View Full Version : Spinning bike vs. bike time

03-28-2007, 01:38 PM
I don't know if this makes sense or not but I've been doing a lot of spinning classes. Due to time constraints and weather, I haven't been putting as much miles on my road bike as I'd like.

How well does spinning class (on a spinning bike, of course, not my bike on a trainer) translate into being on the bike? I ride a LOT harder in spinning class but since the spinning bike isn't adjusted exactly like my bike (though I try), am I working different muscles and it isn't as beneficial as being on my own bike?

Right now I'm not factoring in spin class as far as bike training. What are the general feelings on this? I'm doing a century in May and my weekly mileage is about 60 +/- but I usually do 2-3 spin classes on top of that. (That and some running and weight training...)

Thanks :D

03-28-2007, 04:21 PM
I think it translates pretty well. Before I started riding a bike at all, I spent a whole year just doing spin classes several times a week. Then when I started riding, as a total newbie, everything came really easily and my muscles were well conditioned for cycling.

It's also a good way to maintain fitness during the week when you can't find time to ride.

03-28-2007, 04:32 PM
Are you looking for direct numbers? If so, I think that varies by person. I have read that it is about 150% by time. That is, if you are on the trainer (or spinbike) for an hour, that it is about equivalent to a 1 1/2 hour bike ride. Of course, depending upon how hard you ride that number may differ.

Due to really lousy weather up here in the snowbound north, I can state that the 150% adjustment is about right. During the week this winter, our longest time indoors would be about 1 1/2 hours. When we finally got outdoors this spring, a ride of a little over 2 hours was painless. No problems. When we pushed it to 3 hours, we had that "oh, we did a long ride" feeling.

03-28-2007, 08:07 PM
I can tell you that my mother in law was GIVEN a LeMond Revmaster,......yes given to her in January and she in turn gave it to us. DH had a bike and rides, so he doesn't like to ride inside. We brought it home and I spin everyday, listenting to my MP3 spin download class that is an hour. I ride DH's bike on the weekends while he watched our baby.
I have to say the first time I got on the spin bike, I about DIED after 30 min of just sitting and spinning, no lifts, jumps, speed intervals, hills just sitting.
Well, since January I can go outside and ride for at least and hour and a half...and average 17-20 miles, which I know is not alot to some here, but it showed me the spinning REALLY paid off. I spin everday during the week and ride my road bike on the weekends because of the little one right now.
Sorry, to drag on, but I think that spinning is GREAT endurance training, and I know for a fact with my heart monitor I train almost as hard indoors as I do out with the audio conditioning. However,....it's ALOT more fun riding out on the road, instead of watching Sesame Street and trying to do jumps at a certain cadence.:D

03-29-2007, 03:30 AM
I have several friends and colleagues who are competitive cyclists, and according to the people who train them, two hours on a trainer are equivalent to 3 hours on a road bike. So... what Thorn said. :)

Many of them do a good deal of training during the week indoors, and then go outside for long rides on the weekends. When you use a trainer, you have complete control of your workout. You put the "climbs" and the "flats" exactly where you need them, not where they happen to be situated on the road.

Also, I wouldn't worry about being on a different position on the spin bike. It's not *that* different, and a big part of training is simply improving your cardiovascular capacity and your stamina. Also, you can adjust the spin bike to better mimic your normal riding position, if you like, for example, by bringing the handlebars down to the level (or a few cm's below) of the saddle.

My only concern would be that you need to know what it feels like to ride 100 miles, and I'm guessing you don't take any spinning classes that last 5-8 hours, so try to at least get some 80 mile rides in there during April, and if possible, do 100 miles just once -- like one or two weekends before your event.

Good luck, and congratulations on undertaking the challenge. :)


03-29-2007, 07:14 AM
Thanks everyone!

I'm glad to know that the spinning is more than strictly cardio. I thought I noticed a difference on the road but wasn't sure how beneficial it all was.

Cari, yeah, I do know what it's like to ride 100 or even 130 (my record in one day -- about killed me!). I also fully realize that legs are only part of the equation. The old adage "if you can ride 50, you can ride 100" is partially true but it's the saddle and wrists that'll hurt before legs if you aren't used to being on the bike 6-7 hours. Despite the fact I've done it before, I also noticed all my ride shirts appear to say 1999 on them.

I'm trying to do spin classes in bad weather or on days I work then I'm trying to do actual riding on my days off. It also seems like spin class is more difficult than, say, only having an hour on the bike and having it be on a flat surface. With limited time, I'm trying to make the most of my training.

And Jenn, you didn't drag on at all! I love hearing about experience :D

03-29-2007, 10:07 AM
I remember back in the early winter i got a newsletter from Carmichael training systems explaining that an indoor workout is equivalent to one that is 20% longer outside (does that make sense?) an hour inside is 1:12 outside.

03-29-2007, 12:11 PM
The ratio makes sense though it almost seems low. The way I see indoor riding, especially spinning class that can be rough, is that almost 100% of the time is useful for training. When riding outdoors, there are often flat "walking pace" times, at least with me. In an indoor class, the instructor forces pace and resistance and it really is difficult. I guess it'd be the difference between sitting on an exercise bike but being unstructured and having an actual training plan.

Then again, maybe training is training and I'm confusing muscle training with cardio benefits.

Ack, I think I'm confusing myself!

03-29-2007, 12:24 PM
it isn't necessarily EASIER to do a workout on a bike outside then inside (well mentally maybe :rolleyes: ) . you just spend more time pedalling inside than you would outside. outdoors we have hills, wind, bumps and other sources of resistance. you aren't coasting the entire ride, well not usually, anyway.

and in the case of mtb, descending can be just as hard work as on the flats or some climbs, if its technical enough.