For Instructors Spinning

What's Wrong with Hovers and Isolations? (Free drill included)

I get the same questions at nearly every Orientation I teach. They often start out with someone saying, "We don't have Spinning at our gym, we call it 'indoor cycling,' but the instructors do this move called hovering and some of them are JGSI certified. I don't see it in the manual. Is it okay to do?" I hear the same type of questions about isolations, riding super high cadence, super slow cadence, unclipping one foot, and riding with no hands. Before answering the questions, I usually ask these partipants to show me the movements because I have learned that the names of movements can have a variety of actual positions. I ask them to demonstrate first for clarity and then to break the movements down biomechanically to show how inefficient they are on an indoor bike. These questions have been asked and answered on the forum and also at times addressed in this blog site, but there is a constant flow of new readers and it is always good to maintain an understanding of what Spinning is and isn't. Remember that in the instructor manual it actually says that any movements or positions not outlined in the manual or done in poor form are considered contraindicated. The Spinning program elevated itself to the popularity it enjoys by promoting a safe and effective program. The Spinning program has set the standards for safety and effectiveness in the industry. Sixteen years into group cycling, there are now industry standards for safety that are shared and promoted by other organizations such as ACE and AFAA which certify group exercise instructors. Hovering, which is done on a mountain bike while going down a steep incline, without pedaling, does not cross over to a stationary bike. It is biomechanically inefficient because it over tightens the hip flexors and puts stress on the low back and neck. Isolations are actually done in two ways. At some gyms, they have the students squat between the saddle and the handlebars while pedaling. That is such a rookie move that it pains me to even have to remind people that when you bend the knee over 90 degrees in a weight bearing situation, the patella bone gets sheared. It is like peeling layers off of it. The other way so-called instructors teach isolations is to have everyone stand up and pedal super slow with one leg while freezing the upper body. The connective tissue of the knee takes the brunt force of this trying to stabilize in a very unnatural position. When we lengthen levers, they weaken. The whole body is at a disadvantage when a rider must pedal in a straigtened position. In order to strengthen the body safely, we should always start from a neutral position for the exercise. A neutral position on the bike is when there is a 25-35 degree bend of the knee and a 55-65 degree bend at the hip at the bottom of the pedal stroke, whether standing or seated. We take our biomechanically efficient angles with whether seated or standing. Anything less or more puts us into misuse and can lead to injury. It is irresponsible for certified instructors to promote such movements because they are not industry standard. When we go against industry standards, we are out there on a limb without a safety net. If you have been promoting such movements in your classes because others have been teaching them at your gym, consider getting back to your roots. Re-read your manual and start planning challenging profiles that are safe and effective. Focus on pedal stroke techniques, cadence building, and gear loading to promote intensity. Here is a drill to get you started: Cadence building 1. Begin in moderate gear, on a 1-10 scale that would be 4th gear, seated flat, hand position two 2. Do a cadence count to get everyone to 80 RPM's. Maintain 80 for 20 seconds 3. Increase to 90 RPM's, then 100, then 110 all for 20 seconds each. 4. Reverse back down to 100, 90 and recover at 80. Repeat the drill several times. 5. You don't necessarily have to do cadence counts for every level, but maybe at 80 and 110, to be accurate for top and bottom. If you have a metronome, you can use that as well. Purpose: This will challenge riders out of their comfort zones, wherever that zone may be. Those that ride too fast, or those that ride too slow will have to learn how to apply the right amount of gear to support the entire range of cadence. It creates new neuromuscular pathways which improves their fitness and their cycling ability in a safe way. It teaches them the full range of cadence in the seated flat. You can also of course do this drill in standing flat (80-110 RPM's) as well as seated or standing hills at 60-80 RPM's. The best type of class to apply it would be an interval ride. Have fun! Written by master instructor Sabrina Fairchild for community.spinning.com blog 4/17/2011
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