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Old 03-26-2008, 11:19 AM   #1
Daniel Olmstead
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Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Brief history: about a year ago, my wife and I discovered spinning classes at the local Y. They have a great set of teachers and the community is a lot of fun, so we were quickly hooked and have since been doing it 2-3 hours per week. We've both shed quite a few pounds and toned up nicely, and there is much mutual admiration of our newfound "cute butts".

Now that I'm about 3 weeks into Crossfitting and really enjoying it, I'm trying to wrap my head around how best to incorporate the spinning into the overall setup. I've been told that too much cardio can in fact be detrimental to the increased strength I'm shooting for - its net effect is catabolic. But I don't want to quit the spinning, as it's something my wife and I really enjoy doing together. So the question is: how best to do it?

(Note: a spin class is an hour. Usually, due to scheduling, I will do it immediately following my CF workout. This is difficult.)

My habit in the past has just been to attack it all-out, working every routine as hard as my system will allow. This has me burning between 800-950 calories a session, at an average HR of 88-89% (I'll spend long periods in the 90s). Recently I've been thinking maybe this is going too far - that instead I should try to keep my HR in a more sensible zone (70-80%), and spike it into the 90's on the sprints. This will mean fewer calories burned overall, which will be hard (coming off of months focused on weight loss), but really I'm done losing the fat, now I want to be focusing on strength gains.

Is this wise? Or should I keep attacking it like I've been doing, in what seems to be the typical CF "whatever you do, do it insanely hard" fashion? Or should I be trying to cut back the spinning altogether? Any advice appreciated.

(I do cycle outside in nice weather, too. I also rockclimb. For whatever that's worth.)
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Old 03-26-2008, 11:58 AM   #2
Trent Phillips
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

I wouldn't drop the spinning for reasons of relationship and quality aerobic conditioning (which will benefit your CFT goals too). Dropping intensity in the spin room like you're thinking is solid as is doing the spin classes at times where you have an opportunity to eat/rest recover a bit from your CFT session.
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Old 03-26-2008, 05:22 PM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trent Phillips View Post
I wouldn't drop the spinning for reasons of relationship and quality aerobic conditioning (which will benefit your CFT goals too). Dropping intensity in the spin room like you're thinking is solid as is doing the spin classes at times where you have an opportunity to eat/rest recover a bit from your CFT session.
Not sure how aerobic conditioning is gonna benefit CFT goals... because it doesn't? I hope you meant something else.


If you want to make your spinning more friendly to muscle gain and strength do intervals. It's not the best for strength obviously but you can make do. Ultimately, I would recommend strength work + CF if your goal is to get stronger and more fit. Spinning can be incorporated but it would have to take a backburner.

Although if it's an activity you and you wife both enjoy I wouldn't recommend cutting it back; however, it might also be a good thing if you get her interested in CF as well.
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Old 03-26-2008, 06:19 PM   #4
James Besenyei
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Keep going to spinning with your wife for the time being. Ask her to do some CF workouts with you. Perhaps after a few CF WOD's she'll like it as much as you do. If not, then compromise on the days you spin or the total number of spinning classes you go to. If you continue to do a 3 on 1 off CF schedule and 3 spinning classes per week you risk getting burned out, injury or both--that's just a lot of volume.

In addition, maybe try going to a CF gym together for a WOD? If she sees the efficacy of CF first-hand, and notices other women charging through a WOD, chances are she'll be more likely to accept it as a legitimate fitness routine. I know my wife was more willing to attempt a met-con type interval routine (read: CF) after she saw a girl at the Y rockin' through some intense interval training (now she checks CF to get ideas for her workouts, she hasn't converted just yet!!). Just my 2 cents.

Last edited by James Besenyei : 03-26-2008 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:09 PM   #5
Daniel Olmstead
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Thanks guys.

She's already sold on trying CF, we're just waiting for her broken finger to heal a bit more.

Did a spin class tonight after "Barbara." Tough. Focused on the sprints, though, and took it easier during the periods in between. Felt good, so I think I'll continue on that path and see what happens. I think I'm also going to try and cut back to 2 spin classes a week. Three just feels like too much, especially with the weather getting better and my spending more time doing active stuff outside.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:44 PM   #6
Elliot Fuller
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Or just drop the WOD on the days you decide to spin. Maybe limit to 1 or 2 days, and you'll be following sort of a typical Black Box routine. Maybe WOD-Spin-WOD-Rest or something similar.

Some strength stuff thrown into the mix wouldn't hurt, but probably not a great idea to do it immediately before or after a WOD/Spinning. Best to do that earlier in the day and maybe Spin/WOD in the evenings.

All in all, don't drop the spinning if you enjoy it. That's plenty reason in and of itself. Something probably does need to get scaled or adjusted though ... you just gotta decide which one it's gonna be.

I'm just echoing what's already been said; don't mind me!
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:40 AM   #7
Susie Rosenberg
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

.02 cents

I think it's important to keep doing activities that bring you pleasure. Remember, part of Coach's prescription for fitness is "play varied sports." If spinning is "sport" for you, why stop? Fit Crossfit in.

I cut back on Crossfit workouts during the warm weather, because long-distance cycling is a passion of mine, so last season, I did Crossfit workouts no more than 2 or 3 x/week to accommodate my long rides.

It made a better and stronger cyclist, for sure.

Susie
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:12 AM   #8
Noel Welsh
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

I would try strength work, along the lines of the Max Effort Black Box (MEBB) on the days of the spinning class. This is my reasoning:
  • The MEBB workouts are quite brief, and address a different energy system to spinning. So you shouldn't compromise your spinning too much, and you should have enough time to do your max strength work, recover, and hit the spinning at maybe 80% of what you'd do fully rested.
  • You say you want increased strength. The MEBB will get you there a bit faster than straight CF will, and most people need more strength before they can really attack CF.

You can search the board for more information on MEBB.
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:27 AM   #9
Aaron Moburg-Jones
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Lots of good responses, the some total of which seem to point you in the direction of just letting yourself figure out how best to go. Especially in the beginning, you can see tremendous gains almost no matter what you do. I trained for a marathon running 40-50 miles a week AND doing maybe 4 WODS a week. I shed fat REALLY fast and improved my wod times and gained a bunch of muscle. Obviously, that only lasted a little while and I realized that if I wanted to improve further, particularly on strength stuff, I would need to focus on it a little more and run a bit less. You'll naturally cycle back and forth, so just go where it takes you. If you are exercising five days a week in an intense manner (and spinning can certainly be intense) you'll be fine. Enjoy it and rest easy knowing that what might be stressing you out about making all of your fitness goals is probably at the margins and can be easily changed if you decide to change it.
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Old 03-27-2008, 08:04 AM   #10
Zach Davis
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Re: Spinning/cardio: best practices?

Daniel,

Everyone responds differently to varied volumes of workload. My experience, though, has been that most people can have some success with CrossFit while spinning, cycling, running, etc... if they increase their calories. If you stay at your normal intake and add CrossFit on top of your spinning, you're likely to experience muscle loss, exhaustion, overtraining... even diminished immune function.

CrossFit is strong medicine, so I always reccomend careful monitoring of diet and sleep when increasing workload in this fashion. Because of the enormous amount of variables invloved in this type of situation, your best bet is to locate a qualified CrossFit trainer to work with. Objective observation is critical.

Zach
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