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How I Became A Computrainer Convert

Before all of the spin class instructors and pundits flame me, I want to say that this is not an anti-spin class blog. I just want to explain how I became a compu-trainer convert and why it works for me. I have been participating in triathlon for over 20 years and have been coaching for 3. Throughout my career, I have found that, when I am not signed up for a race, or not actively training FOR something, my fitness, and more importantly, my performance, tends to drop. It is only when I have concrete goals to train for that my performance actually improves. This is the difference between exercising and training. I am not trying to get fit, I am trying to get FASTER.

If you are looking to be generally fit, to improve your health, or even your waistline, there is no problem with exercise. It helps you burn calories, lose weight, improve cardiovascular fitness, and can even help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other “lifestyle” diseases. There are numerous ways to do this, and it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot about how you get this exercise. Whether it is in the weight room, the outdoor track, Pilates, step classes, spin classes, running, biking, swimming, or any other form of exercise you can find at your local YMCA, you will basically arrive at the same endpoint.

BUT, if you want to get FASTER, you need to TRAIN with a goal in mind. Randomly exercising will not get you there. Every session has to have a purpose (whether to increase aerobic base, threshold power, VO2 max, anaerobic fitness, hill climbing/running etc). You focus on weaknesses, or specific areas that apply to a race, group ride, summer track series etc. Things need to be planned out in advance within a larger training plan.

That brings us to using a computrainer vs spin classes (or other forms of exercise.) When I have participated in spin classes, I arrive in a workout studio, which have numerous spin bikes that all need to be adjusted for you. The instructor gets up in the front, and after a brief warmup, you start your main set. This often consists of an interval session where you ride at a set tension and cadence, have a rest interval, and repeat. This also may include a longer, lower intensity interval, and then a brief cool-down. This is all done while the spin instructor is yelling instructions through his/her microphone and there is techno-dance music blaring in the background (not that there is anything wrong with that.) The new spin bikes may give you a “wattage” readout, or some other form of “power”, but unfortunately, there is no way to put this in context. You may be red-lining it for 20 minutes on tension “20”, while your neighbor is cruising on that same tension. You may not be going hard enough on your short intervals. You would need to know your personal power zones to put this in any context. Usually there is no “goal” for that training session other than to work your “aerobic fat burning zone” and add some “high intensity intervals.”

On the other hand, with a computrainer;
-you use your own bike, which has been painstakingly fit to you (hopefully), and your own shoes
-you are pedaling to a specifically designed workout for that session. (training vs exercising)
-you are working out in your personally designed training zones, as is everyone else (based on your personal functional threshold power.)
-you have the experience of cycling and triathlon coaches, professional cyclists, and others who have put YEARS of cycling experience, training and education behind them.
-within a season, you have a progression of workouts designed to get you faster.
-Your instructors and staff have a vested interest in helping you reach your goals.
-You have the opportunity to ride real courses using Real Course Videos, such as ones from various Ironman races, and have the chance to practice on them before your race.
-You can even upload your own courses from your Garmin GPS.
-AND, you are surrounded by other cycling enthusiasts with the same goals in mind.


This is why I have seen a dramatic increase in my power and performance on the bike over the past season. And this is also why I expect to see continued improvement in the season to come.


To read Dr. Neuman’s other blogs, please visit http://www.tccmultisport.com/blog

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