Spinning for Runners: 4 Reasons It’s The Best Type of Cross Training

A fitness and indoor cycling expert explains the benefits of spinning for runners


If you’re an avid runner, by now you’ve probably been lectured (or have at least heard) about the importance of incorporating cross training activities into your training regimen.

By occasionally engaging in some non-running exercises you can help stave off overuse injuries, avoid complete and utter boredom and even improve your running performance.

You may have already heard that indoor cycling, or “spinning” as it’s often referred to, is one of the best types of cross training for runners. But what exactly does it have to offer?

Below, Amber Hirsch, director of fitness at Local Barre, NASM and AFAA certified personal trainer, and Spin and Schwinn certified spin instructor, explains why every runner needs a little bit of spin in their lives.

Fun and Challenging
: It's a great low-impact way to train your cardiovascular system. Indoor cycling classes are a ton of fun, but really challenging so it helps to break up the monotony for those who only run.

Safe and Convenient
: Cycling outdoors and indoors are both great options but I think it boils down to convenience and safety, so my vote is for indoors. You don't have to worry about outside obstacles, balance or weather. It's so easy to catch a class and put your focus on performance.

Low-Impact Cross Training
: The majority of the muscles that are used for running are the ones that cycling focuses on as well. The big difference is that running is high-impact and cycling is low. It's a great way for runners to cross train to keep the same muscles strong but it’s easier and lighter on the joints.

Build Speed and Endurance
: I love how gentle it is on my joints (especially my knees) but how challenging it can be for my heart! A good ride will incorporate both speed and endurance work so you get both aerobic and anaerobic training. Not to mention, it's a whole lot of fun which is key to a good workout.

Getting Started
:  You should always remember that your instructor is there to give you guidelines on RPMs and Watts but you can always go at your own pace. Also, look for classes that are performance based and do not lift weights on the bike. I find people can be injured with indoor cycling when they are in classes that do choreography not intended to be done when your legs are spinning.

Our classes at Local Barre are designed with all resistance training off the bike as it's so much safer and more effective. Also, remember at first you can always choose to stay in the saddle but it doesn't take long to feel strong enough to work out of the saddle.  Oh, and not to worry... your tush gets used to the seat just after a few classes ;)

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