I spent a lot of time in the workout focused on my form. I have a lot of form issues on the bike - likely because nobody ever taught me how to ride a bike - I just did it (I guess this translates to my running problems too). In the spin workouts I can see my form in the mirrors and the coach calls me out on it too. There are a lot of important things to remember. Some of the issues are very obvious. In my case this includes allowing tension to build up in my shoulders, keep my elbows in, and occasionally too much of my upper body is bouncing around.
Coach Mike is always telling us - core strength is free speed - and you can tell he means it. His big mantra is "Core to Pedal." When I first did this workout he repeated it continuously and I thought he was saying "Quarter Pedal." Hmmm... what is a "quarter" pedal?? Well after I figured out he was actually saying "core to pedal" I understood. He talks about the core a lot and how important it is to engage the core so you can stabilize your upper body with the core and allow the power to come from the core, through the leg and output into the pedal.
He had us do a very interesting exercise to demonstrate the importance of engaging the core. First we let our backs slouch and relaxed the core and pedal for a little bit (bad form). Then we straighted our back and engaged our core muscles (proper form). I could instantly feel the pedaling become easier - it was like someone turned the resistance down a turn or two.
I tried to find some examples online and I came across this picture on Joe Friel's blog. You can see the rider on the left has his core engaged and a flat back and the rider on the right has a rounded back.
He believes in core strength so much that after 60 minutes of riding we put away the bikes and spend the next twenty minutes doing core work. We do all sorts of moves like bridges, bicycle kicks, flutter kicks, regular crunches, supermans. Then we always end with three sets of planks. OMG. The planks at the end always kill me. We rotate from center, left, right and hold each for 15 seconds, rest, repeat for 20 seconds each, rest and then repeat for 30 seconds each.
I really think all this coached spinning is really going to pay off once I'm back out on the road!
Did you have to re-learn how to ride a bike once you started triathlon? What mantra's do you have for keeping good bike form or focus?