Q: I've followed your discussions concerning the relationship between weight training strength and climbing ability. I was a lousy climber no matter how many leg presses I did -- until I did spinning classes. The "climbing" workouts were killers, but now I'm a fairly good climber. Can these indoor workouts be done on a conventional trainer too? -- Howard C.
Dear Howard C.,
While the spin bike and your bike (and associated trainer) do both have handlebars, seats, and pedals and that alone might make any reasonable person guess that yes you can do the workout at home, you will be missing some key elements.
Your home may not have the stench of stale sweat like a spin class does. This may seem insurmountable at first, but invite a dozen of friends over for beers and turn your thermostat up as high as it will go. Try to get them to stay for a few games of charades, hopefully in no time your place will stink enough that you can move on to the next step.
To be really successful "spinning" at home, you will have to make sure you can sequester a bunch of New Age crappy music that really only motivates you when you're trying to look all cool to the girl beside you in the short gym shorts and string tanktop. Speaking of that, there won't be any hotties while you're on the trainer at home. Taking a spin class might make you marginally cool to them, sitting on a trainer at home is about as cool as being alone in your cabin in the woods (aka unibomber).
But most importantly, on the trainer at home people sometimes do rides that mimic the fun rides that they do outdoors. This may be hard to swallow. Spinners are used to an aerobics instructor who hasn't ridden a bike in years who tries to teach their class more like a step aerobics class than a bike ride. It may be hard to do "popcorn sprints" at home, where you stand and pedal and sit down and stand again and again and again so fast that you barely touch the seat, all the while trying to maintain 120-130rpm. But by all means try your best, you know how much that applies to real cycling!
That said, spinning is lame, do you really want to look like these people. There is this really fun thing called riding outside that is way better than spin classes. Just don't do it in a full Discovery kit on a Cervelo bike with PowerCranks, at that point you can just as well do the spin class. I hope that answers your question, next week I'll discuss why watching Tour de France videos while you ride the trainer is like masturbation.