Spin Life Q&A | Educated Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Q“Is Climbing Making My Legs Bulky?”
One very common question I get asked from my students is, “Is climbing making me bulk up?” Whenever this question is posed to me I give a simple answer, “to ‘bulk up’ or build muscle, you need to work with high loads of resistance, low repetitions and to failure, or perform a long climb with heavy resistance.”
There are several profiles in the Spinning@ program that does include extended climbs, and by “extended,” I don’t mean they last hours, just more than most everyday climbs. However, the fact is that the Spinning® program is not structured to make you “bulk up,” and most climbs will not generate that result.
In the Spinning program, the primary goal is to build muscular endurance, rather than absolute strength or muscles mass. More often than not, students balk when it comes to resistance because it feels tougher and, as a result, do not progress. One way to encourage students to embrace climbing is by emphasizing its benefits: cardiovascular conditioning, strength and muscle tone.
Another explanation for this common fitness misnomer is that climbing at highly aerobic heart rates can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, which in turn improves the network capillary beds, enhancing blood flow to the skin and nerves at the skin’s surface. This physiological change can often be incorrectly identified as “bulking,” because it makes the skin feel more sensitive, thus making people more aware of your tighter fitting clothes.
In response to questions about tighter jeans, just let students know that it is extremely unlikely unless they’ve been weight training to “bulk up.” The more plausible answer is that pair of jeans they love so much might be getting tighter, but Spinning is not the cause. Bottom line: your muscles take on the conditioning effects of the energy system that you train in, and the Spinning program very rarely takes riders through the energy system that could – “could” being the key word – lead to any sort of bulk. Keep climbing without the fear of “bulking up,” and above all, #EnjoytheRide!