Self Magazine: Spinning Does NOT Bulk Your Thighs

By Jennifer Sage On January 18, 2014 Under Contraindications, General Fitness and Health

Spin ClassDid you know that Spinning makes you fat?! While this ridiculous claim isn’t anything new, it started up again last fall with Harper’s Bazaar, then Redbook in early January (quoting the dubious Tracy Anderson), then a hyped-up media waterfall including the Daily Mail, ABC, Today and Good Morning America—and probably many more that I don’t know about—all squawking that Spinning makes you fat or gives you bulky thighs. All wrong of course.

So it was refreshing when a mainstream popular magazine actually got it right! It’s funny though, they consider this an “exclusive”, and that only Self knows the truth! Oh well, I’ll let them think that, as long as they print more articles like this.

I’ve reprinted the article in full below, or you can read it here. And stay tuned, because I’ve got a lot more to say on this subject in the coming weeks!

SELF Exclusive! We Got the Truth on Whether Spinning Bulks Up Your Legs or Not

So, you guys, Spinning does cause bulk — but in terms of your calorie burn. Your confidence. Your love of Capital Cities “Safe and Sound” remixes.

But what it really, truly, despite-the-copious-hoopla-from-this-week does NOT do is bulk your thighs.

We were tempted to end our post with that (and this), but we want you to know why your Flywheel class won’t give you Hulk legs. So we asked exercise physiologist Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery (and our very own Dr. Abs) to lay it out:

“You have two types of muscle fibers; one type are endurance fibers. When you do aerobic exercise, like Spinning, you use these fibers,” Olson says. OK, easy so far. “These fibers can become more fatigue-resistant from doing activities like Spinning and running [aka, it feels easier to do the same workout], but they do not bulk. You have to lift heavy weights doing multiple sets to cause muscle growth in your power/strength fibers, and you don’t use these to any appreciable degree during cardio exercise.” Aha! But wait, there’s more.

Olson went on to say that recent studies have shown that women actually lose fat from their guts and lower bodies when they cycle often. In other words, their thighs likely look smaller.

Yes, your legs may appear a little pumped after SoulCycle, “but that’s temporary, and due to more blood flow and higher blood pressure in the muscle beds in your legs,” Olson explains. “You also take up extra water when you sweat a lot, and the muscle beds that are used in any activity will store more water to compensate. But these changes aren’t because of increased muscle size or more fat, and they’ll fade within an hour.”

So! Keep Spinning (and lifting weights, and stretching, and penning handwritten thank-you notes, because you know they’re all good for you). It strengthens your heart, flattens your abs, and burns off tons of calories.

  • […] Jennifer Sage, the voice of reason for indoor cycling, points out that a recent Self Magazine artic… refutes the idea that Spinning bulks your thighs because of the different types of muscle fibers used in endurance exercise vs. strength training. (Click on the link for the complete article in Self, as well as links to the articles previously mentioned.) […]

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    2 Trackbacks

    1. Spinning does not bulk up your thighs! | Life is an Epic Ryde
      January 20, 2014 1:33 PM
    2. I’m no fitness expert, but I know enough to post my opinion on the internet… | My (first) Century
      January 22, 2014 5:49 PM

    1 Comment Add yours

    1. Becky
      January 21, 2014
      12:00 pm #comment-1

      Thank you SO MUCH Jennifer!!! I saw this on Good Morning America and just about shot the television!!!! Since I don’t have a national forum to counterattack, I’m thrilled you have!! Keep it up!!


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