Tom Scotto is the Program Director for Stage5 Cycling Incorporated and a Certified USA Cycling Coach. Tom asked if he could contribute to the discussion and offer his perspective on if you should incorporate jumps into your Spinning / Indoor Cycling Class profiles. Tom was a guest on Podcast #34 where we discussed his Indoor Cycling Certification Program
In summary, jumps (as Spinning and Schwinn) define them, should never be
done on an indoor bike. There are some dangers and misconceptions that can
help instructors understand why this is not an appropriate technique.
Let me start by saying, as a USA Cycling coach, my perspective is very
real-cycling focused. Regardless, I'm not a big fan of distinguishing
between and indoor (non-cyclist) and a outdoor cyclist, both of whom may
take an indoor cycling class. Both are riding a bike which require similar
biomechanics and technique with a few adaptations (I'll explain below). The
determining factor is the workout. A well defined, appropriate and
purposeful workout (with good music) will please any crowd regardless of
age, fitness or skill level.
I am in agreement with Jennifer Sage's definition of “real” cycling jumps.
Dead on. My issue lies with the non-cycling (Spinning, etc.) jumps.
Why NON-Cycling Jumps are potentially Dangerous
(1) Strain to the lower back (lumbar spine). When a rider stands on a real
bike, the bike moves backwards under the rider approximately 3-6 inches.
The better the rider's technique, the least movement. You may have noticed
this when riding close to a someone's back wheel. They stand to climb or
accelerate and now your front wheel is hitting or overlapping their rear
wheel (hopefully the later). THE PROBLEM: Indoor bikes don't move. When an
rider stands too quickly or forcefully on an indoor bike, stress is placed
on the lower back and spine because the force and momentum of the pedals
thrusts them forward. When sprinting or accelerating out of the saddle on
an indoor bike, riders should be instructed to smoothly come up out of the
saddle with the appropriate resistance BEFORE launching their effort to
reduce the force on the lower back.
(2) The Bike Doesn't Move (Part 2).
Because indoor bikes don't move SIDE to SIDE, a
rider can potentially stress hip and knee joints and strain upper body
muscles without proper technique. When a rider stands and pedals on a real
bike, the bike gently (and sometimes, not so gently) sways/rocks side to
side underneath the rider. This is proper technique and done to achieve
better mechanics between the legs and bike. If a rider stands and tries to
keep the bike from moving side to side, this will cause the upper body
muscles (shoulders, back, neck, biceps, chest, forearms, etc.) to contract
against the force. This unnecessary muscle contraction wastes energy
(fuel), uses oxygen, fatigues the muscles and, more importantly can strain
the muscles. Similarly, if a rider tries to stand and keep the bike still,
the mechanics of the legs will be hindered placing stress on the hips, knees
and sometimes the ankles and feet.
With that said (whew…), non-cycling jumps are too fast a movement to
compensate for the NON-MOVEMENT of the indoor bike. In addition, it is more
difficult to monitor a larger indoor cycling class to ensure everyone is fit
correctly to the bike and is using proper form and technique.
It Doesn't Teach Functional Technique
I appreciate using non-cycling jumps as a drill to
improve technique. Her examples of a tennis player, soccer player and
volleyball player are correct. However, this does not translate to cycling
for one reason – The Bike Doesn't Move. The tennis, soccer and volleyball
players are using the same equipment and functional movement required of
their sport. The movement on the indoor bike is not “functional” for the
purpose of non-cycling jumps because the static nature of the bike does not
promote proper, movement, reaction and bike handling out of the saddle. If
you are still not convinced, go outside on your real bike and do a few sets
of 2-second jumps (wear a helmet).
MISCONCEPTION: Standing on the Bike.
Riders in general (indoors and out) have a misconception about riding out of
the saddle and tend to stay seated as much as possible. I've encouraged my
indoor riders to watch at least one stage of
the Tour de France this year and observe how often riders stand. One will
notice that riders not only stand on climbs and to sprint and accelerate,
but they stand on flat roads and at lower intensities as well. I'm not
going to get into the different standing techniques, but let's just say
riders should be standing way more often than they do. One reason riders
will stand is to stretch the legs (they will often do this on flat sections
of road). It allows the leg (which cannot not fully extend seated) to
elongate and stretch the muscles keeping them from shortening from multiple
contractions. This year I coached a training camp with Tour de France
rider, Fred Morini (Gerolsteiner). He spent a good amount of time getting
riders out of the saddle and teaching them stretching techniques. I was even
challenged to get out of the saddle more (and I thought I stood a lot).
This can be a tough concept to explain, even to outdoor riders (and
instructors) because they are not often spending enough time out of the
saddle themselves. Standing technique needs to be better incorporated in drills and recovery.
MISCONCEPTION: We Need Variety
We don't need variety as much as we need real training. We (Stage5) have
over 40 different indoor workouts. Each with its own focus (training
effect), specific drills, music and charts. There is no mystery or magic
here. We are simply adapting outdoor workouts to the indoor cycling studio.
The workouts are designed to target different skill and fitness levels and
are appropriate to the time of year (periodization). Our riders will often
not get the same workout more than once in a 2-month period. Classes can vary
from focused training sessions (aerobic development, speed-biomechanics,
muscular endurance, explosive power, threshold, etc.), rides (rolling
terrain and famous routes), to race day events (Tour de France, local races
and the like). If an instructor does their homework and understands how to
lead their riders through the training session, ride or event, they will
please and motivate any rider, any age, skill or fitness level. That is the
beauty of indoor cycling.