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! |

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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  1. I teach spin several classes per week but have no idea about mileage. They added computers to our bikes but I get up and down so often to work the room that it shuts off. I think it can help runners cardio wise but they need to incorporate yoga and stretching.
    Margo recently posted…Brooklyn Fit Chick News: The “Name Tag Challenge,” “Waiting to Exhale” and a Piriformis Update!My Profile

    • The place I go to has yoga as well and I think I’ll do a yoga class after a spin class one day. The one thing that makes me nervous about taking spin too much is hip flexor tightness from sitting all day then sitting on a bike. Do you think that’s an issue?

  2. I went to a spin class and the instructor told me that spin is great for running (she runs marathons). I didn’t really believe her, but now I’m thinking I should give it a second look! Spin classes are so pricey, but we actually have spinning bikes in my gym at work. Maybe I’ll add it to my routine and see if it helps me get faster!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Weekly Meal Plan for 1/10/16My Profile

    • You do? I’m jealous!! I work at a college but our gym doesn’t have spin bikes, just those normal bikes which I hate. Let me know if you try it out!

  3. I’ve been off the road and on the bike via trainer the last couple of weeks. I’m all about trying to maintain fitness while I let my feet take a break. I’ve been really enjoying the change!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Loving/Not Loving/WinningMy Profile

  4. I think time on the bike definitely helps. If I take class it is at flywheel and avg 22 miles in class (nice that they keep your stats for you!). I do get on the spinner at my gym to cross train one day a week typically now. I have 6 days running on my half plan but find it is usually good to sub in 1 day on the bike instead of an easy 3 miles. I think as with everything, it is finding what makes you a better runner and works for your body personally. I know super speedy people who only train on 3 days a week of running which for me would never work!
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted…And Just Like That 2015 is OVER – TOLMy Profile

    • 22 miles?? nice! I’m not close to that yet, now my PR is 18. My plan as I start running again is to run 4-5 days a week and do 2-3 spin classes per week, and throw some lifting in there. We’ll see how it goes!

  5. I love taking spin classes! I’m injury prone and recently had knee surgery, so it’s a great form of cross training for me. I also think it makes me faster because my legs get more used to moving quickly.

  6. I used soon as cross training during my first ever half. It was great!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Why I’m Trying PaleoMy Profile

  7. So I love spinning and have been doing it for years. I often joke that I wish I could run as fast as I can spin. I love cycle for cross training and recovery but I have yet to figure out how to translate that into faster running.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Faux Pho-Vegetarian Noodle SoupMy Profile

    • I’m the opposite and wish I could spin faster. The instructor will say “ok we are at an easy 115 RPMs” and I’m struggling holding 85 lol.

  8. This is really interesting! I haven’t tried spinning yet but I’m curious to. Last summer, I really got into road cycling and enjoy it.
    Michelle Rogers recently posted…Come home to hearty, healthy vegetable beef soupMy Profile

    • I would actually love to get into road cycling but don’t have a bike and they are kinda pricy right? I think it would be a great workout (and help pass the time) to ride a bike around towns/neighboring towns. Maybe that will be my next investment!

  9. Ahhh Bernardsville, NJ!! I grew up in the area and would so love to try the studio you go to but moved away before it opened. Next time I go “home” I’ll have to pop in. Great post! Love spinning ;-)
    Diane recently posted…Our weekend up near VannesMy Profile

  10. I tell myself that it does regardless so I feel like I’m being productive when I’m injured!
    Carmy recently posted…Monday on the Run #40My Profile

  11. I have only done a spinning class once…YEARS ago! I keep saying I need to try it out again.
    Maureen recently posted…12 Whole30 Tips for BeginnersMy Profile

  12. I’ve taken a total of one spin class my entire life, but it sounds like spinning like so many other forms of cross training has a lot of benefits in making runners stronger.

  13. I love spinning and it definitely helps with my speed. Sometimes I sub it for speed work at the track if I’m feeling burnt out from running!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Weekly Wrap: Outdoor running and big changesMy Profile

  14. I have never done a spinning class, but I can imagine how the motion helps you turn your legs over faster, leading to better speed and efficiency.

    My favorite cross training is either yoga or body circuit. I don’t get to do enough of the former, though.
    Jenn recently posted…weekly recap: 1.3 – 1.9My Profile

    • I don’t do enough yoga either but really need to. The place I go to has yoga too but if I have to choose one I’m going to choose spin just becuase I love feeling like I’m out of breath and dripping in sweat. I definitely need to do more yoga though especially to stretch everything out.

  15. 4 weeks into training for my first marathon I got an injury. I had to take 6 weeks off (luckily it was a long training program- too long) and just did spinning and lifted weights. I didnt’ feel like I lost much at all.
    HollieMuscles&Munchkins recently posted…Banana Oat Protein Pancakes with Blueberry Chia JamMy Profile

  16. Spinning definitely makes me a faster runner. Especially when I do a spin workout that includes sprints. When I was running my best with a 3x/week running plan, a weekly spin class was my go-to cross-training (in addition to strength training and yoga).
    Marcia recently posted…I had a dream. A weird one.My Profile

    • The place I go to also has yoga classes, so I need to do those as well. People have recommend I do spin then yoga…but idk! I might pass out lol The great thing is they offer 30 min spin + 30 min yoga classes. Need to do those more!

  17. I love spinning!! I would love to do it more often – I think it is a great compliment to running. I do agree – running more makes you a better runner. But I also think strength training and adding in a spin class (esp, focusing on it during the off season) can make you a stronger, better runner. Great post! Thanks for sharing!! :)
    Natalie recently posted…14 Weeks Till BostonMy Profile

  18. This comes at the right time. I’m not injured but I’m picking up cross-training and really wondering how it will impact my running. We hear about the benefits of cross-training all the time and now I know that I will see an impact if I just keep it up.
    The Rookie Dad recently posted…Parenting: Turning Our Routine Life RandomMy Profile

    • I’m wondering how it will impact running too – after only a week, I DO feel a difference with running at faster paces…but we’ll see in the long run and with race times how it pans out. I feel like it’s “extra” mileage too, if you run in the AM and spin in the PM, it’s as if you got a second run in kinda (since you’re working your cardio system). I’ll keep you posted!

  19. I love spin class for cross training. I used to actually do only spin classes after running a half marathon for three months. It allowed my feet to heal and still got great workouts.
    Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner recently posted…Things I Am Loving Lately!My Profile

  20. Spinning class is the only thing I miss about a home gym. Definitely makes you faster.
    jill conyers recently posted…Strong and Lean Triple Set WorkoutMy Profile

  21. I need to become a regular at spin class. I love it, but I just never seem to be able to make the scheduled time (and somehow doing it on my bike at home is not the same…)
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Bizarre race dreams – have you had them?My Profile

    • I actually thought about getting my own bike to do it at home, but I feel like it wont be the same (like you said). but it would be very convenient!

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