Spinning Classes for Triathlon Training - Beneficial or Not?

By Julia Aimers, Head Coach of Team Triumph Triathlon Club


Not all spin classes are created equal. However, if you choose the right one you can reap some great fitness benefits that are guaranteed to transfer to your early season triathlon bike fitness.


You do not have to own an indoor trainer to keep or improve your bike fitness over the winter months. If you choose the right spinning class you can not only maintain your previous year's fitness but improve upon it. I have been teaching spinning for over 25 years. I use it exclusively for my winter bike fitness. Our classes are designed with the triathlete in mind using watts, gaging perceived exertion and heart rate. Before you sign up for a class here are some things to keep in mind.


  • WHO IS THE LEADER? - Is your instructor a certified spinning instructor or a certified triathlon coach? If all you are looking for is a great workout then a spinning class can do that for you, but if you are looking for a spin class that caters to a triathlete or outdoor cyclist, your best bet is to register for a class that is geared toward cyclists and triathletes and lead by a certified coach.

  • YOU ARE PART OF A GROUP - And we all know that when you’re in a group with motivational music that you will work harder and feed off each other’s high energy! The group works together just like on an outdoor ride. Cycling specific classes are usually planned out through the Winter months so you will peak in time for triathlon season. Being part of a group gets you out of the solitary pain cave and interacting with your tribe.


  • PRE-PLAN YOUR WORKOUT - Before you go to the class, decide what kind of workout you want to achieve. I always encourage participants to modify their workout to meet their personal goals. If they want to do a form workout that focuses on high revolutions-per-minute while staying mostly aerobic, for example, this may mean they stay seated while the rest of the class is standing. Or you may need to keep the resistance low when the instructor tells everyone to crank it up. Don't be afraid of standing out from the crowd in order to conform the session to that day's training. You can declare a Zone 2 day and everyone will understand because they need them too!


  • BIKE FIT - Yes, a spin bike is not like your own bike, but you can get a good fit if you heed this advice. Before you head to class, measure the distance on your bike from the top of the pedal to the top of the saddle when the pedal is in the position putting it furthest away from your seat. This position is not at the bottom of the pedal stroke, but rather slightly forward from that position. Try to get the seat height of your Spin bike as close as possible to that of your own bicycle. If you don't wear the same shoes for spinning class as you do for outdoor cycling, consider the difference your shoes may have on seat height adjustment. If in doubt a certified coach will know how to adjust your fit.


Just For You

In the end, knowledge is power. The more data your instructor can give you to rate your intensity then the more you will know about when to push your watts and RPM’s and when to back off. It is impossible for an instructor to meet the goals of every individual in the class, so it is up to you to get what you need from each class. If you are not sure what type of training you should be doing, then ask the instructor or better yet, hire a coach.


Julia Aimers is the Head Coach and Founder ofTeam Triumph Triathlon Club established in the year 2000, in Ottawa, Canada.  She has coached beginner triathletes to Kona qualifying athletes.Team Triumph is a Multisport and Social club dedicated to challenging your sense of adventure.

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