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Physiologic Responses during Indoor Cycling

Battista, Rebecca A1; Foster, Carl1; Andrew, Jessica1; Wright, Glenn1; Lucia, Alejandro2; Porcari, John P1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 1236-1241
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318173dbc4
Original Research

Battista, RA, Foster, C, Andrew, J, Wright, G, Lucia, A, and Porcari, JP. Physiologic responses during indoor cycling. J Strength Cond Res 22: 1236-1241, 2008-During the last decade, there has been active interest in indoor cycling (e.g., spinning) as a method of choreographed group exercise. Recent studies have suggested that exercise intensity during indoor cycling may be quite high and may transiently exceed o2max. This study sought to confirm these findings, as the apparent high intensity of indoor cycling has implications for both the efficacy and the risk of indoor cycling as an exercise method. Twenty healthy female students performed an incremental exercise test to define o2max and performed 2 videotaped indoor exercise classes lasting 45 minutes and 35 minutes. o2, heart rate (HR), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured during the indoor cycling classes, with o2 data integrated in 30-second intervals. The mean %o2max during the indoor cycling classes was modest (74 ± 14%o2max and 66 ± 14%o2max, respectively). However, 52% and 35% of the time during the 45- and 35-minute classes was spent at intensities greater than the ventilatory threshold (VT). The HR response indicated that 35% and 38% of the session time was above the HR associated with VT. In 10 of the 40 exercise sessions, there were segments in which the momentary o2 exceeded o2max observed during incremental testing, and the cumulative time with exercise intensity greater than o2max ranged from 0.5 to 14.0 minutes. It can be concluded that although the intensity of indoor cycling in healthy, physically active women is moderate, there are frequent observations of transient values of o2 exceeding o2max, and a substantial portion of the exercise bouts at intensities greater than VT. As such, the data suggest that indoor cycling must be considered a high-intensity exercise mode of exercise training, which has implications for both efficacy and risk.

1University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin; 2European University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Address correspondence to Dr. Carl Foster,

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association