especially after an injury, is important to prevent further injury, sustain a higher metabolism, maintain bone density and simply help you discover other strengths you might have otherwise ignored.
  • Make your cardiovascular workout part of a circuit. A lot of people can't tolerate being on one piece of machinery for more than a few minutes before dying of boredom. So alternate 3-5 minutes resistance followed by 3-5 minutes of intense (85-90% HRMax) cardio. I like to do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each focusing on two muscle groups at a time followed by a few 1/4-mile repeats (with equal recovery). If you use music, just alternate activities for each song.
Other people simply love the gym and can't stand taking their workouts outdoors without the stimulation of music or television. While it's easier to initiate a fitness routine with multimedia distractions, it's also important to get outside, to train our bodies to work by feel, and not just the monitor on a piece of equipment.
  • Plan ahead. If you live in a location where you might not enjoy moving outdoors, pick a park ahead of time and plan your excursion for a day when you have plenty of time to get there and back without rushing or stress.
  • If you've done most of your cardio on the 'mill, bike, or elliptical, start with easy-to-moderate effort runs, especially if you want to take your workout to the trails. Your muscles will take time to adjust to the change in terrain, so it's a great opportunity to find a running partner and simply take in the scenery to start.
  • Get creative. Most parks have playgrounds, which you already know I use to do resistance when running with my daughter. Circuits can be done just as easily outdoors as in the gym, so pick a distance to run to, stop and find something to do an exercise on, then run to the next stop and do something different. Can't find something to climb on or hang from? Push-ups, planks, squats and lunges are great, too.
We are creatures of routine and habit. Anything that shakes up our predictable schedules can easily throw us for a loop. But with a little thought, you can maintain and improve your fitness just about anywhere. Just remember, even the "best" workouts and modalities out there are useless if you don't actually push yourself.

What different or challenging workout did you try that you thought you'd hate, but wound up enjoying?

And now, how about some music to sit and go nowhere to?

Tuesday Night Spin: Long Road to Nowhere
1. "The Power is On" The Go! Team - Warm up, flat road, alternate lead leg 1x each side.
2. "Magic Carpet Ride" Steppenwolf - Add a gear, start seated in position 1 for one min, take it up to 2 for one min, then out to 3 for third minute w/ an additional gear. Have a seat and repeat the cycle, 30s. each position.
3. "Drive In Drive Out" Dave Matthews Band - Add one more gear to get on your first hill. Climbing moderately, take it out to position 3 and push a little harder each chorus.
4. "Shut Up and Drive" Rihanna - Take a few gears off, back to light resistance (make sure you still feel like you're pushing some to maintain momentum). On the beat for the verse, spin ups @ double time on the chorus.
5. "Right Here, Right Now" Fatboy Slim - Add at least 3 gears back on, taking it up to medium-to-heavy resistance (pedaling in the mud). Find the beat and hold your cadence on a steady climb. Position 1 for the first half, take it up to 3 with one more gear for the second half.
6. "Cupid Shuffle" Cupid - Light resistance, not flat road resistance - keep something under those feet! Choreographed "shuffle", alternating from pos. 1 to 2 to 3, each cycle shorter than the previous: 30s/20s/10s/5s, finishing with changing every 4 beats.
7. "Ride" - The Vines - Flat road "flush out", ride fast with optional spin up on the chorus.
8. "Like a Pill" - Pink - Add 2-3 gears back on for runs in position 3 on the chorus.
9. "Turn the Page" Metallica version - Heavy long climb, starting seated @ medium resistance, adding a gear each chorus 'til we need to stand, then another gear or two in position 3 if we can. Keep the pedal strokes smooth and at 60rpm.
10. "Dog Days Are Over" Florence and the Machine - Take a couple gears off from your highest resistance. Working our way back down the hill in position 3 on the verse, taking a gear off and trying to pick up the pace a little in position 1 for each chorus until we're back to light resistance.
11. "Stop" Matchbox 20 - Light resistance, run it out to the finish.
12. "Somewhere Only We Know" Keane - Flat road cool down.
13. "Traffic in the Sky" Jack Johnson - Stretch.

1 comment:

Runner Maybe said...

I love Spin, I go to spin class regularly and I also have spin bike at home. At home I don't push as hard as in class, but I usually am in the seat longer.