Sunday, January 16, 2011


  As I've mentioned, my dad got me a spin bike for Christmas and I've been experimenting with it for the past two weeks.

    My question to you experienced bikers/ tri-ers is: What is the best way to emulate tri bike training on a spin bike?

   Today I kept the resistance low and spun away for 20 minutes.  I don't have a monitor on the bike that tells me my RPM, I did count every so often for 10 second intervals getting 18-20 rotations each time. So 108-120, that is a bit high no?  Is this is an accurate way to measure RPM?  I counted every time my right foot pushed down.  Does this mean I should bring the resistance up?  I was neither out of breath nor were my legs very tired.

    I have done some spins where I've alternated the resistance, spun at a higher resistance and added some standing climbs.  I'm sure this is beneficial as well, but it is not the way you would ride on the road? (question mark because I am not stating it, I'm asking :)

    Also: What should I be concentrating on form wise as I'm spinning?

Edit:  Some awesome commenters have recommended 90 RPMs ( I've read this somewhere as well).  So should I up the resistance to make 90 feel a bit more challenging, concentrate on push more, will pedaling at a higher res make my push stronger?  I'm sorry I'm so clueless :/

More context:  I'm training for a sprint tri  (9.3 mile bike) in August.  I have NO road bike experience and would like to get the feel for it.  I guess the best way to do this would be to get on a road bike, but being there is snow on the roads and my bike purchasing is SLOW-going, this is my best option right now.  I'm also contemplating an earlier "practice" tri.  

  HELP, I need guidance!! :D


Chris K said...

Sorry, I got nothing. I'm just a runner. But, I am now a Follower and have plenty of other advice or snarky comments to dish out :-)

RockStarTri said...

Ok, first some free advice. I think that spinning at 120 rpm is too high and you need to add more resistance. Everyone is different on optimal cadence but I typically shoot for 90-100 rpm as a goal and often fall short of that. But a bigger question is what are you trying to accomplish on the spin bike and how it dovetails into your overall training. Shoot me an email offline and we can go into it there as this is way too verbose of a topic for a comment.

Dash said...

Congrats on the spin bike! It's been years since I hit a spin class. My recollection is that the way it assists your running is preparing it for quicker leg turnover. (and I enjoyed the classes, but have no time these days for it). Good luck, I hope you find an answer! :)

Dax said...

I agree on the 90 RPM, and I would recommend heart rate training while on the spin bike. Try to mix it up with intervals, search "steady state intervals on the bike trainer" to get some ideas.

Also, try a couple of 1 minute wall sits with 20 second rest between intervals. They're tough, but will make you super strong.

trifitmom said...

hey - i actually just took my spin certification class yesterday !!! you are doing the right thing by taking your cadence count to see where you are at for rpm's. i do tri's and i use the spin classes to train BUT in reality i think a bike trainer is a better option to train for tris. with that being said the spin class will get endurance and strenght. if you want i can set up some ride profiles for you - an enducrance one or a strenght one and tell you where your HR and RPMs should be ??? contact me on my blog if you want. i would love to help out

Jonathan Rohr said...

I concur on the cadence... 90s is where you want to be.

Getting real serious training on a spin bike can be difficult, in my opinion, because how hard you work is based on how you feel. There is no metric to compare day to day, in regards to MPH, power, distance. All you can really go by is time and your own personal estimate of how hard you're trying.

But if you're not concerned with the math side of training, who cares. Jump on it and sweat, I guarantee it will make you better at biking.

I spin at the gym if the weather wont allow a real bike ride. What I like to do is have sets of 3 songs on my ipod that build like this:

Easier relaxed song: Warming up, seated, low resistance
Fast techno/pop song: Higher resistance seated
Hard rock/rap song: HIGH resistance hill climb simulation, standing.

Thus, each set is about 9 minutes with the songs, and I just do that for about an hour.


Beth said...

I can't help much with spin bike modifications. I do take spin class once a week as interval training, I try to set up my spin bike as close to my real bike as possible (handle bars same height as seat, and lay a towel on the bars so I can get in aero position). As for how to get a decent workout at home...I am still working on that.

coach dion said...

The best way to decide what RPM to Spin at is to get out on the road bike and see what speed you feel good at, and count your RPM. That will give you a feel of speed, resistance, RPM, and bike lay-out.

Good luck

JohnP said...

Mmmmk without pickin' on the other commenters, I'll just give u a quick opinion from an X-Pro cyclist....

Gym Spin bikes are evil. Some exercise is better than no exercise but anything over 20 minutes and you're setting yourself up for injury. Get your own bike, get it FIT to you, get a stationary trainer to hook it up to. That is the ideal circumstance. There ARE classes that allow u to bring your bike and trainer with you. Again, not to discourage you from at least some kind of workout, something is better than nothing if it means u gotta use the crappy Gym bikes then so be it.

Anyhow, it sounds like you just need a point of reference for cadence. Gym bikes usually have cadence on them, the electronic gym bikes. They should help you get a feel for what RPM is comfortable for you. There is no 'perfect' answer, its up to you. Ideally it is within the 80-100RPM range. Faster is not better and vice versa. Try 85 to start as its a common number. Pro's often spin 100-110 but that takes years of practice to be comfortable on long rides. There is 'some' advantage to 100+ rpm but do not concern yourself with this moot point.

Find your RPM, hold it. No matter what. If the resistance increases from a hill and you cannot maintain your 85 RPM, then CHANGE the gears on bike to make it easier to spin and keep holding 85 rpm. Same goes for a downhill, if resistance decreases, change the gear to maintain a constant cadence.

You can't count RPM in your head or off a clock without significant experience. Get on a bike that has the sensor to start.