Cycling and Spinning
Got a bike? Get on it! Live near a gym? Get over there! Riding a bike provides a terrific low-impact workout that:
-strengthens your leg muscles
-helps tired legs recover faster
-maintains or increases your fitness level
-provides easy and intense workouts without the pounding
Like water running, cycling is very effective in helping you maintain aerobic fitness. But because cycling on level ground offers little in the way of "resistance," you'll need to adjust your target heart rate upwards. For example, if your running target is 150 beats per minute, up it to 155-160 for cycling. Like water running, cycling allows you to perform a variety of workouts. Take an easy ride and enjoy the scenery. Or mix things up by alternating hard and easy efforts of varying lengths. Have fun with it. And don't forget to stretch after each workout.
To get the most out of your cycling, you'll need to use the proper technique. Don't just push down on the pedals. This only works the thigh muscles. Experienced cyclists push on the downstroke and pull through the bottom of the stroke and upward. Try thinking of pedaling as a circle. Use your thighs to push the pedals down, your hamstrings and calves to pull the pedal back, and your shins to pull the pedal up. Then start the process again. This strengthens the entire leg and protects you against injuries. Cyclists call this smooth technique soupplesse. Be sure to use this term frequently. Other cyclists will be lulled into thinking you're one of them. But you know better, don't you? You're a runner!
Avoid "Grinding"in the Lower Gears.
"Grinding"-trying to pedal fast in the lower gears-is a major no-no, because this hard pedaling doesn't imitate your normal running motion. Grinding can result in unwanted muscle mass in the "quads" and "glutes." Developing cuter buns is not an objective of your cycling activities!
There's a Reason Cyclists Wear Those Weird Outfits.
If you are new to cycling you might wonder why cyclists have a specific dress code. After your first cycling workout in running shorts you will understand the reason. Putting the wrong material between you and the seat will cause chafing. To prevent this, you should wear cycling-specific shorts or tights that do not ride up your thighs and against the seat. The padding in the bike shorts should be a synthetic chamois. Cycling shorts are worn without underwear. The chamois wicks the moisture away and adds padding. The chamois should not have a seam running through the center since that can cause skin irritation. Look for a molded 1-piece chamois or one with 2 curved seams.
Going for a Spin
A new twist on cycling that's popular at many gyms is Spinning. Spinning combines stationary cycling and aerobics and can benefit your running. Generally, Spinning is done in a class or group setting with some buffed-out dude or babe calling the shots. It looks simple. And it is. But as in cycling, technique is very important.
Getting Set Up
Proper positioning on the bike is critical. Set the seat height so that your leg is slightly bent when the pedal is all the way down. Move the seat forward or backward until your knee is directly over the ball of your foot when the pedals are parallel with the ground. Your body should be at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. A hint for guys: To keep your butt from getting sore, keep the nose of the seat up. Gals usually feel more comfortable with the seat pointed slightly down. If you just can't get comfortable, add a gel-padded seat cover to the bike for extra comfort.
The Spin Cycle
During Spinning class your instructor will change the pace and position frequently. This enables you to train different energy systems and to use different muscle groups. When the resistance is increased, slide backwards on the seat to generate more power. When you have less resistance and need to spin faster, slide forward to create more leg speed. As always, focus on pushing the pedals all around the complete 360-degree spin cycle.