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Athlete Lab Sessions vs. Spinning Classes/Studios – The Hard Truth

It’s time we tell you why you need to say goodbye to the disco lights and hype of spinning studios and big-brand gym-spin classes.

We look into why riding an actual bicycle, or in this case, an Athlete Lab Adjustabike, offers better training benefits over the typical stationary bike often seen in ‘big-brand name gym’ spinning classes and ‘other indoor cycling studios’.  Our system was developed to train Olympic athletes train for gold medals on the track and road so we know it rules but here’s some basic info behind why you should be in the Lab:

1. We Quantify Your Training
Any session in the Lab allows athletes to check the amount of work (watts) they are really generating and our system is calibrated every day and resistance adjusted 100 times a second on each bike during rides to generate scientifically accurate results. Other metrics such as averages, maxes, speed, distance, heart rate, and number of calories expended can also be displayed. No more second-guessing or vague ‘going by feel’ with a resistance knob; the system tells you exactly how much power you are producing, and displays it instantly.

Additionally, we generate a post-session report that is uploaded to a central server, then emailed to the athlete and/or synched with their online training or social media accounts, allowing staff, coaches, and athletes to track training performance out of the Lab.

2. No Flywheel
Adjustabikes have NO flywheel, which means no reliance on momentum from a heavy, fast-spinning metal disc to keep your RPMs (cadence or revolutions per minute of your legs) up.  All resistance is generated by the load generator in contact with the bike’s rear wheel. This gives a sensation of pedaling that is as close to the genuine road feel of an actual bicycle on the road; and your muscles are activated and conditioned accordingly. A direct-drive flywheel is, effectively, unnatural assistance, and forces your muscles to fire in an unnatural way.

Some fancy expensive spin bikes have attached a power meter and claim to be the ideal solution for indoor training (sure – what’s happened to your gears guys?) . We ask: when was the last time you saw a pro rider warm up on a spin bike?

3. Master Technique
Adjustabikes have an actual bicycle rear wheel; this means a functioning free hub that allows riders to coast/stop pedaling completely instead of being caught up in the momentum of an out-of-control flywheel when one should be resting on a proper recovery interval.

This, plus the fact that the bikes sport fully-functioning 2×10 road bike transmissions, put the athlete firmly in charge of cadence control. Correspondingly, even when indoors, they are able to hone real-world cycling techniques: from basics such as shifting gears and one-leg drills, to more advanced workouts like over-gearing and maximal-effort sprinting.

4. Better Q-factor & saddles
Scientific research has proven that a narrower Q-factor (the distance between pedal attachment points) leads to greater efficiency as it mimics the almost in-line human footstep. This primarily is due [here's the science bit!] to better mechanical application of force through the pedal stroke, as well reduced knee tracking variability (and thus, reduced injury risk). Adjustabikes use standard 73mm bottom bracket shells and regular production cranksets, like those found on most road bikes.  Spin bikes don’t.

Saddle design also plays a part in pedaling efficiency and maintaining hip/knee alignment. Adjustabikes can be fitted with a wide variety of saddles – although our default choices are slim-fitting, race-proven designs from premium saddle manufacturers Fizik and Selle Italia – allowing unrestricted, seamless up-down movement of the athlete’s legs in comfort.

Compare this to the wide, non-standard crank geometry and extra-wide cushioned saddles of the typical spinning bike – no comparison!

5. No Cheating!
The numbers on-screen tell the truth; workout intensity is not managed with the arbitrary turn of a scale-less knob or mysteriously random “effort’ scores on a disco wall, but with real-time computer readouts. Power-based training does not mean the athlete won’t be allowed ‘take it easy’ – it means that staff and coaches can monitor performance data more closely and can advise/motivate athletes with higher degrees of accuracy and safety. If someone is feeling down / having an ‘off-day’ – or conversely, feels super-strong and wants to work harder – the intensity can be individually scaled to match – and the workout is thus optimized on-the-go for that athlete.

But you already knew all this of course!
You need to share what we know with anyone else you know who is still caught in the ‘spinning trap’. Get them on an Adjustabike and we can show them why we are different, more efficient, and better when it comes to performance cycling training.

Book in for your first indoor lab session here.