As a former national level synchronized swimmer, music lover and self-proclaimed fitness junkie who needs cardio to combat my self-diagnosed ADHD, anxiety and general aversion to being still for like, five minutes, being a spin instructor at Spokehaus Toronto could not be a better outlet.
The highly-stylized spinning and choreography, though very fun, is definitely challenging. Our rigorous teaching schedule requires both bodily maintenance and stretching, and strategic cross-training helps us to perform at our best on the bike.
The following exercises are great training moves for avid spinners, but are also excellent for any cardio junkie who is looking for ways to sculpt the entire body, much like we do by creatively using the bike in our rides.
Most are surprised at how much our workouts utilize the upper body. Of course, spinning targets the glutes and thighs, but we actually incorporate a lot of moves that force the rider to shift the weight to the front of the bike and support/push off with the arms. We even have a designated “arms track” in every workout with handy-dandy weights in specially designed holders in the back of the bike. Yes your arms will feel it.
A lot of our upper body movements involve riding from side to side, pushing off plyo-style from the handlebars and having riders learn to balance themselves with one arm lifted off.
This exercise is great training for all-of-the-above and frickin’ hard! Great for the chest, biceps, lats and core to stabilize.
Instructions: Start in a full plank/push-up position or modified depending on your fitness/strength level. As you start to lower towards the floor move your core just slightly to the right, push-up back to center and repeat on the left.
This is also a good exercise to show you any muscle imbalances you might have!
Go for six to eight on each side for three sets.
These are great for the triceps so you can have that sexy little bullet on the back of your arms.
Instructions: Make a triangle with your hands and then lift your body into a push-up position again. Lower so your chest grazes the floor floor and then push-up. Aim for 15 to 20 times, three sets.
This is a move we often include for high reps to the beat in our weights track. I often train this move in the gym for high weight and low rep to target the same muscle group, but increase muscle strength in lieu of endurance that you’d train in a class.
Instructions: With eight to 10 pound dumbbells in hand (or more if you’re super jacked!) stand tall with feet shoulder width apart and begin to lift your arms up until they reach a 45-degree angle from your head. Then slowly lower so that they hit 45 with your trunk. Count for four slowly as you raise up and down, keep the core straight and engages and don’t forget to breath!
Go for 15 reps times three and let it buuurrnnn.
Bench Plyo Push Offs
This one is actually a full-body move. It targets the core, hamstrings, biceps and triceps.
Instructions: Tuck your feet underneath a weight bench or any gym apartus sturdy enough to support your weight. Slowly fall forward until you reach the floor; push off, keeping your arms tucked into your sides and use your hams and core to help pull all the way back up into an upright position again.
Core Ball Plank Pulses
This is a great one to train the out-of-saddle posture (“homebase”) we take for the bulk of the ride. The weight is balanced through engagement of the entire abdominal wall, the lats, hip flexors and upper arms.
Instructions: Placing both hands firmly on the center of the ball, straighten the legs into a full plank and move the arms forward three inches and back three inches. Ensure your core stays aligned and the shoulders stay engaged and out of your ears.
Do 20 pulses times three sets.
This one efficiently works upper and lower abs in one small but mighty movement, as its name so fittingly alludes.
Instructions: Lying on your back, hold a 5 to 10 lb weight with your arms directly above your head, and your feet shoulder width apart.
Crunch up and lift your feet five to seven inches off the floor. Retract but don’t let either feet or head touch the floor.
Repeat 15 to 20 reps times three sets.
QUICK: DON’T REST BETWEEN SETS AND MOVE RIGHT INTO THIS ONE AS A SUPERSET!
Works the posterior extensor muscles which we need to pull our bodies up into first position, (standing straight) on the bike.
Instructions: Classic extensors: lie on your stomach with your arms extended. Keep the knees straight, lift the chest and feet off the ground for two counts and lower for two. Do it 10 times for three sets et voila — you you’re on your way to achieving those enviable lower-back dimples a la vintage Britney Spears in her “Slave 4 U” video (you know what I’m talking about).
Mountain Climb-To-Needle Point
Great for the lats, core and glutes, and replicates the general pedalling action while including a greater range of motion than we get on the bikes.
Instructions: In a (what else?) plank position, bring one knee into your chest, then press it out into an extended kick back.
15 per side times three. (You’re getting the flow by now…)
Elevated Box Steps With Kick Back
Targets glutes glutes and more glutes. Gotta squeeze the peach to get the juice as they say.
Instructions: On a bench, step up with your right leg and squeeze the back left glute to kick the back leg up before stepping back down. Make sure you do two counts up and two down to keep the movement controlled and not overly reliant on your momentum.
Lateral Lunges With Plyo Push Off
This works the same general glute/quad/hamstring group that we need in peak form for our rides, but includes a sideways range of motion to really activate the glute medius and abductor muscles that don’t get used when we’re pedalling.
Instructions: Holding 10 to 15 pound weights, step out to the right side so that your right quad is parallel to the floor and your left is extended straight to the side. Then push off with your right leg and lift that foot right off the ground and pull the knee into your trunk as you reach your vertical position again.
As I always say in my class; remember to keep your shoulders rolled down and back and keep your chest open.
Twelve to 15 each side times three.
Forward/Back Lunge Split
Works the quads, hams and, you guessed it, glutes.
Instructions: With those handy 10 to 15 pounders in your grasp again, step forward so your right quad is parallel to the ground again, then push off and step aaaall the way back so the left quad becomes active and subsequently parallel to the floor. Push back off with that back right foot and repeat thrice, performing ten reps each side.
And there you have it!
Whether you are one of the religious followers of spinning and want to improve your moves, or just want to tone up before those holiday parties, this workout will have you looking (and feeling) strong and lean.