Welcome to Revolutions' spINFO, an information and idea resource to support your fitness revolution. As a community forum for Revolutions Riders, helpful comments and dialogue are encouraged. Thanks!

How Are You Spending Your Calorie Burn?

august 29 2014

When Too Much Is Too Much
may 12 2014

You ask yourself, "When I load on as much gear as I possibly can and strain every fiber of my being to slowly grind the pedals round, I'm getting a great workout and burning more fat and calories, right?" ANSWER: Wrong.

We were recently chatting with a rider who was telling us about a spin class her friend invited her to. Surprising to her was how heavy the instructor wanted the class to ride, encouraging them to load on more and more "gear." The idea being "the heavier the better."

While this may "feel" like you are getting a more intense workout, you're not. When the resistance is cranked up so high that you can not sustain a cadence of at least 55-60 RPM, the only thing you are increasing is the chance for injury, not the benefits. All that "gear" limits your muscles' ability to perform at their peak so you actually burn less calories and fat. It's not "beast mode" – frankly, it's an easy way for a lazy instructor to make their class seem "hard" and for you to hurt your knees.

"But sweat is popping off my forehead," you counter, "and I'm pushing with everything I've got … that's got to be doing something?"

Yes, you’re expending energy, but you’re not getting the optimum benefits. Think about it: what if you went to a gym and the trainer told you to spend 20 minutes trying to deadlift 1,155 pounds. Sure, you'd break a sweat and feel exhausted, but unless you're strongman Zydrunas Savickas all you'll get out of that exercise in futility is a bad back.

See for yourself in our demo video – "When Too Much Is Too Much." Anyone can push you "hard" – training hard AND smart is what makes a workout revolutionary and gets you MORE of what you're spinning for. Bottom line, if you're investing time and money into a class, you should be offered the opportunity to get the most out of it.

The Highs & Lows of Cadence
august 14 2013
During a spin class, the cadence at which you pedal (i.e. your Revolutions Per Minute) may range from a high of 115+ RPMs to a low of 55 RPMs. Beyond creating variety over the course of an hour class, instructors have a reason for doing this, right? They should, and if instructors understand the benefits both cycling styles provide, they can effectively incorporate high-cadence and low-cadence drills into workouts that maximize your fitness benefits.


High Cadence vs. Low Cadence

To distinguish what High is versus Low, let's simplify the difference as "fast" being a sustained cadence of 90+ RPMs, and "slow" being anything below 90 RPMs. What drives this is how much resistance you have against the wheel. Low cadence cycling means you've turned that red knob to the right and the heavier resistance requires a slow and steady pedal stroke. Conversely, RPMs are higher when cycling at high-cadence because resistance is lighter ... though you still have resistance dialed on: NO freewheeling at Revolutions Cool.

While we each may have a preference based on physique and fitness level, both styles offer benefits. High cadence with lighter resistance works your cardiovascular and respiratory systems and puts less strain on your muscles. This is a preferred style of riding for many endurance competitors, such as long-distance triathletes, who need to maintain muscular performance over extended periods (i.e. bike 112 miles AND THEN run a 26.2 mile marathon). Great if you want to build aerobic capacities, though not as effective building muscle and burning max calories in a short period (i.e. a one-hour class).

Which leads one to correctly assume that low cadence riding puts greater emphasis on your leg muscles, which typically requires higher energy output (i.e. "big" watts) burning more fat & calories. However, more muscle strain increases torque on your knees and joints, and unlike your heart & lungs that tend to withstand greater pounding and recover quickly, muscles fatigue faster and take longer to recharge.

The High & Low of It
A properly balanced training program should deliver effective combinations of both. For example, while riders with strong legs may prefer pedaling "slow" against high resistance, they still need to do high-cadence work to further increase VO2 max and train their legs for faster accelerations. Each of us has our strengths, though it is training and pushing weaknesses that ultimately make us stronger. Take the opportunity to work in both ranges, and you will enjoy greater benefits overall. 
Revolutionize Your Ride
june 14 2013

We've come a long way from that stiff old stationary bike with the beach cruiser seat on it that collected dust in the corner of Aunt Betsy's guest room. In addition to superior ergonomics, many of today's indoor cycles collect and report a variety data in real time to help instructors and riders maximize training.

Different bikes and different instructors use different metrics (i.e. data) to lead and achieve results. At Revolutions we focus on RPM training. This means we work from leg speed (a rider’s Revolutions Per Minute or "pace") and load resistance against that pace to build strength and burn calories. For riders familiar with stationary bikes that have a "gear" reading, working with RPMs can be different, which has led some to ask us what makes RPM training more effective.

Why RPMs
For anyone who has ridden an 18-speed or 21-speed bike, the idea of "gear" is familiar. It is understandable, then, why seeing "gear" on an indoor cycle's console feels comfortable. When an instructor uses gear commands to lead a class it's "easy" because then riders believe "I know where I’m supposed to be at." Theoretically sounds great, and if we were all built exactly the same with identical fitness levels at all times, "gear" could be a useful training metric … but we're not.

Think about it. When a gear-reliant instructor tells a class "I want you at gear 15," that's an easy direction to give, but what does it mean to ALL of the riders? "Gear 15" for an unconditioned rider who has never taken a spin class before is a completely different exertion point than for an optimally trained, veteran cyclist. It's like weight training Pee Wee Herman and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the same time and saying, "Ok, guys, both of you go rack up 200 pounds on the bench and give me ten reps." Not ideal for either.

At Revolutions we prefer effective over easy. With RPM-based training, when an instructor says, "Tune that resistance in – you’re pushing 80 RPMs at 90% of your capacity for the next 60 seconds," riders of all levels can take that direction and apply it to themselves to maximize their workout and results. It is exactly this sort of dynamic training that makes a proper spin class so unique – the energy of a group with instruction each rider can personalize.

Yes, this style requires a little more focus from both instructors and riders, but from our perspective that's a good thing. There are plenty of mindless activities out there, though how you condition and take care of your body should not be one of them. Thoughtless actions are how we get out of shape and unhealthy – giving the most important possession you have (i.e. your health) proper attention is essential to revolutionizing your fitness.

Feed Those Sore Muscles
april 16 2013
Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

In this pill-poppin' day and age, the initial instinct for many of us at the first sign of an ache or soreness is to reach for a bottle of pain relievers. While there may be those days after a particularly hard workout where you feel nothing but a couple little blue pills will do, regularly reaching for walnuts, fresh berries and other foods on the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid may alleviate the need for Aleve and other over-the-counter medications.


Healthy foods are the cornerstone of healthy living, and for those prone to inflammation and soreness, it is important to take a good, hard look at your diet. Working with your health professional, you want to analyze your calorie distribution, how much of your diet is comprised of processed & fast foods, your daily water intake, where your protein is coming from, and how much fiber you are getting. Since everyone is different, it is not until you understand your diet as it stands today that you can effectively make changes that will benefit you tomorrow. With that understanding, following are some strategies & foods we have pulled from the work of Dr. Andrew Weil and others that can naturally help combat muscle soreness, fatigue and inflammation.


Calorie Distribution

With inflammation being at the root of many health issues, Dr. Andrew Weil developed an Anti-Inflammatory Diet which calls for 40/50% of your calories to come from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 20/30% from protein. As you can see from the food pyramid developed for this diet (CLICK for full view), critical are the sources of carbs, fat and protein. Overall you want to minimize/eliminate processed and fast foods while choosing those with a low glycemic load.


Anti-Inflammatory & Soreness Fighting Foods:

  • Tart Cherries, Pineapple, Papaya and Ginger contain compounds that can help decrease pain & soreness after high-intensity exercise.
  • Cottage Cheese contains branch-chain amino acids to help muscle tissue and is rich in Vitamin D to combat joint pain.
  • Dark, Leafy Greens along with Orange & Yellow Fruits not only give you fiber, but are also packed with essential Vitamins like A and C which aid in the growth and repair of body tissues. 
  • Beans, Soy Beans and Nuts to get the protein you need for muscle repair & growth without the bad cholesterol many animal proteins are laden with.
  • Whole Grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
  • If you cook with oil, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil as often as possible.
  • Wild Salmon, Walnuts and Flax Seeds to get Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your diet which studies have shown to alleviate joint pain and stiffness.
While we prefer taking two handfuls of cherries to combat soreness versus two pills (or drinking CK Organic Juices that contain the types of foods listed above, e.g. spinach, kale and pineapple), consult your health care professional before making any dramatic diet changes. Find out what's right for you and then make the right choices. Eat well. Ride strong.
The Legend of The Big-Legged Spinner
march 24 2013

Our nine year-old is fascinated by tales of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Florida’s own Skunk Ape. “Do you think they’re real?” he asks, and while we can’t say with absolute, 100% certainty these creatures don’t exist, there’s a high degree of certainty the answer is “No” (though they do make for great SyFy Network movies).


And so it is with The Legend of The Big-Legged Spinner. Yes, we have heard it said that the reason some folks take just one spin class a week or ride with light resistance against the wheel is because they are afraid their legs and/or thighs will get “bigger.” Well, just as the odds of a Hominid Cryptid interrupting your next Everglades adventure are non-existent, so too are the chances that too much indoor cycling will bulk your legs up.


Now, we could go through a whole bunch of discussion on the differences between exercises that build muscle mass versus activities that lean & tone muscle (i.e. a spin class), though let’s keep it simple. Meet Kristin Armstrong, Evelyn Stevens and Shelley Olds (see photos below). These ladies were all members of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Cycling Team, and as you might imagine, they ride quite a bit … and at rather high intensity levels. How do their legs look?

So while balance is certainly very important to an effective fitness program – which could mean mixing three to four spin classes a week with strength and flexibility training (e.g. weights, pilates, yoga, boot camp training, etc.) – you don’t need to limit your spin class schedule for fear of “Hulking” your legs out. Be warned, however, that there is a scenario where your legs can get bigger: your diet is unhealthy and you tone muscle on top of the fat you have. The solution to that problem, however, is not limiting your time on a bike but limiting something else.

Don't Wrist It
march 6 2013
Revolutions Cycling Studio Jupiter spINFO
Avoid wrist discomfort by staying neutral and relaxed when In & Out of the saddle
If during or after a spin class you feel tension, numbness or discomfort in your wrists and/or forearms, odds are a form flaw is to blame. Specifically, there are two culprits to consider:
  1. Leaning forward on your handlebars and putting weight on your hands & wrists
  2. Bending your wrists and "gripping" the handlebars (see photo illustration)
Fix your form and that should quickly fix the problem. As Dr. Robert Manning shares in this article, there are also preventative steps you can apply from cycling to help you avoid wrist discomfort:
  1. Periodically change hand position, i.e. move your hands around
  2. Avoid excessively high saddle position
  3. Ride with elbows slightly flexed and relaxed
  4. Stretch out your hands on and off the bike


If you ever experience any type of discomfort before, during or after class, please let your instructor know so we can offer suggestions or references. Of course, your best source of info is going to be your doctor. 
WATTs Right For Me?
feb 22 2013

You ride at Revolutions and see "Watts" prominently displayed at the top of our training consoles. Throughout class the number goes up and down, though what it is measuring and why it matters may not be clear. Also unclear is how this info can help achieve goals. More than any other "number" you see, Watts are the most accurate measure of how hard you are working. When you understand how to train with them, you have an extremely effective tool to target your fitness revolution.

What Watts Tell You
Watts are immediate feedback on what happens when resistance is added (i.e. turn the red knob right) and/or RPMs increased (i.e. pedal "faster"). Your wattage output - which is your rate of energy conversion, or "workload" - increases with effort level and greater effort requires more energy (i.e. more calories burned). Because the value is constant, Watts can be averaged for an hour spin class and those averages then compared over time to determine how a rider's fitness level is improving. For example, if a beginning rider were to start with an average of 120 watts for a 60-minute class, and after a few weeks see that average rise to 150 watts for an hour ride, fitness has clearly improved since the rider is able to work harder over the same amount of time.
Watts Your Target
We're frequently asked, "What should my average Watts be?" and frankly there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. While the general training range is considered to start around 100 (low effort) and top at 500 (extremely high effort), the correct target for you is based on gender, fitness level and body weight. All have to be considered in order to establish wattage training targets for each individual, so that's just "watt" we have done.
Based on the work of authors Andrew Coggan and Hunter Allen in their book Training & Racing with a Powermeter, we created the table below to provide average watt target ranges for a 60-minute indoor cycling class. These targets are broken out for Women and Men based on body weight and fitness level/cycling experience. In their book, Coggan and Allen calculated out from five seconds to 20 minutes, and so using our own mathematical assumption and experience, we have extended the formula out to 60-minutes ... point being, this is a reference point and not an absolute. 
Please also note what the descriptions "Unconditioned Rider," "Average Rider" and "Above Avg. Rider" mean. The first is someone who has been out of fitness, not working out regularly and new to cycling/spin. The second is considered to be a person who rides two-three times a week as part of a regular fitness program and generally in decent shape. The "Above Average Rider," though not a professional cyclist, is very fit and on a serious training schedule. Just to put things in perspective, a world-class cyclist is able to sustain 500+ watts for more than 20 minutes at a time and can average over 400 watts for hours ... so don't worry, there's always a next level to achieve.
Of course, if you have any questions or want to get a more targeted reference point specific to your body weight and fitness level, please ask next time you're in the studio. As the saying goes, "The more you know ..." 
Gimme Five
feb 1 2013

With January in the books, hopefully you’ve established a sustainable fitness routine that can serve you all year long (keyword: SUSTAINABLE). For many, this is the most challenging aspect of all: instituting a personal fitness program that is both maintainable and effective. Too often folks fall on either side of the mark, undertraining and not achieving their full potential (thus getting discouraged & quitting) or overtraining and quickly burning out.

So, just how frequently should you exercise and what should you do? A well-balanced, weekly fitness program should include five active days and two “rest” days. While you need to find the mix that is most effective for you (which is why we recommend using a workout planner LIKE THIS to stay on top of things), a solid foundation to build from is three-four days of Cardio and two-three Strength Training sessions. This should be complemented by Stretching which you can enjoy every day. A typical week might look like:

DAY ONE: 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous Cardio exercise such as swimming, running or indoor cycling (our favorite). Five to ten minutes of Stretching (spend two-three minutes on each muscle group), and if you need suggestions, CLICK HERE for 120+ stretching exercises to get you started.

DAY TWO: Strength Training Session that includes eight to ten different exercises (doing at least one set of each) and covers all the major muscle groups (i.e. Legs, Chest & Back, Shoulders & Arms and Core). No weights? No problem – CLICK HERE for 50 Bodyweight Exercises that are extremely effective for strength, balance and flexibility.

DAY THREE: Rest Day (vital for body and mind). This means no “official” exercise, though a nice stroll or playing in the park with the kids is fine. Do take five to ten minutes for some quiet, relaxed stretching.

DAY FOUR: Ideally, start the day with five to ten minutes of relaxed stretching. For your official workout, 45-60 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise and a modified strength training session (just four to five different exercises).

DAY FIVE: 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise and ten+ minutes of stretching … great time for a yoga class (though don’t go too intense, especially if you’ve never tried it before).

DAY SIX: 45-60 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise, a full strength training session and five-ten minutes of relaxed stretching.

DAY SEVEN: Rest Day … relax and get ready for next week.

EVERY DAY: Eat Smart. By some estimates, Diet is 70% of fitness and weight loss success. Your meals (both pre- and post-workout) need to support your exercise program. For instance, if you’re planning intense exercise, the calories your body burns for fuel can breakout as much as 87% from carbohydrates and 13% from fat. Conversely, with moderate exercise the calorie split may be more around 43% from carbs and 57% from fat. Plan accordingly.

You also cannot afford to miss meals. Eating every few hours actually keeps your metabolic rate strong and steady, and that is what you need to lose fat and build muscle. “Skipping” breakfast or lunch to “save calories” can actually lower the metabolic rate, negatively impact the effectiveness of a workout since the body does not have the fuel it needs to power through, and cause binge eating later in the day. So plan your meals like you plan your workouts: don’t forget eight or more daily servings of fruits & veggies, drink plenty of water, and don’t hit the carbs heavy at night since your body does not have the ability to burn them when inactive (i.e. you’re sleeping … which you also need plenty of).

Post-Workout Weapon

jan 15 2013

As we encourage and Spinning® recommends, drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout (at least 40 oz. in total) is vital to support your muscles and performance. Beyond water, there's another drink you should make a part of your fitness & diet plan: PROTEIN SHAKE.
Most of us know protein is what the body needs after working out since it provides amino acids to rebuild muscles broken down in resistance exercise AND helps build enzymes your body needs to adapt to endurance activities such as indoor cycling. When and How Much protein you should consume, however, may not be as clear. As this article on suggests, "when you work out your muscles are primed to respond to protein ... and you have a window of opportunity to promote muscle growth." Ideally, that means you are ingesting 10g - 20g of protein within 30 minutes of your workout, and the quickest way to get that protein to your muscles is in a smoothie or shake since your body begins absorbing liquids in about a half-hour versus the two-three hours it takes to break down solid foods. 
Back at the Revolutions Test Kitchen (as some in our household will caution, strong emphasis on "Test"), we have developed two non-dairy, plant-based protein smoothies that are quick, easy and tasty. DISCLAIMER: "tasty" is not an opinion universally shared around the Test Kitchen ... in truth, only John thinks these are truly "tasty" (probably since he's the smoothie-ologist who concocted them) ... so by all means tweak, sample, modify and make these your own. If you come up with improved versions, please comment below, and if you have other recipes to share, post them for all to enjoy. Thanks!       

Revolutions Pumpkin Powerhouse

Carbs(g) Calories Fat(g) Protein(g)
15 oz. can of pure pumpkin 31 140 2 7
15 oz. of Vanilla Almond Milk 32 180 5 2
Pumpkin Pie Spice - - - -
3 heaping TBSP of
Nutritional Yeast Flakes
7.5 90 1.5 13.5
2-3 handfuls of ice cubes - - - -
One medium banana 26.9 105 .4 1.3
TOTAL: 97.4 515 8.9 23.8
The Mix:
Put all ingredients in a 40 oz. blender and top with a couple hearty dashes of Pumpkin Pie Spice. Blend to desired, smooth consistency. Stop a couple times during mix to stir with spoon so Yeast Flakes evenly blend throughout. Makes two 20 oz. servings.

This smoothie packs a whole lot of pumpkin, i.e. if you like the taste of Cucurbita, you'll be happy. If you prefer a milder flavor, use just 1/2 to 3/4 of the canned pumpkin and add four large strawberries (if possible, use Florida's finest from Plant City). This not only cuts down on the pumpkin punch, it also adds a touch more sweetness those "acquring" a taste for Nutritional Yeast Flakes will appreciate.

Revolutions BLUE Monster

Carbs(g) Calories Fat(g) Protein(g)
2 cups of Blueberries 43 168 .8 2.2
12 oz. of Vanilla Almond Milk 24 135 4 1.5
4 heaping TBSP of
Nutritional Yeast Flakes
10 120 2 18
3-4 handfuls of ice cubes - - - -
One medium banana 26.9 105 .4 1.3
TOTAL: 103.9 528 7.2 23

The Mix:
Put all ingredients in a 40 oz. blender and mix to desired, smooth consistency. Stop a couple times to stir with spoon so yeast flakes evenly blend throughout. Makes two 20 oz. servings.

Be advised, those new to Nutritional Yeast Flakes may want to start with just three heaping tablespoons, though that will cut total protein down by 4.5 grams. Alternatively, if you don't mind some dairy in your diet, cut the yeast flakes in half and add a 6 oz. container of Chobani low-fat plain yogurt. A 6 oz. container of Chobani's Plain Greek Yogurt boasts 17g of Protein and 130 calories, which in this recipe will add 70 more calories to the blender (or 35 more per serving), while overall protein increases to 31g total.

Just in case you're wondering how these smoothies compare to say, a Big Mac, while the burger is comparable in Protein (25g) and Calories (550), the Big Mac is king in the areas of Sodium (1,000mg - 42% of DV), Total Fat (29g - 45% of DV) and Saturated Fat (10g - 50% of DV).
The GEAR Truth
jan 3 2013

Riders regularly ask if there is a "secret" to getting the most out of indoor cycling. What is the fastest way to build cardio & leg strength? How can I burn more calories per class?


As this video demonstrates and the photos below detail, the "secret" is not spinning your legs like a gerbil on speed or any other carnival trick. The answer, as knowledgable instructors will tell you (and design their training sessions around), is right in front of you.

GEAR - Greater Effort Against Resistance

Click on an image below for comparative detail and GEAR benefits.

Revolutions Cycling Studio Jupiter Mpower Console
Revolutions Cycling Studio Jupiter Mpower Console
BEWARE, however, of the opposite extreme that just turns the resistance all the way up and grinds. Too much gear and you hit a point of diminishing return where all that effort only increases stress & strain on knees and lower back. Effectiveness comes with a structure and balance that well-studied instructors know - to see for yourself, book a class at Revolutions now. After all, if you're going to spin your wheels, the effort should get you somewhere.