Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spin to win..

When I was a Product Engineer (Guy who designs stuff) the sales guys loved to take me along when things were broken. Invariably there would be three or four vendors sitting around a conference table with the customer "suggesting" that it was broken because it was someone else's fault. They were being what I like to call "congress polite" (this is where I call you the distinguished gentleman, but also explain that you don't know your back pocket from a hole in the ground). I am analytical. I tend to listen to everyone's arguments before speaking, and not just to shoot holes in them. Generally speaking, in those situations I figured out what really was wrong, we’d get it fixed and the customer would be happy. What everyone forgets in those situations is the customer just wants their stuff to work. They don't care (really) whose fault it was.
Conversely, I was terrible at pre-sales meetings. If the customer could get away with buying a cheaper product, I'd suggest they do just that. Drove the sales guys nuts, but what they didn't see was: the truth gets you the sale, and generally several others. A fib only gets you one sale. It makes no sense to lie, particularly when the truth will ultimately work out for everyone.
So what does that have to do with fitness? Product endorsement.
I have endorsed several products in the many years I have run this blog, but those were products I purchased. There was no need for disclosure. The kind folks at Lemond have loaned us a spin bike to use in Kate's rehab. This post is to tell you folks why I jumped at the chance to add the bike to our tool kit. I am getting access to an amazing piece of equipment for free. I would not use anything I do not believe in on one of my athletes in general, an injured one particularly, and on my wife specifically. If you doubt that, then I worry that you spend too much time on the internet.
When we are dealing with an injured client the first thing we want to do is get a training effect systemically while maintaining the integrity of the injured area. The simplest way to do that is to keep it stable. The spin bike is great for this as you can condition around most injuries. You can position the seat and bars such that there is very little pressure on the upper body for shoulder and neck issues. Athletes with extremity injuries can rest on their elbows, and folks with lumbar spine issues can be positioned in a neutral alignment, and fixed there. All of this is while training any or all three energy systems.
A secondary advantage of the bike is the load that can be applied to the flywheel.
If applied correctly a client can work very hard with either very little speed: high load-low cadence (keeping them very stable) or very low load-high cadence (high work rate with very little tension) this is a huge benefit for working the anaerobic system while keeping the injured area fixed and the physical impact at zero.
For uninjured athletes the two tools I like are the spin bike and sleds like the prowler both allow the athlete to condition on 'off' days with little wear, and very controlled fatigue. There is no eccentric load on either so the athlete doesn't get sore. The major drawbacks to the sleds are: they take a lot of space.. a lot. People training out of small gyms it's not an option (unless you want to dodge traffic while behind a loaded sled in a hypoxic fog.)
For athletes who don't move very well, the push sled can be problematic as it requires spinal loading and it's difficult to coach people when they're moving all over the place.
The bike works great in both of these instances; you can load it up, or keep it quick and fast. You don't have to worry about space or movement quality as you can fix them in the correct position with the seat and bars and they don't move so if you need to correct as you go it’s easy enough just to give a poke, a prod and adjust how they're moving.
Finally doing longer pieces that train the aerobic system is nigh on impossible with the sled. Unless you have several miles of space to push the thing, it's just not plausible. I am not a fan of long slow distance work for fat loss, or power athletes, but those are not the only reasons why people train. Sometimes you do need to be aerobically fit.
For those reasons; when Matt offered the bike up for us to use I jumped all over it. I knew the product, and I knew exactly how I was going to use it. It was a slam dunk. Is it appropriate for everyone? No. There is not a single tool in fitness that is; anyone who tells you otherwise is probably selling something.

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