to Know Your Spinervals DVD
Hazen Kent - Tri-Newbies
coming months and once each month Tri-Newbies Online
will review a different Spinerval’s DVD, covering the
specifics of the workout featured on that particular DVD
as well as any tips and techniques that may help you get
the most out of your Spinervals workout!
purpose of this article is to provide an overall review
and preview of a typical Spinerval’s DVD. While the
workouts within each are unique and serve a specific
purpose (ie. hillwork, time trialing, spinning/power,
aerobic base building, etc)
the framework of each DVD is basically the same.
So in this review, we will cover the information that
remains consistent throughout all of the Spinervals
DVD’s. We will also discuss some of the items you will
need so that you will get the most out of your
Spinervals workout. And finally we will discuss some
specific skills necessary to provide a safe and
production of each of the DVD’s that I have personally
viewed (which at this time is twelve total) is
absolutely first rate. The sound quality is clear, the
picture is very crisp and sharp and the graphics
provided on the screen during the workout are easy to
read and understand. The camera work is also terrific,
as the workouts are shot from a variety of directions
focusing on the different participating athletes as well
as Coach Troy himself.
Furthermore, each workout includes riders (triathletes
as well as cyclists) of various skill levels and
occupations and is shot in a different and unique
location throughout the country.
If you are
looking at your monitor (television or computer) during
your workout, you will have several graphics positioned
along the bottom of the screen as well as the top left
corner (see picture below).
Along the bottom of the screen and moving from left to
right you have three different graphics: the overall
time counting down, the recommended tension level (for stationary
cycles only) and the gear ratio in which you should
be riding. And in the upper left hand corner of your
viewing screen you have an effort meter.
first put in your DVD and choose the “menu” options,
you will have several choices:
Workout with music – the workout with music playing in the
without music – for all you MP3’ers out
there! You can play your own tunes while workout
out, just remember to keep the volume low enough so
you can hear Troy give his instructions.
Selection – provides the entire set and allows
you the option to choose a specific set if for
example you are limited for time.
Notes – a sit down type of interview with
Coach Troy as he describes the essentials of the
With Coach Troy: More information provided for the
will remain the same with each DVD, but certain DVD’s
may have additional features as well. For example, in
Timetrialapalooza 22.0 (which will be reviewed in the
future) there is an excellent segment on bicycle fit and
the differences between a triathlon/time bicycle and a
traditional road bike.
As in all of his Spinerval DVD’s, Troy Jacobson
actively participates as your coach, moving about the
room, keeping you (as well as the athletes in the
production) engaged throughout the entire workout.
Whether he is instructing you to hop up out of the
saddle and “run on the pedals,” or passing along
helpful training advice and motivation, Coach Troy
eliminates any possibilities of you being bored. It is
amazing just how fast the time goes by!
required for optimal results:
begin your particular workout, there are a few items you
will need in order to gain the most out of each workout.
Computer w/ Cadence
– you will want a bicycle computer with cadence.
Cadence shows your pedal revolutions while riding.
Speed is not really a concern in these DVD’s but
your cadence is.
rate monitor – A heart monitor is necessary
for these DVD’s (and for your
triathlon/cycling/run training as well). There are
several on the market, and really, there is not a
bad one out there. Some will have more bells and
whistles than others and the price will reflect the
added features. But the main feature you should be
concerned with is a stopwatch function with your
heart rate monitor (so you can use it for you
running as well). If you presently do not own a
heart rate monitor, do some homework and get one.
Cycling and running retailers such as TriSports,
All3Sports, Nashbar, Performance and Road Runner
Sports will have plenty from which to choose.
Obvious items you’ll need!
Stationary Trainer - Most of you will be using
your bicycle for your indoor training. So, you will need
a rear wheel stationary trainer. There are several
excellent trainers on the market in the $150 - $400
range. My recommendation is to find one that offers
resistance settings. As you progress through your
Spinervals DVD, you can challenge yourself by increasing
the resistance for your ride! Most of your larger
retailers will have several brands for sale.
Some of you may have an older
“beater” bike sitting around your garage that
you can use as your trainer bicycle. And if so,
terrific. However, most do not. Therefore, if you are
using your main bicycle for your indoor cycling, make
sure to take extra care of her after an indoor ride.
Typically, we tend to sweat a bit more indoors for there
is no wind to help keep us cool and to keep our
perspiration from dripping all over the bike. **NOTE:
Always have a fan blowing on you when riding indoors. And
while a fan will help keep you cool, it won’t help
blow the perspiration off the body and thus keep it off
the bike. So, after you complete your workout, take a
dry cloth and wipe down your bike. Wipe off the headset,
your top tube, your crank arms, your seat and your rear
brake calipers. All of these tend to be in the direct
path of dripping perspiration during an indoor ride. And
these components can become rust magnets.
Bicycle. If you have a stationary bicycle in your
home, make sure you are fitted properly. I suggest
transferring the measurements from your road bike to
your stationary bike
to Know You DVD’s:
of any Spinervals DVD is the fact that you can challenge
yourself in a variety of ways with just one DVD/workout
thus never really getting bored with that particular
volume. Don’t get me wrong…changing things up and
adding new DVD’s to your collection will only prove
beneficial, for as I mentioned, I have several that I
use throughout my training week as well as for
particular phases in my training. But, I highly
recommend that you buy one and really get to know it
before you move on to a new one. ** Keeping in mind,
moving on to a new one does not mean discarding the one
you may have, at least in your mind, “played out.”
Keep them all, use them all, for they will all have a
place in your training regimen.
do I mean by “getting to know” your DVD? Well, by
this I mean, get a feel for the particular workout and
all that it includes.
Learn how Coach Troy speaks and presents the
workout; learn to anticipate certain changes within the
workout, when to be ready to hop out of the saddle,
shift gears etc. These will all help you progress
through the workout more efficiently, allowing you to
focus on the critical areas.
advantage of using one particular DVD/workout over a
given time, is that you can assess your progress.
But to do so accurately,
keep all variables the same. In other words, try
to do that particular DVD/workout on the same day of
each week, at the same time of day, etc. (i.e. in the
morning before work or evening after work).
And journal your progress.
receiving the DVD in the mail, some folks will pop it in
their DVD player and preview it from the comfort of
their favorite armchair before putting it to use. I
prefer the practical approach of getting on the bike and
participating in the workout first hand.
out without any expectations. The temptation will be to
jump right into Troy’s instruction and go at it.
start out at an easy resistance level on your trainer.
Especially those new to the sport of triathlon and
specifically, cycling. For certain terminology may seem
confusing at first while you are trying to follow along
with the specific workout. For those familiar with
Spinervals, the acclimation to a new DVD/workout may not
take as along as someone new. But either way, don’t
worry about your performance for the first couple of
to do in preparation for a new DVD Workout.
It is important for you to understand heart rate
training and to learn your various training zones and/or
levels such as your Lactate Threshold and your aerobic
training zone. For during some of the DVD/workouts, you
will be asked to train at a heart rate relative to your
lactate threshold. Now, there are tests you can perform
in order to find your Lactate Threshold. And some can
actually be fairly tough and even injurious (running all
out over a given distance, or pedaling your bike up a
hill at difficult pace) so it will be up to you to do
some research, find a safe approach and get an idea of
where you fit.
are several methods for determining your heart rate, and
several excellent books on the market that show you how.
I personally use the 180 method of heart rate
training that calculates my aerobic training zone and
from there, I can determine where I need to be for a
variety of training efforts. For example, via the 180
method, I know my aerobic heart rate zone is 125 – 135
beats per minute. If for example I am working out with
one of the “Aero Base Building” DVD’s, I know I
need to keep my heart rate within these heart rate
limits throughout the workout for maximum aerobic
training. For more on heart rate training as well as the
180 method of training, click here!
As previously mentioned, for your first couple of
workouts, be conservative and choose an easy resistance
level on which to train. For those using their bicycle
with a rear stationary trainer (a trainer on which your
rear wheel sits), start out with a resistance level of 1
maybe 2. Get
a feel for spinning at a higher cadence and the
relationship between your heart rate and your cadence.
Before beginning the DVD, be familiar with your gears on
bike and the terminology associated with your bike
gears. And specifically, make sure you understand the
terminology used during a Spinervals workout. For
example, most of you will have two chainrings located at
the center of the bike on which the crank arms and
pedals are attached (some of you may have a triple ring
set up). Typically, these are referred to as your Big
Chainring and your Small Chain Ring. Throughout most of
the Spinerval workouts you will here Troy refer to these
as the “Big Ring in Front” or
the “Small Ring in Front.”
also have a “cluster” of rings or cogs attached to
the rear wheel. This cluster is known as your rear
cassette ( or for older bikes, a rear freewheel). Most
of you will have a 9 speed cassette on you back wheel
which means the cassette is made up of 9 cogs (some of
you may still have a 7 speed freewheel or an 8 speed
freewheel/cassette, which means you will have either 7
or 8 cogs on the back cluster). On each of the cogs,
there are teeth that act as guides for the bike chain
with the number of teeth marked on each cog. Troy will
refer to these during the workout by the number of teeth
on each cog. For example, he may say, “ok, shift up to
your big chainring in the front and your 15 on the
what he means is, you are in your big chain ring up
front and your 15 tooth cog on the back. It will
be up to you know your set up in the back. Your back
cluster may be a 12 – 25 meaning you have nine rings
ranging from the smallest - a 12 toothed cog, to the
largest - a 25 toothed cog. And typically the cogs would
be 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25.
Again, each number represents the number teeth on
each cog. See picture…
on where you live may depend upon your set up in the
back. For example, I live in the coastal southeast where
it is extremely flat. The only hills we have are the
bridge spans that cross the various waterways. We do,
however, have incredible winds because we are oceanside.
But my set up is a 12-21 with cogs being,
12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21. and I rarely if ever ride in
#21. Furthermore, I have an older bike as my trainer
bike and my set up is an older 7 speed freewheel with a
straight 12-18 (12,13,14,15,16,17,18) For those who live
in hillier or mountainous regions, you may have a 12 –
25 on the back. So take a look at your rear wheel and
determine your set up. Throughout most of the Spinerval
workouts, a 12-25 seems to be the cassette of choice.
However, if you do not have that particular set up, do
not worry, use what you have. There are always specific
points that you can check your pace to see how it
relates to the DVD.
As I mentioned earlier, I have an older “beater”
bike set up as my training bike with a 7 speed freewheel
on the back wheel. The gears are a straight 12-18 or
(12,13.14,15,16,17,18). Troy will often start out most
sets with you cycling in the Big Ring up front and your
15 - toothed cog in the back. And he may have you
pedaling at a cadence of between 90 and 100 rpms. At
some point he may ask you to shift up to your 23 tooth
cog or “the next cog down from your largest cog in
the back” while maintaining a cadence over 105
rpms or higher. Well, for me, that would be my 17
toothed cog. And pedaling over 105 rpms while
maintaining my optimal heart rate is not as easy. I am
usually at a cadence of around 95 rpms. So work with
what you have. But keep in mind, my goal is to get my
cadence up to 100 or 105 at my optimal heart rate while
in the 17 toothed cog.
and Pedaling or rather “Running on Your Pedals”
of you who live in the mountainous regions around our
country (or world), no doubt you are used to standing
and pedaling your bicycle during uphill ascents.
And typically, your cadence is very slow as you
power through each pedal stroke. However, during some of
the Spinerval DVD’s standing and pedaling may be a
little different from what some of you are used to.
some point during your Spinervals workout you will be
instructed to stand and pedal while pedaling at a high
cadence – say around 90-100 rpms. Now, if any of you
have ever taken a “spinning” class at your local
gym, you most likely will have performed this task.
However, not all of us have. So it is important you
understand the safest way to do so.
some tips that may help you better prepare you for those
times Coach Troy instructs you to “stand out of the
saddle and run on those pedals!” Refer to the picture
below when reading the steps…
faster the cadence, the more you have to pay attention
to your form when standing and pedaling. You will be
performing more of a running form on the pedals vs. the
typical long, slow, rocking motion you may be used to
when pedaling uphill.
Keep your upper body still and facing forward.
(see pic above)
Keep your hips straight and facing forward. (see
Pedal as if you are sitting but you are actually
standing. Almost like running on the pedals.
Your weight distribution between the amount of
weight you place on your handle bars with your upper
body vs the amount of weight you place on your pedals
via your lower body when standing will make a big
difference as to how smooth your pedal stroke will be.
Most of us tend to place too much weight on the pedals
trying to emulate our typical climbing form (slower
cadence, hips moving side to side, and bike swaying side
to side opposite the hips) And you will find, that if
you do this at a faster cadence, your pedal stroke will
actually be very choppy and erratic. If you place too
much weight on your handlebars via your upper body, you
will certainly find it easier to pedal faster and
smoother, but you will basically be cheating yourself
because very little weight will be on the pedals and
thus you will not really gain any benefit. So you want
to develop a nice balance between the two. (see picture)
When standing and pedaling, do not stand straight
up (back erect). Bend at your waist and maintain a lower
center of gravity. (see pic above)
***IMPORTANT*** Do not ever straighten
your legs or lock your legs while pedaling at a high
cadence. You will run the risk of either hyperextending
your knee or causing some frontal knee injury. Keep your
knees slightly bent as you pedal throughout the entire
Take a look at the DVD and see how the athletes
perform on screen and it will give an excellent picture
of what to do.
If you are
not used to standing and pedaling at a fast cadence, do
not simply hop up and go at it. You could encounter a
knee related injury. And if you are experiencing any
knee pain going into the workout, take extra precautions
before standing and pedaling at any cadence. Initially,
when instructed to stand and pedal, slow your cadence
down a bit to a comfortable pace and then stand and
pedal. As you develop a feel for this method of standing
and pedaling, you will begin to adapt to a faster
that most reviews give both goods and bads, yeys and
neys, etc. of the particular product in an effort to be
unbiased. Well, unfortunately for all you skeptics out
there, I have nothing negative to say at all about any
of the Spinerval DVDs that I have used or viewed.! I
absolutely love them all!
And further more, I highly recommend them for
not just for your winter indoor training. They will
prove beneficial during all phases of your training.
those who wonder if I am using them…absolutely!
Currently I am cycling five days a week. Four of those
days I am on the trainer using the Aero Base Building
DVD’s (16,17,18,25) and the Time Trialapalooza (as of
the writing of this article)