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Anonymous's picture

I went to a NYSC spinning class yesterday, in which the teacher instructed people NOT to contract their abs and to keep a loose c-shape over the bike. Her explanation was that contracting the abs inhibits deep breathing. This (abs, not the rest) is counter to anything I have ever heard in a spinning class before.


Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Belly breathing for bikers

That's what Cristy's doing on the home page. And you thought he was just overweight, huh?

Anonymous's picture
Stephen (not verified)
Spinning (Belly breathing)

Maybe your instructor was not totally wrong (For example, in karate and other martial arts, you use belly-breathing but you keep your abs contracted.)


One has to strike a balance between the contractions and relaxation. When you push hard on the pedals, you also try to relax the legs. I think it's the same idea.


Anonymous's picture
Michael S (not verified)
Loose C shape

While there may be a breathing benefit to loose abs there is a loss to the C shape. A flat back opens the lungs. When climbing, particularly in Spin I stay seated most of the time and climb at cadence... regardless of what the instructor instructs, and you know the road cyclists from the spinners in that we're all doing the same.

Anonymous's picture
Nathan (not verified)

well no matter what you are gonna use your abs to some extent. The idea is to belly breath but yeah there is gonna be some muscle contraction no matter how hard you try to not contract them.

I think the instructor is on the right track and is probably more knowledgable then most from what you say. But they can't go into legnthly details on certain subjects. You got to dumb it down for the masses ya know.

I have been asked more then once to instruct spin classes at my gym but I refuse. Honestly don't feel most would want to spend an entire hour focusing on breathing which would probably be exactly what I would have them do until I felt they had it down. For the most part instructors are there to entertain the class. Only a very small percentage are interested in actualy learning anything and those people probably already know more then most instructors to start with and are found in the back of most classes doing there own thing.

To this day I have never seen anyone actualy do a sprint in a spin class. I see people turning pedals fast but not sprinting. I would like to think I could see a real sprint before I die(in a spin class).

I do tend to do alot of standing on some spin classes. I agree it's wasted energy but it does build up other muscles and teach you to stabilize your body while cycling. Lets face it you are gonna stand at some point on a bike. May as well know how, also doesn't hurt my running.

Anonymous's picture
Ed (not verified)

Like most spinning instructors, she doesn't know what she is doing. Most want yout to grind. This is a new twist.

Anonymous's picture
ja (not verified)

Thanks for the replies! Two more questions:

- This particular instructor is also really into long, high-resistance, seated climbs and very actively discourages standing. It just doesn't feel right! She claims that staying seated builds more strength. Isn't it better, at high resistance, to stand and use both sides of the legs?

-Has anyone taken classes with this instructor? Her name is Caroline and she teaches many classes at the 62 St. NYSC.

Anonymous's picture
Steve Baccarini (not verified)
she's right

Thats the concept of most cycling coaches. Standing wastes alot of energy.Unless it's a very short and steep climb you're better of staying seated at a low cadence that keeps you below your threshold ( where you essentially run out of breath). When you finally see the top then you can stand last stretch if you like. It hurts..

Anonymous's picture
Clay (not verified)

This spinning instructor is a keeper. Most instructors have you out of the saddle an inordinate amount of time. I've always attributed it to customer demand. Most spinners do not ride bicycles and can't stand too much saddle time; plus many don't wear cycling shorts.

On the abs issue: the spinning instructor manual acutally discourages any instruction to tighten the abs. And the reason is the one already cited: it interfers with deep breathing.

Anonymous's picture
Zoop (not verified)
She's mostly right except for C-shape thing.

Seated climbing = less muscle groups used, usually lower cadence, lower HR and less power as compared to Standing.

Standing will obviously do the opposite - generate higher power, HR etc. Neither is wrong. You use the technique that best fits the situation and your riding style.

For long climbs <1 typically, lighter riders (roberto heras) tend to stand more bigger riders (Jan Ullrich) tend to sit more. However, both riders will stand and sit when they have to - Ie short burts to keep up with an accelleration.

I would say its good for a spinning instructor to have class participants work on both.

Re: C-shape thing - none of the competing fit or position people say to have a rounded back - you lose power of glutes that way!!! So that is way off.

Hope this helps,


Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
old thread on topic



Also, since you are paying for the class, you *can* take a place in the back row and do things a bit different.

If an instructor calls you on it during class, I'd follow instructions so as not to disrupt the class, but then talk to them about it afterwards. (""I'm working on seated climbs"", ""Jumps make me nauseous."", etc.)

Instructors get graded on how many people sign up for their classes."

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