Ok after I read the headline that Tracy Anderson (a respected trainer to the stars in case you weren’t sure) claims spinning will not necessarily lead to weight loss and might even bulk up your thighs I had to research and weigh in.
I love to spin! I teach/take 3 spin classes a week, and after 2 years of spinning 2-3 times a week I can honestly tell you that I am wearing the same clothes now that I did when I began spinning.
So before you shun this great calorie burning exercise, here are some facts about spinning and muscle gain:
1. How easily and where a person can gain muscle depends on their genetic type – Ectomorphs are long and lean and don’t put on muscle easily. Endomorphs (more prone to weight gain and larger build) and Mesomorphs (medium to large build with defined muscle tone) are naturally stronger and muscular and will add muscle easier. If you are one of the latter it doesn’t mean you will get bulky – especially if you are a woman. Remember that muscle is more dense than fat and 1 lb of muscle burns 50 calories a day!
3. Set up your bike properly to engage all the leg muscles and your core. In order to tone the core, glutes, hamstrings and quads more evenly, you must pay attention to the degree of bend in your knee when you set your seat height. When you sit on the bike, allow for a slight bend in the knee (never locked). For more specific info and pictures on this check out this site: http://www.morethanmary.com/2013/04/29/spinning-legs/
4. 60 min. of spinning burns 400-800 calories – which can be negated in the kitchen in 10 min! Anytime we get extra active we may start to think we can eat a lot more because we did burn it off right? That is dangerous thinking! While I don’t believe in deprivation, always be mindful of the reality of the calories you really burned and how many are in that cheeseburger! Don’t negate all that hard work in class!
5. Glycolytic supercompensation – Whoa I know – what was that I just read? This is a body builder’s term but has some relevance here. Basically, if you start to eat less food than you need (carb deprivation) and increase your activity (really hard spinning class) you will completely deplete your glycogen stores in your muscles. You can’t continue this of course and you will most likely eat too much at your next meal and carbo load.
This cycle sets you up for bigger carb storage which may increase your muscle cell size and maybe your jean size. The point here since you are probably not looking to bulk up your legs like a body builder, is that a balanced diet always wins! Eat good food when you are hungry and don’t wait for your body to scream at you to eat – and yes eat healthy carbs.
If you want even more info on this topic look here: http://www.fitnesscontrarian.com/can-spinning-class-make-your-legs-bigger/
6. Quads are great calorie burners! Shapely and toned quads or one of the larger muscles, so it is a great way to raise your metabolism and shrink all over!
Although it is my opinion that spinning is still a great workout that will not give you thunderous thighs; it is always a good idea to mix up your workouts for various reasons to prevent:
1.Boredom withthe same routine and potential of stopping to exercise altogether
2. Injuries from repetitive use- cycling could cause the hip flexors to tighten and result in a loss in some lower body flexibility, so make sure to add in some stretching and/or yoga.
3. Muscle imbalances due to lack of core and strength training. Since there is not one perfect exercise that works every muscle in all potential angles, make sure you add in some strength and core training to your workouts.
so embrace your muscle and the strength it gives you!