by Abbie Galvin

August 8th 2012

The question below, from WellandGoodNYC.com, discusses whether or not spinning leads to bulky quads.  In this entry, Abbie gives her two cents about this issue.  To read the full article visit www.wellandgoodnyc.com

We've heard this comment about eight million times (maybe you have, too): "I love to spin, but I don't want to bulk up my quads." While no one who said this wanted to be quoted, I've literally heard such comments as, "I can't fit into my Rag & Bone jeans anymore." So amid the growing chatter and concern that this popular cardio workout may be a great way to torch calories, but at the expense of thicker thighs, the question was asked: " Is this an urban fitness myth spun out of control? Or does spinning really lead to bigger quads?"

As a yoga teacher for many years, this is what I tell my sister, Carol Pratt, an avid spinner at Soulcycle with an equally avid thigh obsession: While spinning demands that you work your legs, the real demand is in the hips. Your legs are extensions of the pelvis. Spinners should be sitting on the perineum, their center, equidistant between the pubis, coccyx, and two buttock bones. In this way you fully engage the hip joints, rather than overplaying the leg muscles. If spinners only push with their legs and bypass their pelvis, the pelvis gets no oxygen, squishing the organs that are meant to give you access to the biggest joint in your body which gives you stability as well as mobility. If you are sitting on your center, you are basically supporting your most primitive organs: your endocrine glands, adrenals, spleen, and pancreas. 

The glands are your circuit breakers. When you spin in your quads instead of your hips your lower body isn’t oxygenated so your muscles get dense, like hard packed dirt, thus bulky quads. When you work from the hips and pelvis you get a longer muscle, more air (lungs), a longer battery charge (kidneys), and a heart that pumps more efficiently. I staunchly disagree with those who contend that we are stuck with our DNA. The body is organic material and like anything else in nature it’s constantly changing in response to weather, diet, habit, thoughts and behavior. Good form can reform, transform and inform the body. Because the body learns through repetition, you  can set up conditions differently from what your habits dictate. So as I tell my twin sister, be a wise, esoteric yogi and stick your ass out, sit on the opening of your vagina, and back bend. In this way your are not bulking up your thighs, you are making your lungs powerful. It will make you powerful. Watch my sis to see if she’s listening.