Spin and RPM Classes: How Many Calories Will I Burn?

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Amelia Phillips

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One of the most popular articles on this site has been Spinning Classes- 5 reasons why you need to learn to love them. I always get lots of questions about Spin and RPM like “will it make my butt look big?” and “how many calories does it burn?” So I have asked James Sutherland, an experienced RPM instructor and bike riding nut, to answer a few questions for us.

1. James, what, in your mind are the best benefits of spin or RPM classes?
[James Sutherland] Increasing cardiovascular fitness, is the biggest benefit. Of course along with that is weight loss and increasing overall tone of your body, in a single RPM class you can burn from 400 to 900 calories!

2. One of the biggest questions about spin class or RPM class is ‘Will my butt get big?’ or ‘Will my legs or calves get big?’ What’s your view on this?
[James Sutherland] Take one look at the riders in the tour de France. They spend hours riding a bike every day and there are no big buts there, but plenty of toned bodies. RPM will not give you a big butt but what you eat and drink after RPM might, so you should always avoid the fat crave and replenish your body with plenty of fluids and proteins.

3. How many spin or RPM classes maximum would you recommend people do per week?

[James Sutherland] I have always felt that 2-3 is the right amount, but if you can only fit in one that is still great!

4. What are a couple of riding tips for getting the most out of your spin classes, especially as your fitness levels increase?
[James Sutherland] Your first challenge is just to finish, but as time goes on look at trying to work harder each time. It might never get easier but your recovery will get faster. Lots of people use heart rate monitors and try to gradually increase their calories burnt

5. What is your preferred handle bar position? What do you recommend for beginners and advanced spinners?
[James Sutherland] Years ago I read that the best handle bar height was 2 – 5cm below your saddle. In the 25 years I have been riding bikes I have always found this to be true. Although if your riding for first time or if you have lower back trouble, equal to or higher than your saddle if fine. Where you feel comfortable, will always be the best place.

6. Any tips for preventing a sore butt?
[James Sutherland] Sit your bum right back in the saddle. The saddle is designed so you sit on you sitting bones, so pushing your butt back a little will help relieve pressure. Also remember there are millions of different bottoms but not millions of different shaped saddles, so try a gel seat protector if you can’t get comfy.

7. How many calories does a typical class spin or RPM class burn?
[James Sutherland] Research says about 400 to 900 and I have seen evidence of both ranges. To burn over 800 though you will have to ride hard.

8. Compared to other types of exercise, is RPM or spin a good way to lose weight? [James Sutherland] Its the best way to lose weight! Low impact, fun and effective what more could you want!

9. You are known as one of the best spin/rpm instructors around. What, in your mind is the difference between a good instructor and a great one? What should participants look out for?
[James Sutherland] You should look to be challenged and have experience that takes your mind outside of the confines of the 4 walls that the studio is in. Sure it’s going to hurt, but great things don’t come easy. Most of all you should look to have fun! A great instructor will make you forget about your problems and give you an experience that may just change your life (well for a little bit anyway)

10. You are also an avid cyclist. What kind of riding/racing do you do? Do you think spin classes benefit people who race or ride recreationally? Why?
[James Sutherland] I love all sorts of riding, but most of the racing I do is centered around mountain bikes. I race in longer endurance races and sometimes up to 24 hours, but also enjoy the shorter cross country format. I have also done a fair amount of bicycle touring before, and have dragged my wife around Tasmania. I think there are many benefits to RPM, particularly the intense interval format that the class has, this format helps to increase cardiovascular fitness and strength and because you are inside no problems with the weather.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and have your question answered.

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