Biking

Friday, June 16, 2006

Q: Do spinning classes help you burn fat quickly?

Do spinning classes help you burn fat quickly? John Smith Mii, FL

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A:

Spinning classes can help you burn fat quickly, depending on the kind of class the instructor is leading. Don't buy into the idea that low-intensity exercise (riding at a low heart rate or exertion level) is going to get you into a "fat burning" zone. The truth is, you burn fat at every intensity level, and when you exercise at a high and sustainable exertion level, like 70 to 75 percent of your maximum, you're burning a lot of calories and a lot of fat each minute.

One of the ways to boost overall caloric burn during a spin class—and this is something instructors are well aware of—is interval training. You may not be able to exercise at 80 percent of your maximum effort for 30 minutes straight, but you can accumulate 30 minutes at that intensity by breaking it into five six-minute intervals or three ten-minute intervals. By breaking hard efforts into smaller chunks and allowing for adequate recovery between efforts, you can maximize the calories and fat you burn while also gaining something far more significant: fitness.

You see, my biggest problem with some exercise classes out there is that they focus too much on burning energy (calories) and too little on what you're producing with that energy. If the instructor can only talk about burning calories, you're in a class where you're wasting energy. A good spin instructor will be able to tell you exactly how his or her workouts will build aerobic conditioning and build endurance. When a good spin class helps you gain real fitness, you develop the machinery in your muscles and cardiovascular system that allow you to burn even more fat and even more calories per minute. What's more, real fitness translates into real health benefits more directly than simply losing weight.

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