Gilroy Today 2012 12 Winter - Page 36

Indoor Cycling: a great workout for winter months By Stephanie Vegh Stephanie Vegh has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Chico State and has worked in the fitness industry for over 12 years. She is the Health & Wellness Director & Fitness Instructor at the Centennial Recreation Center (CRC) in Morgan Hill. She lives in Gilroy with her husband Frank, four-year-old twin daughters, Isabella and Addison, and 23-month-old baby girl, Alexis. Winter is here, it is colder and darker outside and harder to find time to get a good cardio workout without going inside. Being forced to go inside might be frustrating but if you can do an activity that is not only fun but that you know is effective maybe it won’t be so hard. Have you ever been in a cycling class or walked by the stationary bikes at the gym and wondered whether they give you as good (or better) of a workout as riding a bike outdoors? There are a few factors that come into play but on average a person can burn up to 800 calories in a 60 minute indoor cycling class. First, it’s important to understand that the majority of indoor bikes are different than normal road, mountain or triathlon bikes. Most of these bikes have a “fly wheel,” which is a 30 to 40 pound wheel that provides the resistance as you pedal. This is the primary reason the pedals on these bikes keep moving after you stop pedaling. As a result of this fly wheel, your hamstrings (back of your legs) must work harder to slow down the pedals as they come around. In contrast, when you’re outdoors, you’re pedaling against the friction of road and wind resistance, and this motion requires more work from your hip flexors and quadriceps. Because of this fly wheel, it’s very easy to let these bikes “do the work for you,” since once you get that wheel spinning, it’s very easy to keep it moving. This is why lots of people in cycling class can appear to be pedaling very fast when they’re actually not doing much work at all. A study by the American Council On Exercise (ACE) observed that a typical cycling class keeps you at around 75 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate. That’s pretty good. Big motivators might be the heat of an indoor cycling room, the peer pressure of cycling classmates and the motivation of an instructor in your face, but regardless, it’s a good enough heart rate to get a very good cardiovascular response. However, as you’ve just learned, indoor cycling bikes tends to use primarily your hamstring muscles because of that flywheel, which means more help from the bike and fewer overall calories burned. Serious cyclists and professional cyclists can easily get their heart rate as high and higher as those in a cycling class. But most recreational cyclists just have a hard time pedaling that fast while balancing the bike, navigating, and not having the motivation of a crowd and an instructor. Let’s face it — riding a stationary bike is way more convenient. You simply get on the bike or show up to class and go. The most inconvenient part, for many, is getting to the gym. Outdoor cycling can be logistically messy. You need to dress appropriately, bring a tire change (and know how to change a tire), be ready for rough weather, deal with stop lights, stop signs and traffic, and the list goes on. To get the most out of your indoor class and maybe even use your class to become a better outdoor cyclist; Ruben Barajas, Hawaii Ironman finisher recommends these techniques: SEATED CLIMBING: Most outdoor cyclists know that they should pull up on the pedals on the upstroke, which activates your calves and reduces the load on the quads—but they rarely do it for long outdoors. Here’s the technique for indoors: Suck in your lower abs to help push your butt to the back of the seat, then drive the pedals down with your heels lower than the toes. Keep the heels low when you pull up, too; as soon as you lift the heel above the ball of the foot, you turn off the calf muscle. Most outdoor cyclists sit too high on an indoor bike and don’t hinge their torsos forward enough, says Kostman, keeping their heels up and pulling up with their shins and quads, not calves. STANDING CLIMBING: To cultivate the hamstrings, glutes and back muscles as you would outdoors, you must adjust your posture for the lack of angle, says Kostman. On an outdoor climb, the front end of the bike is tipped up. To replicate the position on an indoor bike, hinge at the hips, keep you back straight and parallel to the ground, and push your nose down to within a few inches of your handlebar. STANDING SPEEDWORK: To build explosive power and raise your lactate threshold as well as rapid turnover, stand straight up and “run” on the pedals, says Kostman. The key to is put the entire weight of the body on the quads. The technique: Stand tall, with ears, hips and bottom bracket in a straight line, the upper body stabilized by tensed abs, with no hand pressure on the bars (using only fingertips for balance). Then blast your cadence up to 200 rpms—which blows away the 150 rpm most top cyclists can manage outdoors. SITTING SPEEDWORK: Ideal for building rapid turnover, this technique is easy: Use very little resistance, sit forward on the saddle, suck in abs to stabilize hips and upper body, and go like hell. Again, shoot for 200 rpms. Resources: On the Inside Looking Out: How to Use Indoor Cycling to Become a Better Outdoor Cyclist By Roy M. Wallack Stationary Bikes. Outdoor Bike by Jillita Horton 36 G I L R O Y T O D A Y W I N T E R / H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 2