Non-rhetorical question: Why do you work out? Why do you pay money to be uncomfortable, sweaty, and even late to work? For results, right?
Typically fitness-based results include one or more of the following:
• Increase in lean muscle mass
• Decrease in body fat stores
• Improved movement patterns and posture
Take a long, hard look in the mirror, followed by a long, hard look at your fitness regimen: Is your weekly routine achieving any of the above results? If you spend five days a week sitting at a desk and five nights a week on a spin bike, I’m willing to guess your answer: “No [+/- an expletive].”
Feel a little slapped in the face? Get ready to get kicked in the saddle. Spinning, while a viable cardio supplement to strength training if utilized in moderation, can work against the above fitness goals if it’s your sole source of exercise. Here’s why:
1. Increase in lean muscle mass. Any (competent) fitness professional will tell you that cardio of any kind does not build muscle, and it never will. This basic, indisputable fact, applies to more than just spin class (e.g., most group fitness studios without weights), of course.
2. Decrease in body fat stores. Body fat loss occurs when your body is challenged to the extent it needs to adapt. Since adaptation intrinsically needs to be continuous, settling into a consistent steady-state cardio routine will not only contribute to a plateau in weight loss, it can cause weight gain.
3. Improved movement patterns and posture. No one ever got a great butt by sitting on it. We spend nearly all of our waking hours on our iPhones, at a computer, behind the wheel, or generally reaching in front of our bodies for various reasons. These repetitive actions and positions constitute and reinforce damaging (so much so they’re referred to as “syndromes”) muscle imbalances in both our lower (e.g., tight quads and anterior hips) and upper (e.g., tight pecs, delts) bodies. When the front of your body is tight, you can bet the corresponding muscle groups in the back of your body (e.g., lats, glutes, hamstrings) are weak — both functionally and, as you may or may not have noticed in the mirror, aesthetically. And you can forget about core activation: when’s the last time you admired your own six-pack (current or potential) while sitting down? Further feeding into this set of imbalances for the one hour during which you have the opportunity to reverse it is ludicrous.
As a fitness professional, I hope that you don’t throw your spin shoes away, but that you instead devise a balanced (and that’s a pun, by the way) fitness routine for next week.
And if you’re mad, great! Go lift some weights about it.