Spin 101

Fun fact: I used to instruct spin classes!

To be completely honest with you, it was not my cup of tea but it gave me something to do in the small town that we live in. I was not a fan of being in front of a large group of people and my voice doesn’t project very well. On top of that, I struggled with a few of the business aspects of the job. I did learn how to program an effective spin workout though!

The most common thing I hear people say about spin is, “well I don’t really know how to position the bike or what the instructor is talking about during class.”

Have no fear! This post is all about spinning 101 and how I have learned to tell people to adjust their bike, the various hand positions, and different types of workouts.


The Bike

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There are different brands and such of spin bikes, but for the most part, they are all set up the same. You can adjust the height of the seat, bring the seat backwards or forwards, adjust the handlebars, and there is always a resistance knob.

1. Adjusting the height of the seat. The seat should be hip height. You use the knob that is enclosed in the red circle to adjust the height of the seat. Typically you turn it one way and then pull on it to adjust the height!

2. Bringing the seat forward (or backward). Put the back of your elbow against the pointed part of the seat and make a fist with your hand. Your fist should be up against the handlebars. If it isn’t, then adjust it with the knob that is circled in purple, whether you need to bring the seat forward or backward. 

3. Adjusting the handlebars. Adjusting the handlebars depends on comfort. The biggest things to keep in mind is that you should not be slouching to reach them and your knees should not be hitting them when you are in the standing position. 

4. The resistance knob. The resistance knob is usually front and center as you are sitting on the bike. It can either be a dial or a pedal, but it should have some sort of signage on it that tells you what you need to do to increase/decrease the resistance. 


Handle Positions

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Every instructor learns differently and every instructor should not assume that you automatically know what they are talking about. When I taught, I used positions 1, 2, and 3 to describe where I wanted my participants’ hands to be at. The instructor who taught me did the same as well!

Position 1. In this position, you are seated. Sometimes you don’t need to hang onto the handlebars depending on what you are doing but if you do need to, put your hands on the number two position demonstrated above.

Position 2. This is also known as a standing run position and typically your hands will only be on this position when you are “running”. You are standing, your bodyweight should be shifted over the pedals, and you should be standing straight up (and picking your knees up). You are literally in a running position on your bike!

Position 3. This is the position I use the most during my classes. You are up off of your seat and usually slightly leaning forward because there is more resistance applied in this position than in the second position. This is also where your hands go when you hover over your seat!


Other Terms Used

There are other terms used during class, especially when your instructor wants you to know what to do during the next song. Here are a few terms that I use:

Seated heavy climb. You should remain seated but turn the resistance up so heavy that it is a lot of work for you to keep your legs moving. Do NOT lock out your knees during this.

Resistance: Heavy.

Standing heavy climb. Same thing as above, but you are standing and your hands are on third.

Resistance: Heavy

Standing run. This is what I explained above with position two. Your hands are on that position on the handlebars, bodyweight over the pedals, knees up, standing straight up, and going at a running pace.

Resistance: Moderate

Hovers. Hands on third position, hover your butt over the seat but do not sit on it, and strike down with your heel first to activate your glutes and hamstrings.

Resistance: Heavy

Sprints. These are typically safest to perform in the seated position because of the light resistance. There are many ways to do sprints but I usually use a Tabata style (20 seconds of sprinting, 10 seconds of a recovery pace).

Resistance: Light

Jumps. Going from first to third position in either 4 or 8 beats.

Resistance: Moderate

Standing climb. Third position at a jogging pace.

Resistance: Moderate to moderately heavy


Every instructor’s way of leading a spin class is going to be different, but for the most part, the basics are the same! Don’t be afraid to try something new and look at it as a learning experience. You are not going to know everything right away!

Now that I have gone over the basis of spinning, prepare to see some spin workouts published on some Wednesdays!

Have a lovely day,

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I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer specialized in fitness nutrition and weight loss, an independent distributor and coach with Herbalife, an English student, a wife, and a fur mom to one cat and one dog. I am from the southwest and love dry heat. I am a huge bookworm, a sepsis survivor, and I should be a professional cleaner.

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