What Muscles Do You Work in Spinning Class?

By Karen Sheviak

A spinning class is an exercise class in which a group of people ride stationary bicycles. Spinning can give you a great cardiovascular workout, but also strengthen your heart and several muscle groups in your legs, backside and core. If you're just starting out at spinning, be sure to use a heart rate monitor and learn your maximum heart rate: 220 minus your age. Your heart rate should be between 75 and 85 percent of that number in a spinning class.

Primary Muscles

The main muscles used in a spinning class are the quadriceps. These are the large muscles on the front of your thighs. When the class begins an incline, the quadriceps is the muscle that will power you through the segment. It pushes down on the pedal and straightens your leg. The hamstring, the muscle in the back of the thigh, also helps by lifting the pedal. If you want to strengthen these muscles so you can power through a spinning class more easily, try brisk walking, jogging, squats, lunges and jumping rope.

Supporting Muscles

The gluteus maximus and medius, the muscles in the backside, push forward on the pedal at the top of the stroke in a spinning class. Strengthening these muscles can help you improve your muscular endurance. Try some of the same exercises that strengthen the quadriceps, such as lunges and squats. The calf muscles also play a supporting role in a spinning class by transmitting the force from the quadriceps to the feet -- and by pushing through the lower part of the stroke when your toes are pointed. Exercise your calf muscles by doing calf raises.

Abdominal and Lower Back Muscles

The abdominal -- specifically the rectus abdominis and the obliques -- and lower back muscles play a role in almost any exercise you do, even though it's not always obvious. The abdominal muscles are important for balance, holding yourself up, getting through the incline part of the spinning class and maintaining your tempo. They stabilize the body so your quadriceps can put as much force as possible through to the pedal. Exercise these muscles by doing leg raises, crunches, pelvic tilts and back extensions.

The Heart

Spinning class is an effective cardiovascular workout, which means it is good for your heart and lungs. According to Harvard Health, a 155-pound person can burn up to 391 calories in 30 minutes. Spinning classes often use up-tempo music and even lighting to motivate the class to work as hard as possible.

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