02-11-2016

Watt Based Cycling Training

I’ve been taking a new class at Ride + Reflect called POWER Ride. It’s been awesome. I take it Thursday mornings and it is probably the best workout of my week.

What is watt-based cycling training and how can it help you get stronger and fitter (especially if you're a runner too)? | http://reach-yourpeak.com

This watt based cycling class is based around your wattage output. So if you go to spin classes, if the bikes have meters (I love Ride + Reflect’s Keiser bikes), you’re able to see your mileage and watt output. What is a watt exactly? According to Competitor:

Strictly speaking, a watt is a measure of power per unit time (1 joule per second, to be exact). This can contribute to your cycling training because the objective nature of watt-based training gives you much more precision than either heart rate or perceived exertion since it is a measurement of the workload you’ve done independent from speed, winds, hills and all the other variables that can change how difficult you perceived a ride to be.

And according to Equinox:

Used correctly, watts can help you better understand how your energy is being transferred to the bike. Perceived exertion changes based on several factors such as your stress levels, how well you ate or slept before your ride, and the temperature outside. Watts are unbiased. “That’s what’s great about wattage. It takes out of all the variables,” Pennino says. “If you’re training off your heart rate,” he explains, “when you’re stressed, tired, dehydrated or sick, your numbers are always different. Watts, however, are always watts.” 

We start the class with a warm-up and then move into a 5-6 minute “test” to find your maximum wattage. We do a standing climb, and the goal is to get to a point where you’re at an 8-9 level of exertion. You watch that watt number climb up and try to maintain at the highest level you can. Everyone varies depending on their gear and RPMs. For example, I am around 150-160 max, while the “real” cyclists in my class hit over 200, almost 300 watts (dayummm).

So you find your max watts, then take a 2 minute rest, and then we get into the ride. So the rest of the class is based around that number. When we do sprints, endurance, hills, standing climbs, etc., the instructor tell us “ok get that number to 10 below your max watts” or “now we are going to stay at 100 RPMs but get your watts to 20-30 below your max.” It makes the ride more challenging because you can spin at 100 RPMs at a gear 8, but your watts will be low…so now you have to crank up the gears, keep 100 RPMs and try to hit that watt number.

No clue if that all made sense but basically what I’m trying to say is it’s a bit more challenging than a normal ride because you are trying to hit certain numbers. In a normal class, you of course are challenging yourself, but you’re not trying to hit certain numbers. It’s like going for a basic run vs. doing a track workout. When you have set numbers you need/want to hit, you will push your body even further.

I think this type of class also helps with mental strength, which will translate well for me with running. I’ve noticed on hard hill climbs during my runs, I’m thinking about the cues instructors give during classes. To shut out the pain. To ignore the burn and keep pushing. Push. Push. Push.

If you’re in NJ, I highly recommend taking the POWER Ride class (and any cycling or yoga class) at Ride + Reflect. If you want to build your own ride, I suggest doing a 5 minute test and seeing what your  max numbers get to. You want that watt number to be consistent for those 5 minutes – it’s not like you’re riding easy for 4 minutes then hit it for the last minute and use that number. Really challenge yourself for 5 straight minutes. Then afterwards build your ride based on that number. Throw in longer efforts, hill climbs, sprints, easier portions where you’re 50 watts below your max, etc. This article has some workout ideas as well.

I’ll admit, my running recently has kind of been lacking, but I’ve been consistent with cycling and love doing something different. But next week I do want to start running again and get back to 5 days of running.

Have you ever tried a cycling class based on watt output?

When the going gets tough in a fitness class or on a run, what do you tell yourself to keep going? My mantra in workouts and races is “Grind it out.”

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02-08-2016

Best Dumbbell Exercises

Happy Monday!

Did you all watch the SuperBowl yesterday? What’d you think of the halftime show? I personally loved it, and loved Coldplay, but I keep reading about how people thought they were boring and/or Beyonce was better. I loved the whole thing – very entertaining. Plus, my sister and I will be seeing Coldplay on tour so we thought it was cool :)

Anyway, today marks Day 1 of my 5 Day Fitness Challenge (which you can sign up for here if you haven’t already). The first workout is a leg workout, and I’ll link to it below. First I just wanted to talk about dumbbell only workouts.

My 5 day challenge only uses dumbbells, mainly because it’s easiest for people since most have them. However, I prefer dumbbells over machines or even barbells. Dumbbells work your entire body more because you’re holding one in each hand, so you need to engage your core for exercises. Think about how much harder it is to do a dumbbell chest press than a barbell press. Or a single arm row as opposed to a barbell row. Not saying I don’t like barbells, because they definitely have their place, but dumbbells are #1 for me.

Using dumbbells can also show you if you have any muscle imbalances. For example, when I do dumbbell chest press, I realize that one arm is able to go down lower than the other arm, which points to an imbalance.

Lastly, dumbbells can help build your grip strength. Trying to do walking lunges with less-than-great grip strength is HARD and your forearms will be burning. Using dumbbells for lunges, farmer’s carries, deadlifts, and more can help build your grip strength (which translates well for heavier deadlifts or pull-ups if that’s your goal).

So here are a few of my favorite dumbbell exercises:

The best dumbbell exercises (in my opinion) to build total body strength! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Single-arm row

I love single arm rows. I feel like they really target your back and build strength fast. I like to support myself on a box or bench (as opposed to my knee) to really have a stable base. One tip is to make sure that when you lower the dumbbell, you’re not lowering it all the way down and letting your shoulders relax. You want to SQUEEZE your shoulder blades the entire time. So even when you’re at the lowest point, you’re still squeezing/flexing your shoulder blade/back, and using those muscles to pull it back up, instead of momentum.

single arm rowPhoto source

I also like to stand, like the photo above, as opposed to having one knee on the bench. This way engages more of your core AND your hamstrings and glutes.

Single-leg deadlift

These are killer (and in my workout video). If you have awful balance like I do, it’s even harder. But that’s the best part. It helps you get better at balancing and using your core, which is so important for runners and athletes.

single leg deadliftPhoto source

Start with bodyweight only, and work your way up to holding a dumbbell in each hand. Then work your way to an offset (one dumbbell) with a heavier weight. Your hamstrings will definitely be feeling it the next day!

Skullcrushers

This is an exercise that is definitely more challenging with dumbbells than a barbell. I think it is “easier” to get the weight up with a barbell. This is also a great exercise for building tricep strength, which is important for any pushing exercise (bench press, push-ups, etc.). 

Photo source

Make sure you lower the dumbbell down to the bench (touch the bench by your ears) before going back up. You can also do single arm variations. You want to keep your elbows in and back, kind of on an angle going behind you, not straight up. Your elbows should stay in that position, and only your hands move the weights throughout the motion (not your elbows swaying back and forth).

These are three of my top dumbbell exercises. I am always sore the next day after doing these! 

Here is my first workout of the 5 Day Fit Challenge :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9BuqekuXCw

Make sure to sign up for the challenge so you can be entered to win a PlantFusion prize pack! It’s 5 days of workout videos sent right to your inbox, printables to take to the gym, support and (like I said) a chance to win some free protein powder! Who doesn’t want that?

What are your favorite dumbbell exercises? 

If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be? I think I would choose walking lunges…so tough but a total body exercise AND gets the heart rate up!

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02-03-2016

My First Week Of WeightWatchers + My Grocery Store Picks

So I started WeightWatchers last week…and so far have lost 3 lbs.!! I have done WeightWatchers in the past but I was just calculating points based on calculators I found online. This time I decided to join the plan in order to get recipe ideas from them as well as their handy dandy app. Plus, I only really stuck with it for 3 weeks last time.

This time, I’m determined to lose at least 15 lbs. by summer. I just have not been feeling great about myself and need to lose fat. I store fat in my midsection which is even worse (this is the worst place to store fat).

Anyway, I decided to join WW with a friend. They’ve changed their point system to account more for added sugars and protein, which I really like. For example, one of their carrot cake snacks used to be 2 pts. and now it is 4. I think it’s important for people to cut down on their sugar intake.

So like I said, I lost 3 lbs in week one! This is a combination of my diet as well as working out way more than I have in recent times. I’ve been trying to do spin in the mornings and run in the evenings, though sometimes I run before spin, or I’ll do a run, then one of Ride & Reflect‘s 30/30 classes (30 min. spin and 30 min. yoga). This may seem like a lot but I have hit a plateau and knew I needed to switch things up and do more. I think many people, such as myself in the past, grossly overestimate how much they are burning in, let’s say, a 4-5 mile run…which leads to eating more, which leads to not losing weight.

I was running consistently, but definitely overeating. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far with WW:

  • My portions were too big. The first few days I was shocked by how “little” I was eating…definitely was not supposed to be eating that much pasta :) but I always justified it with, “I just worked out, I can eat this for dinner.”
  • When I’m tracking my food, I have more motivation to say no to things. I went to Starbucks and really wanted something, but all their snacks were at least 10 points or more! I knew that would leave me with very little for the rest of the day, so I said no.
  • Drinking tea helps. I’m sure you’ve all heard this, but drinking tea can help with cravings. So now before bed I drink this detox tea I bought, or a lemon ginger tea for digestion.

I’m really liking the program so far. I needed much more accountability with nutrition, and this is helping me stay on track. For some reason, if I’m just tracking calories on my own in MyFitnessPal, I just am not as motivated. Oh, I also got a food scale which I love! It’s been eye-opening seeing the actual portion sizes of things, like chicken or beef.

One last thing: I posted a new YouTube video on my channel today! It’s just a quick video of some of my favorite picks at the grocery store. Check it out:

And lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my 5 day fitness challenge! 5 days of workouts sent right to your inbox and one lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack! You can sign up below:

Sign up for the 5 Day Fitness Challenge!

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Let me know if you sign up!

Have you ever tried WeightWatchers or a similar program?

What is harder for you, consistent exercise or consistent healthy nutrition?

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02-01-2016

3 Reasons Exercise Programs Fail & How To Overcome Them

It’s February 1st! A new month…a clean slate…

Did you know that a third of those who make New Year’s Resolutions don’t even make it to the end of January? We need to stay strong and committed as a new month rolls in!

Many people make resolutions to be healthier, work out more, etc. So why do they fall off within a month or two? That’s what I wanted to talk about today AND invite you to participate in a FREE 5 day fitness challenge that starts next week, so we can hold each other accountable and motivate each other. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.

Here are 3 reasons why exercise programs fail, and how to overcome them. + a FREE 5 day fitness challenge to re-ignite your goals and motivation! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Getting to the gym is a hassle

For many people, in the beginning they’re going to the gym every day, and then it starts to taper off. Why? Because getting to the gym might be a hassle. If you’re going after work, you might have to sit in traffic to get there. If you’re going in the morning, you might opt out because you don’t want to lug your work clothes, towel, shampoo, etc. for the post-workout shower. These small annoyances might start leading to, “I’ll just go tomorrow.” Here are a few ways to get back on track:

  • On days you get out of work late, or you wake up not wanting to drive to the gym, do an at-home workout video. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, it is better than nothing, and you’ll feel great. I love Fitness Blender on YouTube for home workouts.
  • Sign up for fitness classes. I’ve been staying consistent with my morning cycling classes because if I cancel I have to pay $20. When you have a commitment, you’re more apt to go. A second idea is to schedule a workout time with a friend…you can’t bail on your friends!
  • Create your own dumbbell workout routine that you can do at home. I wrote more about creating a full-body routine here.

Gym equipment is confusing

Alright so maybe you get to the gym, but then what? There are so many pieces of equipment, how do you know which to use OR if you’re even using them properly? This overload can cause some to feel intimidated and stop going to the gym all-together. Check out the link above on how to create your own routine. You can also use sites like bodybuilding.com that have a ton of workout plans and show how to do each exercise. My advice is to just stick to dumbbells or kettlebells. You can get a great workout with just those pieces of equipment, and oftentimes a BETTER workout than using a machine.

No accountability

If you’re trying to go at this alone, it will get tough at times. Even though I train with my mom, there are days I dread going to the gym or running. And that is even with a workout partner, so I can’t imagine if I didn’t have her! You need people to hold you accountable. Find someone to go to the gym with or run with a few times a week. Tell yourself you can only do X if you go to the gym that day (watch Netflix, get a manicure…whatever you think will work for you!). It doesn’t necessarily have to be a workout buddy either. Tell people about your goals and ask them to check in with you. When you know that people know what you’re working towards, you’re more apt to actually achieve those goals. Which is why my 5 day fitness challenge is perfect for you if you want accountability…we will all be checking in with each other and supporting each other!

So what will this 5 Day Fitness Challenge entail?

  • Daily 15 min. workout videos by me, sent to you for 5 days so you can work out right at home (and you only need dumbbells)!
  • PDF printables of the workouts in case you want to do it at the gym.
  • Instagram hashtag so you can connect with other challenge members and support each other.

AND

  • PRIZES! One lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack with 1 full-size PlantFusion product of their choice (Thanks PlantFusion!). PlantFusion is a plant-based protein powder (which I love) that is perfect for smoothies and post-workout recovery shakes.

So here are the quick details:

WHEN: Feb. 8 – Feb 14

HOW DO I SIGN UP: Click below and enter your email to sign up. I will send you all the details before Feb. 8 so you’re ready to hit the ground running!



 
Leave a comment below and let me know if you signed up! :)
 
 
What do you think is a reason many people “fall off the resolution wagon” come Feb. or March?
What steps do you take to make sure you stay strong and committed?

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01-26-2016

Indoor Cycling Tips For Beginners

Guys…I seriously am obsessed with my cycling classes. Before I start, apparently they aren’t actually called “spin” classes because that is trademarked. So from here on out, I’ll refer to it as cycling (or try to remember to refer to it as cycling).

But anyway, I have been loving taking cycling classes at Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ. I remember taking cycling classes before and counting down the minutes until it was over (mainly because it was so hard for me), but these classes fly by. The instructors are great and push you hard, the playlists pump you up, and before you know it, the workout is over.

I’ll admit, that first class I took (and it was only a 30 min. class) was hard. I was like, “how will I survive 45 minutes of this??” But, as with any exercise such as running or lifting weights for the first time, the first day will always be hard. Once you get over that hump, you’ll feel great and get stronger each class.

While I’m obviously no expert (this is only me second month of classes at Ride + Reflect), I wanted to write a few tips for those who might want to start cycling or tried it but didn’t love it at first. If you’re a runner, check out my previous post about how cycling can make you faster.

Here are 5 indoor cycling tips for beginners. Don't be afraid to take a class - it's a killer workout! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Dress Appropriately

You will be sweating a lot. I need 2 towels on the handlebars to wipe my sweat (but I also sweat more than the average person…or at least I think so). You definitely want to be wearing a sweat wicking shirt as opposed to cotton. Go for capris or longer shorts too. I wore shorter spandex shorts once and they were riding up the whole time and distracting. I love UnderArmour and Nike tops for any workout. My favorite is actually Coach Marc’s TrainWithMarc team shirts (by Nike). I swear I sweat buckets and that shirt stays dry(ish). He sells tanks too.

Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to tell the instructor it’s your first class. In fact, do it! The instructor will help you set up your bike specifically to your height and other factors. The great thing about Ride + Reflect is that they write down your specifications, so whenever you walk into the class, your bike is already set up for you. I know many places don’t do that, so write down your numbers or keep it in a note on your phone so that you remember. Having the right seat height is really important, especially to prevent knee strain. Same with handlebar placement and seat placement (forward or back). Also, by telling the instructor, they will give you tips on the class, fill you in on the link (position 2, position 3, etc.), and make you feel more comfortable.

Cycling Terminology

Let’s talk more about the terminology I used above…though if you don’t remember this, no worries, your instructor will fill you in. Here are a few different things you might hear:

  • Position 2: This means you’re out of the saddle (aka standing up) with your hands on the handlebars closest to you.
  • Position 3: Out of the saddle with your hands farthest away from you on the handlebars. Back is flat, hips are back.
  • RPMS: Rotations per minute. If your bike has a screen, it will flash RPMs. Usually instructors give you a range, like, “Ok you want to be around 90-100 RPMs.” Don’t worry if you can’t hit their numbers, I sometimes can’t either, but it gives you a goal to work towards.
  • Resistance: Cycling bikes come with a knob or lever to increase resistance, or how hard your legs have to work to turn the wheel. Instructors will tell you to increase resistance to go “up a hill” or increase resistance and keep the same RPMs. The higher the resistance, the harder your will be working, and the more your quads will be burning! If you can’t keep a resistance at a certain level, don’t be afraid to take a break, pedal easy for a minute or so, and then get back into it.

Here’s a handy little image I found showing hand positioning on the handlebars:

Photo source

Sit In The Front

Remember in college when professors or advisors would tell you to sit in the front of the class to get better grades? Cycling is similar. Don’t be afraid to sit in the front even if you’re a beginner! By sitting in the front you will see and hear the instructor better, which is very important if it’s your first class. If you’re not comfortable with that, sit in the second row and keep your eye on other spinners to check your form or get cues from them. I usually like to sit in the front row of one of the side seats, so I don’t make awkward eye contact with the instructor lol (I hate awkward eye contact).

Go At Your Own Pace

You might be competitive by nature, like I am, but you always want to make sure you’re going at your own pace. And the great thing about cycling classes is that no one has to know what that is! No one knows what resistance you’re at or your RPMs (unless they are peeking at your monitor I suppose). Everyone is focused on themselves and their own ride. I take classes regularly with this instructor who is an avid cyclist and obviously WAY more in shape than I am. He’s like, “ok let’s crank out 120 RPMs!” and I’m pedaling all out at 100. Go at your own pace, and work your way up. Each class I’m able to add RPMs and total mileage. Just like with running, start slow and you will improve. One day you can barely run 1 mile, then you’re able to run 6 miles no problem. Cycling is the same thing.

So hopefully these tips are helpful! If you haven’t yet tried a cycling class I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to exercise indoors when the weather isn’t the best, and also a good cross-training choice for athletes. The first few classes will be challenging, but once you get into the groove of things, you will feel fit and strong.

PS – I found this link today and it is TOO accurate: 19 Things That Happen In Every Spin Class

Do you take cycling classes? 

Has there been a class (any type of fitness class) that you’ve been intimidated to try out at first but then ended up loving it?

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01-20-2016

Spontaneous Trip to Arizona

Dan and I made a decision on the fly last week and flew out to Arizona on Friday. Well, we had talked about it the previous week but just in passing like, “hey the Devils play in Arizona next week we should go.” Then a few days before we started to look into airfare and, obviously, the price had gone up. We figured “oh well.” But then Friday, Dan kept saying how he really wanted to go and I was like you know what…YOLO haha. I told him we knew we would regret it if we didn’t go, especially if we were watching the Devils game on TV. We’d be thinking ugh we should have been there!

So anyway, we said F it and got a flight for Friday afternoon. We got to Phoenix at 7:30 their time. By the time we got our rental car and got to the hotel it was 8:30, aka 10:30 on our clocks. We were so tired but headed out to dinner at The Keg Steakhouse which was DELICIOUS.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.10.51 AM

The next morning, Saturday, we got up and headed to Gila River Arena for the Devils game. We both love checking out new stadiums and arenas, and cheering for the away team ;) The arena, on the inside, actually looked a lot like Prudential Center (where the Devils play), but I wasn’t really impressed by the outside or the concourse.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.12.03 AM

Anyway, the Devils won 2-0! There is this big outdoor entertainment area outside of the arena with a bunch of sports bars. It was so crazy to me that we were sitting at an outdoor bar in t-shirts in January. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.13.14 AM

Afterwards we headed to Scottsdale for dinner and drinks, and to watch the Cardinals game. There were actually a lot of Green Bay Packers fans in town as well for the game.

Sunday was our day to head to the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like. We drove 3.5 hours to get there, and it was interesting how the scenery changed the farther up you drive. It went from desert land with cacti, to snow covered and mountains in the distance. Side note: on our drive out of the city we saw runners running the RnR AZ race…let me know if you were one of them!

This might sound stupid, and was a total traveler’s mistake on my end, but I didn’t think it would be cold there since in Phoenix it was 60s-70s. Then on the drive there I checked the weather and saw it said 22 degrees! So we made a pitstop at a Kohl’s in Flagstaff to get myself a jacket lol.

Part of our drive

Part of our drive

The Grand Canyon was around 7,000 feet elevation, so my ears were popping the whole way there. We got there and our first stop was Desert View Watchtower. We were immediately taken aback by the views and scenery. It really is indescribable. We then drove about 20 miles within the park and stopped at every view point we could.

There was one location with no guard rails, so people were taking photos on this rock on the rim. So we did it too, though it was really scary! The rock did not have good footing, and it was windy. But it made for some amazing pictures:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.21.23 AM

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There truly is nothing like it. I keep saying we need to go back because 1) it was amazing and 2) there was a lot of snow, so we couldn’t do any hiking on the rim trails. Here’s one more pic:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.35.33 AM

We spent a few hours there exploring and also stayed for the sunset. Then drove all the way back…and ended the night/trip with In n’ Out Burger :) However, I will say I think Shake Shack > In n’ Out Burger…

This trip really motivated me to do more traveling this year. It’s one of my 2016 goals. My friend and I are thinking of heading to Mont Tremblant, Canada in February, then I’ve got a summer trip to Paraguay and Rio…I can’t wait!

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?

Where would you like to travel to this year? My next bucket list US stop would probably be New Orleans or somewhere in Texas :)

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01-14-2016

Exercising In The Mornings

I did it! I woke up 3 times this week to exercise in the AM! Tomorrow will be 4 since I’m signed up for an 8:30 am spin class.

On Monday, Tuesday and today I woke up at 6:30 am to get my butt to the gym or spin class. Monday I ran in the morning and did a spin class in the evening. I did a track workout on the treadmill and felt pretty strong for not having ran much recently. I really wanted to bail on the evening class but felt so great once I got started:

 

A photo posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

Tuesday I did a morning spin class and took off from running. It was nice to be done for the day (workout wise) by 8:30 am.

Yesterday I ran in the evening and lifted some weights. Let me tell you, I DID NOT want to go to the gym. I ALMOST talked myself out of it, but said shut up and just do it. I told myself I’d just run for 20 minutes…and then ended up running 45 min + 15 minutes of weights.

Honestly, I have never woken up this early to exercise in my life. Because I am not a morning person at all. I definitely prefer evening workouts. I don’t know what got into me, but this week I am feeling great! I told you all that I want to lose weight, and so every workout I want to skip I remind myself of my goal, and how sitting on the couch won’t get me any closer to losing 15-20 pounds.

After the first day, I was like okay…waking up this early isn’t that bad. I feel great after my workout, though in the afternoons I do crash a bit. But once I actually begin the workout, my energy is there. It’s just dragging myself to the gym that’s the problem.

The moral of the story/this post is that when you really don’t want to exercise, just do it. Today I woke up with a sore throat and tired but told myself I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t get up to run. I ran 3 miles, and although my shins hurt, I’m feeling good now. Doing a spin class with yoga later today!

One last little piece of motivation…I loved this tweet from Jeanne:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.30.52 AM

“I’m still tired and I could’ve run by now.” So true…that will be my mantra from now on ;)

I know so many of you get up way earlier than 6:30 to exercise, but for me that feels like the crack of dawn lol. 

Being a total newb to this, here is what has helped me make it a bit easier/what I do the night before:

  • Pack my gym bag and lay out gym clothes 
  • Pack my work bag 
  • Make my lunch for the next day
  • Plan out what smoothie I’ll have in the morning

I literally get up, brush my teeth, drink my morning tea while I make my smoothie and change, and am out the door. “Do it before your brain figures out what’s going on,” right?

For my morning workout peeps, what tips do you have for people new to exercising in the AM?

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01-11-2016

Does Spinning Make You Faster?

Okay, so I’ve only been doing spin for the past 2 weeks, probably a total of 6-8 classes but I already feel the difference with my running.

This morning I did a 4×800 meter workout on the treadmill and was seriously doubting I could even hold a 9:00/mile pace for a half mile. I surprised myself and felt great! I did them in 4:20 (8:40/mile pace), 4:15 (8:30/mile pace), 4:14 (8:28/mile pace) and 4:00 (8:00/mile pace). It was challenging but not THAT challenging. 

When I had talked to the owner of the spin studio I am going to (Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ in case you’re curious), she was telling me how spinning can definitely help my running and aerobic capacity. It has helped many of her clients which are also skiiers.

As runners, we constantly read about cross training and how important it is or how great it is if you’re injured. I have been skeptical about it because in my mind, in order to get faster/better at running, I figured I should just try to run more. I’m still planning on increasing my miles this year BUT I really would like to also include spin classes into that routine.

I did some googling and found a lot of great facts about how spinning can make you faster and a better runner…let’s get into it:

Does spinning make you faster? Here are a few ways how it can! | reach-yourpeak.com

Spinning is non-impact

Duh, right? Well the benefit here is that for those of us that can’t run twice a day for fear of injuries (I hate my shin problems), a spin class can be the second workout of the day that will help with cardio/aerobic endurance. As long as you’re properly situated on your bike, you should feel comfortable and no pain. I recently met a man who has had double knee surgery and is at spin everyday (and has no issues). Truly a great cross training option. If you still have your doubts, here’s what Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running has to say about it:

Physically, I got stronger than ever. I was doing more cardiovascular exercise than I had ever done with barely any extra injury risk. If you’re injury-prone, this is exactly how you improve your personal bests.

Spinning strengthens your legs

This is key for running, right? I can’t tell you how hard my first spin class was. My quads were on fire. I was so thankful it was only a 30 minute class because I was so done.

According to Breaking Muscle:

Spinning develops the leg muscles more than running, simply because it takes more muscle power to push a pedal through different levels of resistance than it does to move the leg through a running stride, although running uphill develops considerable leg strength, too.

Spinning can be a great recovery tool

I haven’t used a spin class as a recovery session yet, though the studio I go to does offer 30 minute gentle rides. Here’s a good excerpt from this article on Runner’s World:

Cycling can benefit runners for both recovery and training. It aids in recovery by flushing the legs out. A super-easy spin has no impact, and you’re moving blood through the muscles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cycling can be great for building high-end aerobic training doing intervals.

Spinning can increase your cadence

You’ve probably heard that you should run around 180 steps per minute. My body naturally falls into that routine (and my brother always makes fun of me saying I take quick little steps lol), but if you need help with that, spinning can help. Throughout the class your moving your legs faster and faster – and you’ll even notice improvements in each class. I now do about 2 miles more than the first class I went to 2 weeks ago. By pedaling around 90 RPMs, you’ll mimic the 180 steps per minute, and it might feel more natural when you hit the roads.

As I said in the beginning, I still feel like more running = better running. I know many who disagree, and each runner is different, so to each his own. But I do think adding in spin classes (or cycling outdoors if you like that better) can build up your leg strength and aerobic capacity. I liked this last quote by Jason of Strength Running:

To be a good runner, you have to run a lot. Alternative training can help bridge the gap, especially for injury-prone runners, but you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots (I love that line!).

My goal for this year is train now through March for 5K, perhaps run a spring half, and then begin marathon training in June/July. I want to have a solid base by then and also ramp up my miles during marathon training. Last year was doing average of 30. During my last NYC Marathon training I peaked at 55 (seriously how??). So my goal for this time is to also peak around 50ish. We’ll see what happens!

Do you regularly take spin classes? If you don’t mind my asking, how many miles to you get in 45 minutes? I’m currently at 17!

What is your favorite form of cross training?

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01-03-2016

My 2016 Goals

Hey everyone! I know I’ve been kind of MIA, but it was the holiday season and I just wanted to disconnect and enjoy being on break and with friends and family :)

So since I’ve been gone, I actually got a 1 month pass to a local spin studio (thanks to Dan!) so I have gone to 4 spin classes so far. They are so challenging! Here’s my pic from my first class, which was a 30 min. spin and 30 min. yoga class…my goal is to break 20 miles in a 45 min. class soon!

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 8.26.19 PM

I plan on going most days (trying for every day if my schedule allows it) in order to add some cross training to my running, and also to try something new and hopefully lose some weight…

Let’s just say, the holiday season was a little less exercise and a little too much eating whatever I want…

But what can you do.

Which leads me into my 2016 goals. Weight loss is my number one from now through the next 3 months, and I plan on documenting it here.

Basically, after Chicago Marathon, I just have not been running much at all (ran 1-2x a week since October), but have not been watching my diet. I need to change that asap, especially as I begin my 5K training to hopefully PR in March or April. Furthermore, I want to lose weight to help my running/marathon training when that comes around in July. Did you know for every lb. overweight you are that is about one minute extra onto your marathon time? 

So here are my goals for this upcoming year:

  • Lose 15 lbs. How? I plan on adding back in strength training to my routine, and really monitoring what I eat. I really hate putting things into the My Fitness Pal app though…isn’t there an easier way? :-P
  • 5K PR in March or April. Hopefully break 25 minutes!
  • Half marathon PR and marathon PR in November (NYC Marathon)
  • Be able to do 5 unassisted pull-ups

That’s it for now. I know it is not much, but I like to focus on a handful of goals first instead of a list of 20 and then not accomplish any. My most immediate goal is to continue with spinning most mornings, and run/lift in the evenings. I think that will help me in my plateau. 

Why is it so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose? There are 2 things I currently feel are impossible: losing 15 pounds and qualifying for the Boston Marathon :) 

What are your goals in these first few months of the new year?

Do you take spin classes? Have you found they help your running?

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12-15-2015

How To Get a Six-Pack

If only it were easy right? :)

This is a common question, and something I’m still working to achieve…and a loooong ways away from. So many people have asked me how they can “get flat abs” or “lose fat around their belly” and my answer is always the same.

It’s all about nutrition.

And that’s why I have a hard time with it!

how-to-get-a-six-pack

You can’t spot-reduce any area of your body, and if your stomach is the area that holds onto fat, then it will be the last area to lean out. Others might hold fat in their thighs or arms…wherever it is that you find it “impossible” to reduce, most likely that will be the last area to lose the fat. Bummer, I know.

While you can do all the crunches in the world, you still won’t be able to see that six-pack if you have fat over it. If you’re serious about losing the fat, then start getting serious about your nutrition. So much easier said than done, I know.

In order to lean out, you’ll probably have to eat at a 80/20 or 90/10 ratio. 80% “clean,” 20% other stuff. I put clean in parenthesis because it can mean different things to different people. To me it means getting your nutrition from whole food sources and cutting out any processed stuff.

It sounds strict but nutrition really is the key to weight loss. I am struggling with that now as I try to lose weight myself. It’s easy to indulge or make an excuse for why you can eat that cookie (“I just worked out for an hour.”).

I would be wary of diets you find online that claim you will lose 10 pounds in a week or things like that. The best plans are gradual and sustainable. You don’t want to be starving yourself.

Once you get your nutrition in check, make sure you’re working on daily (5-6 times a week)…side note: I read somewhere a few weeks ago that if you want to lose fat, you need to be working at 6 days a week. I gotta step it up!

If you’re looking for a workout routine, you can still sign up for my 4-week holiday fit blitz! It’s a 4-week workout plan…each workout is full-body and only takes 30 minutes. All you need are dumbbells.

Click Here To Get The Workout!

Anyway, make sure you’re working out regularly and of course doing those core exercises! Once you lose the fat, you’ll be able to see those taught abs ;)

I’m going to leave you with 3 ab workout videos that you can do anywhere. If you only have time for a core workout, then just do the core workout! Anything is always better than nothing. Okay here you go:

Do you have trouble losing belly fat like I do? 

Do you love or hate core exercises? 

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