Spin classes are a fitness phenomenon, and for good reason.
They’re upbeat and fun, with loud music, encouraging instructors, and a motivating group atmosphere.
You won’t have trouble pushing yourself hard during a spin class like you might if you were working out on a recumbent bike all alone.
Spin bikes also give you a great workout because they function differently than the recumbent bikes you’re used to.
They have something called a flywheel, which constantly spins and propels your feet forward.
Because your feet are moving fast the whole time, you’ll work your hamstrings harder and burn more calories than you would on a traditional stationary bike.
Depending on the type of class you take, you may also use hand weights to tone your arms and alternate between sitting and standing up on the bike, giving you an even more intense workout.
Now that you know what to expect from your first spin class, what kind of results will you get if you stick with it for the long haul?
In the first 1 month of spin classes, your mood, self-esteem and energy will likely improve. You may also notice physical changes like weight loss and better body composition, especially if you clean up your diet.
Your stamina will also start to increase and continue to get better as the weeks go on. After three months, your muscles will look more toned and you’ll continue to lose weight if you eat a healthy diet.
However, at the six month mark, your progress may plateau if you don’t switch up your routine and keep challenging your body.
To get a better idea of the results you can get from spinning in the short and long run, I spoke to a few fitness experts and personal trainers. Here’s what they had to say.
After a few weeks of going to spin class regularly, you may start dropping some pounds, especially if you’re watching what you eat.
According to Dr. Nicole Lombardo, physical therapist and CrossFit coach:
“Over the course of a month, you might notice an improvement in body composition. It takes 6-8 weeks for muscles to make true physiological changes and get stronger, but after 1 month you may notice you have lost a few pounds with these workouts.”
During an hour-long class, you’ll burn between 400 and 600 calories depending on how high you crank the resistance on your bike and how hard you push yourself.
If you go to three classes every week, you could burn as many as 1,800 calories. That’s enough to lose half a pound per week even if you don’t change your diet.
Add in healthy eating and you could shed even more pounds, making spin classes a great way to lose weight.
If you keep going to classes regularly, you’ll continue to drop pounds over the next few months.
But after six months to a year, you might start to plateau, says Dr. Lombardo. To keep making progress, you’ll have to mix up your workout routine.
Dr. Lombardo suggests upping the resistance settings on your bike and using heavier hand weights, while celebrity trainer Joey Thurman thinks you should incorporate other workouts into your routine.
“Spinning is great but it shouldn’t be your only source of fitness,” says Thurman.
“Start to incorporate cross training with a mix of weights, body weight, bands, yoga, and more to make sure you keep your body guessing.”
As long as you continue to challenge your body and up the intensity of your workouts, you’ll keep getting results from spinning.
Better mood and self-esteem
Starting a new fitness routine not only has physical benefits like weight loss, but also mental ones.
Going back to Dr. Lombardo:
“After 1 month of regularly taking spin classes (which I would say is 3-4 times a week), you may notice an improvement in mood and self-esteem.
“Short-term, exercise of any type can help improve mood as it releases endorphins—our body’s natural happy hormone. Combine this with a positive and energetic spin instructor, and you will feel great after a spin workout.”
As you power through your workouts and feel yourself getting stronger, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment that will improve your mood and self-confidence.
Many spin studios like Spiked Spin and SoulCycle also emphasize body positivity, which will give your self-image an extra boost.
Stronger, more toned muscles
Although your muscles won’t get stronger right away, you will notice significant strength gains after a few months.
According to Dr. Lombardo:
“At the 3-6 month mark, you might notice further weight loss in addition to toned muscles. This might be especially noticeable in the legs and glutes, which are the prime movers on the spin bike.
“If the spin class you take involves some upper body movements with weights, you might see your arm muscles tone up as well.”
Alternating between sitting and standing up on the bike also gives your abs a workout.
So after several months of classes, you may develop more core strength and even get a bit of a six-pack going if your diet is right.
Another benefit that you’ll notice down the line is improved endurance and stamina.
“As your body changes on the outside several weeks and months in you will start to have more cardiovascular stamina, recovery, energy, toned muscles that you didn’t know you had, and a better overall look,” says Thurman.
Studies have shown that spinning can significantly increase your VO2 max, which is an important measure of cardiovascular endurance.
A scientific review of thirteen studies showed that spinning for two to three days per week can increase your VO2 max by 8% to 10.5%.
Spinning is also a great way to increase your muscular endurance.
In a recent study, one group worked out on the spin bike for 16 weeks while the other exercised on a regular bicycle.
At the end of the study, the group that worked out on the spin bike performed better on physical fitness tests that measure muscular endurance like sit-ups and side-steps.
So if you’re hoping to improve your overall endurance, spinning is a great choice.
Taking spinning classes regularly can also lead to a healthier heart.
A Swedish study found that spinning triggers the release of blood chemicals associated with blood vessel repair and renewal.
These kinds of chemicals are typically seen in marathon runners and are a sign that you’re getting a great, heart-healthy workout.
Spinning is a great way to lose weight and increase your overall fitness.
In the first month, you may notice weight loss and mental changes like improved mood and self-esteem.
If you keep at it, your stamina will start to increase, your muscles will get stronger, and your heart health will improve.
You’ll also continue to lose weight and develop more muscle tone. You’ll look as great as you feel, and all of your hard work will have paid off.
Just don’t neglect your upper body — you’ll eventually want to attend spin classes that incorporate weight training like CycleBar or supplement your cycling with some weight lifting.