With fusion and combo classes attracting more and more students every day, here are some tips on creating an effective, efficient and safe fusion format combining strength and cardio in one session.
With the growing trend of fitness enthusiasts seeking a one-stop shop when it comes to exercise, many Spinning® facilities and instructors have started creating some incredible fusion classes. With the first half of the class comprising a Spinning ride, and the second half moving off the bike for a full body strength workout, the possibilities are endless. The extensive advantages of a strength and cardio hybrid delivered in an efficient amount of time, has given Spinning riders the extra conditioning without needing to find the extra time. These fusion sessions are kept safe by moving riders off the bike to a different space to execute exercises safely and effectively.
This is great for studios that have the additional space. But what if your studio or facility doesn’t have the space move riders from their bikes to another space or room for a safe fusion session?
Thankfully, there is always a solution…if we think a little laterally. Or should we say…sagittally.
Strength training takes place in three planes of motion: the sagittal (which means moving front and back), the frontal plane (which means moving left and right) and the transverse plane (which means moving up and down). Most strength exercises move on the sagittal plane, which is perfect for the narrow space between bikes. But the best strength programs move in all three planes of motion, so using another room or space away from the bikes is ideal.
While utilizing the space between bikes may not be ideal for big movements, a little extra planning and careful consideration of the exercises off the bike can create an amazing fusion class. In fact there are many ways you can create a safe and fun workout that your members and students will love without sacrificing safety, efficiency or effectiveness.
Keep It Safe
- Setup – Standing between bikes gives the participant enough space for sagittal plane exercises like lunges. They can also to perform most standing upper body exercises with free weights. For exercises that need a wider arm span (like lateral raises or chest flies), students can stand in front of or behind the bike. Of course, make sure that the bikes are positioned at a safe distance from one another before trying these exercises.
- Surroundings – Safety always comes first in a Spinning class. When space is limited, we need to be more mindful of how we ask people to move. Make extra reminders to riders to watch out for the pedals, handlebars and any other objects that may be close by (like weights on the floor) when we begin our exercises off the bike.
- Shoes – If people wear cycling shoes, these need to come off. Standing in cycling shoes especially on wooden floors or doing any type of exercise is a safety hazard. Cleats underneath the shoe can cause an imbalance when standing and riders can easily slip. There is also no flex in a cycling shoe that makes any type of lunge impossible for the foot to stabilize. Plus it’s of huge benefit to get people training barefoot to increase better proprioception. This is why it makes the most sense to complete 30 minutes of intensity on the bike, and 30 minutes of strength training off.
- Equipment – Dumbbells and bands are the easiest and safest type of equipment to use in a more confined space. Although this type of resistance may be a lighter load, the intensity can be increased with super sets, tri sets and hybrids combinations, as well as doubling the weight or doing the exercise on one side.
- Exercise execution – Be sure to rehearse and test out all your exercise combinations to ensure that there is adequate space to perform correctly without any obstruction of the bike or other people close by.
Make It Effective
- More Load & Intensity – Doubling up load onto one side is a great way to add more intensity in addition we get an additional benefit of extra core recruitment. Alternating bicep curls are a great example of this. Also encourage riders to increase the weight or bands where possible always ensuring good form first.
- Exercise choice – Compounds, isolations, hybrids, super sets, tri sets and having a clear plan on balance and exercises that are complementary for the posture as well as aesthetically beneficial. Also, keep in mind how you modify exercises according to space limitations. It can be tricky, but it is possible.
- Reps, Sets & Rest – Combinations, hybrids and the sequencing of exercises are all ways to manipulate intensity and effectiveness. Plan the strength sequence profile the same you would the ride portion and be sure to know what it feels like when you combine exercises together and that the overload you are creating is suitable for the level of your participants.
Make It Efficient
- Combinations & Rest – Most classes will have a ride at the start and finish with perhaps a 10-15 minute bodywork section at the end. However there are many combinations and versions of how a class is created between the ride and strength portion. Regardless of how the time is distributed, it is not typically very long; therefore, it is essential that we make the most of the time that is available. Combining exercises, using upper and lower body sequences and also limiting rest intervals are ways to make these sessions challenging, efficient and effective.
- Exercise Selection – Which exercises you choose are key to balance, effectiveness and meeting the needs of your class (not to mention the enjoyment!). Nobody really wants to do ten different versions of a tricep extension, so mix it up! Planning and having a clear focus or goal for your strength set is vital. In addition, consider having a routine or series of exercises that consists of balance between front and back, upper and lower of the body. Even standing core work is available.
- Upper & Lower Body – Although most people would not consider needing strength exercises for their legs off the bike, loading the legs post ride has some extremely positive training effects valuable not just to cyclists or triathletes, but also to general exercisers. Pedal strokes primarily tax the quads, so choosing target muscle groups such as the glutes and hamstrings can create some much needed balance in the legs. Being creative with your combinations of quad and hip dominant exercises can increase total energy expenditure of the workout. Squat variations, pulses, holds, front squats, glute activators, hip hinges…just to name a few. All can be done standing right next to the bike.
Keep It Simple
- Easy to Execute – Sometimes we can have the best intentions. But if people can’t keep up or are not familiar with tricky exercises, then it is better to use exercises that are easy to execute, teach and follow. So start with simple exercises like push ups, lunges or planks.
- Less is More – Simple and well-executed exercise is the aim. Sometimes this means doing fewer reps in a set or completing reps a lower weight. First evaluate your students’ form to make sure that they have the correct form before increasing the intensity.
- Plan Your Profile – just as you would have a profile for your ride, you also have one for the strength portion as well. Having music that is the right tempo and pace and cueing correctly will create a seamless execution from start to finish.