How Does a Spinning Bike Work?

Burning Calories At High Rates

    Spinning bikes are specialized bicycles that are typically used for intense cardio training. In a gym, you can sometimes find specialized rooms that hold dozens of spinning bikes with rapidly sweating cyclists burning nearly 500 calories in an hour. The reason why spinning bikes can burn calories at a high rate has a lot to do with their design.

Spinning Bike Construction

    Spinning bikes are designed to hold a person's weight and rapid cycling motion, thanks to a combination of sturdy build and special wheel design. The spinning bike's only wheel is connected to a weighted fly wheel that has pedals attached to it. The tension on the wheel can be adjusted by a special knob located either in front of the seat on the frame or in the middle of the handlebar. The pedals have straps to keep the cyclist's feet in place during high speeds. There is no rear wheel, as the spinning bike is designed to be stationary. The body construction is made of extra-strong steel in order to handle the stress of continuous body position changes and speed changes. The seat is typically smaller than a regular bike's and is uncomfortable to many new riders.

Using the Spin Bike

    When a cyclist operates a spinning bike, he doesn't keep his butt in the seat and pedal. Many spin classes and training regimens are designed to mimic outdoor cycling through continuously changing terrain. Cycling class attendees receive instructions to stand up and cycle rapidly for specific intervals, and alternate from standing on the pedals to crouching atop the seat. This is known as "jumping" in spin class lingo. Cyclists will also change the tension on the flywheel to mimic anything from climbing hills to sailing down a rapid descent.

Adjusting the Spin Bike

    Since spinning bikes can take on different riders and go through normal wear and tear, instructors may ask you to adjust your bikes before beginning the class. You should make sure that you can fully stand on the spinning bike without causing extra strain on your arms or back. The pedal straps should be adjusted to where you don't feel numbness from over-tightening, or so loose that you could slip out. Other adjustments include ensuring that the tension knob properly adds or subtracts tension on the fly wheel without too few or too many turns.

About the Author

Paul Bright has been writing online since 2006, specializing in topics related to military employment and mental health. He works for a mental health non-profit in Northern California. Bright holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and a Master of Arts in psychology-marriage and family therapy from Brandman University.