Many students go to Spinning® class to ultimately control their weight and most probably burn fat and improve their overall performance. I sometimes get the opportunity to teach to cyclists who are looking to build their endurance and even work on form. Either way, no matter who it is who enters those classroom doors, every person desires the appropriate workout for them. How do you satisfy each person? Do interval training with them.
First, interval training burns fat, along with sugar for energy. When you bring your cardiovascular (CV) system through aerobic and anaerobic energy zones, you enable the body adaptive capabilities to become more energy efficient as a result. Think of it as training your CV system through a full range of motion. Just like you do a biceps curl through a full range to strenghtne the biceps muscles, you must do the same for your CV system to improve your cardiovascular strength and improve your energy utilization. Otherwise, if you train at high intensities only (at a heart rate over 70% of it's max), you will not empower the body to be energy efficient and your students' CV levels may never improve. Not to mention, training at high intensities only will burn sugars and not allow your body to burn fat as energy. As a result, one's CV system will not improve.
Another point to make is when you work out at high intensities only, as in steady state training, your body releases cortisol in the body which will age the body very quickly. Cortisol is the vicious stress hormone that is released when your body is under stress. Steady state training is stress on the body. You will read more on telomeres in time, which are the endcaps to your chromosomes. It has been shown that high end athletes have shorter telomeres than the general population their age. Short telomeres are similar to those seen in the older population, that is in people over 60 years old. Short telomeres equate to mortality. The longer the telomeres, the younger the cells are. So, how does one spare the agining process? From a training standpoint, different training programs should apply. But for the general population who is looking to burn fat, optimize their CV performance, improve mental acuity and spare the body from the aging demon-cortisol, interval training is the way to go.
So, what then is interval training? Think short bursts of energy with recoveries in between. Think 30 seconds all out, with 1 minute recovery. So run real fast on a treadmill like a dog is chasing you, and then walk to catch your breath. That is only one example. During the recovery, you are essentially getting your "juice" back for the next set of explosions. Your sprints should be explosive.
So, get a heart rate monitor, know your heart rate zone. and train within that zone for optimal performance. You should certainly ask a fitness professional to test your VO2 Max on the bike to identify what your target heart zone should be. I talk about this in Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools. There are also sample interval programs in my book too for your reference.
Nutrition is another conversation. But for now, interval training is the way to go for optimal aging and optimal performance.
Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT