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Train Hard…And Smart: Understanding the Five Spinning Energy Zones™

Believe it or not, you could be working your students too hard. To help you as a Spinning® instructor recognize the importance of developing an aerobic foundation and balancing the application of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, the Spinning® program divides workout formats into five categories called Energy Zones™. The five zones are: Endurance, Strength, Interval, Race Day, and Recovery. When you lead workouts according to the Energy Zone guidelines, you offer the appropriate training session for the various exercise needs of your students. The variety of movements available to attain the prescribed heart rates in the Energy Zones generates much of the excitement, challenge and creativity of the Spinning program.

Remember that regardless of workout format, an individual can control the effort level of his workout by monitoring heart rate during the workout. The beauty and efficiency of the Spinning program is that all riders have the freedom to exercise at their own pace, on their own bicycles, yet still enjoy the energy and inspiration of group exercise.

While the Energy Zones are divided according to heart rates, note that heart rate range is merely one physical component of training in a particular Energy Zone. Each zone is also characterized by several physical and mental components. A rider may attain the same heart rates with the same pedaling style during totally different workouts.

The Spinning Energy Zones are the foundation of the Spinning program and the main reason why Spinning has achieved a higher level of sophistication than other group exercise programs that fail to recognize the importance of heart rate parameters and specificity of training. Here is an overview of the five Spinning Energy Zones:

Endurance training is the heart and soul of any successful exercise program and most of your total training time should be spent in the Endurance Energy Zone™. Endurance training is the foundation upon which we build our health and performance goals. In the Spinning® Endurance Energy Zone, or low-end endurance (65-75% MHR), cyclists improve physical health, increase energy stores, improve heart and lung function and burn body fat. This is where most of your students’ health-related goals lie. In performance terms, endurance training increases aerobic capacity, builds muscular endurance and improves cycling efficiency. Endurance training is also mentally challenging, providing an excellent opportunity to develop cognitive skills applicable to competition and to the stresses of daily life.

The Strength Energy Zone™ improves muscular endurance as well as mental strength. By learning to develop the mental stamina to overcome obstacles, riders learn to develop the self confidence needed to overcome challenges in all areas of life. Taking this a step further, riders have the opportunity to find the champion within through hard work, persistence and perspiration rather than ego.

Aerobic/anaerobic interval training workouts help us push past our current fitness levels once we’ve established a strong aerobic base through endurance training. The Interval Energy Zone™ is essential to anyone interested in improving their fitness level, enhancing their performance or changing their metabolism. It is a form of training in which short to moderate periods of hard (to very hard) work are alternated with short to moderate periods of rest or reduced activity.  Interval training challenges your body to carry and deliver more oxygen to muscle cells for short periods of intense work before too much lactate accumulates preventing the continuation of work. The language of interval training involves the words sets, repetitions, training time or distance, frequency, work interval and recovery interval.

Race Day
Race Day is a chance to apply consistent training to a peak performance effort. It’s the Spinning program equivalent of a cyclist’s time trial. This means that every measure must be taken to ensure that your students are primed for the challenge. If they follow these guidelines, your students are likely to be able to “peak on demand” like champion athletes:
• Preparation: Develop an aerobic base.
• Rest prior: No anaerobic activity should take place for at least three days prior to a race day ride.
• Health: All participants must be 100% healthy.
• Stress factors: Students should be encouraged to minimize other forms of stress in their lives immediately prior to the ride.
• Relaxation: Engage in passive activity prior to a race day ride.

A recovery training session involves riding at very low intensities with heart rates between 50–65% of maximum heart rate, or a Rating of Perceived Exertion of 9–12. We all know that to attain increased fitness and performance in one’s activity or sport you must train with dedication, discipline and greater intensity. What is often overlooked is that intense training, followed by easy days, will yield greater gains in fitness and performance. The objective of the Recovery Energy Zone™ is to create balance in your training plan.

The Spinning Energy Zone home study and online course provides an in-depth examination of the training and instruction concepts for each Spinning Energy Zone, written by five different authors with specialized expertise in their Energy Zone field. This course will give you a thorough knowledge of how to present training sessions in each Energy Zone, and enable your students to experience the benefits of a well-rounded training system.

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