- 20 Mar 5 Benefits of Using a Spin Bike
- Stationary Bike Vs. Spin Bike: How Do They Differ?
- Spin Bike Benefits: 10+ Cycling Benefits #4 Shock You!
- #01 – Monitor
- #02 – Calories
- #03 – Low Impact
- #04 – Reduce Stress
- #05 – Reduced Risk of Injury
- #06 – Muscle Tone Building
- #07 – Increase Endurance
- #08 – Increased Cardiovascular System
- #09 – Immune System
- #10 – Tempo Control
- #11 – Track Your Progress
- #12 – Year Round Exercises
- Benefits of Spin Bikes – Spin Bike Workout Videos
- Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Cycling
- Goals, meet achievements.Canyon Ranch® Wellness Resorts
- Beginner’s guide to indoor training: all you need to get started
- 1. Find the right training space
- 2. Choose your preferred type of trainer
- 3. Get the right indoor training accessories
- 4. Find a workout
- 5. Do a fitness test, then repeat
- 6. Decide how often and when you want to train
- Spin® Life Blog
- Class Basics: Spinning
- Typical Class Routine
- What are Common Spinning Movements?
- Spinning Movement Positions
- Proper Spinning Form
- What to Wear to Spinning
- Spinning Classes Near Me
- The Worst Mistakes You Can Make at Your Indoor Cycling Exercise Class
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Spin class basics: how do they work?
- Can anyone take part in a spin class?
- Tips for your first spin class
- Spinning 5 Days a Week Wasn’t Helping Me Lose Weight. Here’s the Workout That Did.
- Get wellness tips, workout trends, healthy eating, and more delivered right to your inbox with our Be Well newsletter.
- Speed vs. Resistance on the Indoor Bike
- 1. Flywheel-based systems resistance
- 2. Direct contact resistance
- 3. Magnetic resistance
- 4. Fan-based resistance
- So what is the best resistance to use?
20 Mar 5 Benefits of Using a Spin Bike
Posted at 20:19h in Blog by Oleksiy Melnyk
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, spinning is essentially indoor cycling. It’s done on a stationary bike with a weighted wheel but has all the benefits of cycling.
Except for the fresh air of course, but the fact that it’s convenient enough to do at home or without going too far is the appeal for some people.
People use it as a way to build up things like strength, endurance, fitness and some people just enjoy it as a hobby.
Typically, people will start spinning by joining a class and this is also something that is part of the appeal for a few of those who try it.
We’ve talked a little bit before on here about the benefits of taking group fitness classes. It’s always nice to have others there for support and company during high-intensity exercise.
So I’ve touched on it briefly, but let’s go into detail on the benefits. Here are five ways that using a spin bike will help you:
1. Cardiovascular Fitness
In short, cardiovascular fitness is how effectively your heart and your lungs can provide oxygenated blood to your muscles.
Having good cardio is something that’s very important and not focusing on this during your exercise time can lead to health problems down the line.
Your chances of heart disease dramatically increase if you have good cardiovascular fitness and spinning is one of the ways that you can achieve that.
It’s an exercise that will put your heart to work consistently for the entire 40-60 minutes that you are spinning.
It’s the cardio exercise for those who are seeking a convenient and low-impact way to stay healthy. Being able to get your cardio done indoors in a safe environment is extremely handy.
If you practice spinning maybe 2-3 times a week then you should notice your stamina and longevity increasing as the weeks progress. This is your heart getting stronger.
2. Muscle Definition
To be specific on this one, spinning is good for building up lean muscle definition for your legs and your core.
Leg exercises tend to be some of the more strenuous, difficult and potentially dangerous ones and a lot of people often opt out of working their legs when they’re trying to build muscle.
If you’re one of these people and it’s because you’re not fond of squats or that intimidating leg press, you could always work your leg muscles on the spin bike.
It’s one of the most effective leg exercises that there is because it works your quads, your hamstrings, your gastrocnemius muscles, and your soleus muscles.
Because you’re going at a high-speed and going consistently for an extended period of time, you are giving each of these muscles attention with the one exercise.
And then there’s your core too. So you can work on getting a great figure while also covering your cardio.
3. Low Risk of Injury
Despite being pretty intense, spinning is actually a very low-impact exercise overall and you don’t need to worry too much about getting injured.
It’s pretty easy on your joints, you are putting your hips and your knees to use but you aren’t putting significant weight on them.
This makes it a great exercise for older people too whose joints are stiffer and more liable to damage or injury.
Don’t get me wrong here, your muscles will be reacting, and you will feel the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), but it’s unlikely you’ll cause serious harm.
In addition, the fact that you aren’t outdoors and the bike is also pretty well fixed in place, you don’t have to worry at all about crashing and very little about falling off.
To completely minimize the risk of that last point, you should consider getting yourself a good pair of cycling shoes. These will clip into the pedals and essentially fasten you to the bike.
4. Good for the Immune System
Having a stronger immune system means that you are likely to have a longer lifespan and are less likely to experience too many illnesses.
There are a few things that contribute to the strength of your immune system, mainly relating to diet and lifestyle, but a major factor in your thymus gland.
This particular gland releases T-Cells which hunt down and destroy cells that are infected by harmful bacteria.
As you get older, your thymus will shrink and as a result, fewer T-Cells are released into your body. This is the gist of why older people tend to get sick much more easily.
Research suggests however that an older person who cycles regularly will produce just as many T-Cells as someone who is 20 years old.
You’re exercising your thymus while cycling or spinning and preventing it from shrinking. You could have the immune system of a 20-year old for most of your life if you spin regularly.
5. Stress Reduction
We’ve talked about this here before too. Exercise is good for stress because it helps you to focus your mind on something other than what’s causing your anxiety.
Funnily enough, something that is a source of stress for people who do actually work out is planning and sticking to their exercise regime.
There’s very little of that with spinning. All you have to do is get on the bike and pedal away for about 40 minutes.
You don’t have to think about anything else. You can just relax your mind and focus on your breathing and pedaling.
People who cycle to work instead of driving tend to be more comfortable throughout the day because of it and the same principle applies to spin.
It’s just a convenient, stress-fighting way to get your exercise in.
So in short, the benefits are numerous and if you are looking for an exercise that’s effective but also convenient and low-impact, spinning is right for you.
And while I’d always recommend you take a class for this, once you have it mastered you could even get a spin bike of your own and do this from home.
Take a look at this guide from Groom and Style to get a sense of how great the selection of these home spin bikes is.
Take the class first, of course, to make sure that this is for you. It probably is.
Stationary Bike Vs. Spin Bike: How Do They Differ?
As you get set to begin your cycling workout program, one question you may find yourself asking is stationary bike vs. spin bike. Which one should you do? You’ve seen both in the gym and have always wondered what the key differences were and which would be the better bet for your overall progress.
We’re here today to outline the pros and cons of each bike and hopefully help you better understand which is going to be the superior option for you.
|Stationary Bike||Spin Bike|
|Primary Use||Regular cycling||Spinning|
|Ease Of Use||Good||Good|
|Muscles Worked||Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves||Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, core|
|Progression Model||Increase speed or resistance||Increase speed, resistance, or stand|
Now that you have a brief overview of the two types of machines, let’s look at the pros and cons a little more closely.
First let’s consider the primary use of the different bikes. Stationary bikes are typically used in a general health and fitness program and tend to be good for anyone who is hoping to simply improve their cardiovascular fitness level, build muscle strength, and see better results from their weight loss efforts.
Spin bikes on the other hand, are used for spinning group fitness classes and are more traditionally used by those who actually participate in cycling as a sport. They more closely mimic the body position that regular bikes do as the handle bar position is lower so you are more hunched over while using them.
Therefore, there is greater transfer over benefits if you are actually a cyclist and simply looking to train indoors.
This said, that does not mean you can’t do spinning as just part of your general health and fitness program. This is completely acceptable and there are still many benefits to doing so.
Ease Of Use
If you’ve ever ridden a regular bike before, as a kid or as an adult, you’ll likely have no trouble transitioning. The upright bike may feel slightly different than a traditional bike but the difference is not noticeable enough to cause any issues with completing the workout.
If you are considering injury risk, when we look at the machine set up itself, the spin bike actually as a lower injury risk than the typical upright bike. This is because the flywheel is much easier, so it helps keep the bike in constant motion, therefore is less impactful on the joints.
This said, those who do spinning quite intensely are typically spinning faster and may also be standing on the bike, therefore this greater range of movement patterns can increase your injury risk.
Standing and spinning is always going to put you at a higher injury risk than sitting and spinning, so that’s something that must be taken into account.
If you simply use the spinning bike to sit and spin, then your injury risk on this will be very low. What you may find you suffer from the most is back pain from being hunched over more on this type of cycle.
The progression model is quite similar for both types of bikes. On each, you can increase the resistance level higher, making the exercise harder to complete. This forces the muscles to work harder and thus helps you build strength and fitness. The harder your muscles have to work against resistance, the more your heart will also be working, so this also helps elevate your cardiovascular fitness level as well.
Both bikes also allow you to go faster, so if speed is your primary goal, you can easily do that on either machine.
Where they differ is as noted above, the spin bike allows you to stand and cycle. The regular upright bike does not (well you can, but it will be very awkward to do), so you’ll want to ensure that you decide whether that’s something you want to incorporate in your workout program or not.
Being able to stand does open the doors for more exercise variation so if you are someone who is easily bored during your workout sessions, this is definitely a consideration to have.
The muscles worked on both bikes will be quite similar, until you stand up on the spinning bike. If you are just doing your regular biking, you’ll be working the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The core will also come into play to a small degree to help keep you balanced.
When you stand however, you will now be putting more stress on those lower body muscles, especially the calves, while also working the shoulders, arms, back, and core to a much larger degree.
As soon as you begin standing, it turns into a more complete full body workout, so this will be a great benefit to take into account and consider.
If you aren’t doing many other exercises, investing in a spin bike may be your superior choice.
The calorie burn is another factor to consider in the debate of the stationary bike vs. the spin bike. Generally speaking, you’ll tend to burn more calories on a spin bike because you’ll incorporate more muscles into the exercise (if you stand up) and because it takes more energy to keep that flywheel going.
The flywheel’s in the spin bike are heavier than the regular bike, so you’ll burn more energy completing each rep that you perform.
There isn’t going to be a tremendous difference in calorie burns in a seated position however, so if you never plan to stand, you’ll probably just want to go with whatever bike is most comfortable for you if this is a primary deciding factor.
Finally, also take note that the spin bike doesn’t typically come with a console that will give you all the stats of your workout like how far you’ve travelled, how many calories you’ve burned, and with programmable options as well.
So if that’s important to you, you’ll want to go with the upright bike instead.
Deciding between the stationary bike vs. the spin bike can be a challenge but if you look at how you plan to use it and actually try a couple machines to figure out which you are most comfortable on, it should be a relatively easy decision for you.
Photo credit: VGstockstudio/; konggraphic/; Supavadee butradee/
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Spin Bike Benefits – Spin bikes are indoor cycling bikes that are mandatory in each gym for warmup and fat loss.
Even though the bike is stationary, its function is similar to an outdoor bicycle. Spin Bike Benefits will like Spin bikes have a weighted flywheel that goes through various other machines before reaching the pedals.
The system is similar to a normal bicycle. The bike provides great resistance while you workout on it.
The popularity of spin bikes has grown rapidly during the last few years. Inspired by the celebrities’ workout session, people have also started to follow them.
The bike has become one of the trending exercise machines all over the world. Rather than paying for those expensive gym fees, it’s better to buy one your self.
It is going to help you meet your goal for weight loss. The machine provides full body workout bringing all major muscles into motion.
The bike is similar to an actual bike not just in the mechanism but also in the look and the way a person has to work out on it.
Like a normal bike, a person has to lean forward in a crouching position in which the same position in which a person sits on a road bike or a motorbike. The bike provides various health and workout benefits for weight loss.
Spin Bike Benefits: 10+ Cycling Benefits #4 Shock You!
Table of Contents
Obesity has become an extensive problem in today’s world and it is very important to fight against it. The extra storage of fat in the body is not at all good for the health of a human being and it can harm the body in ways you cannot even think off.
The major cause of obesity in today’s world is the lifestyle. I am not talking about one thing in particular but I am considering everything that is wrong with the lifestyle people is indulging themselves into these days. Human beings have started giving priority to money and comfort more than anything else and this is the reason that health is going into terrible conditions.
To make money, a person is ready to work all day long without taking any breaks; this creates too much stress and also restricts you from having any time of your own. These hectic schedules are one reason for the growth of obesity in humans today.
One more major reason for the same is the food. The world is super busy and everyone is just running. Running for life, running for education, running for the job and running for survival. In this run for life, the most important thing people chose to ignore is nutritional food.
Nutritional food is time-consuming. It demands time to prepare and it demands time to consume. This is why; people chose to ignore the nutritional value of this food and choose to live on fast food. Fast food is a betrayer to health and the worst choice people can make. It is ok if you eat them in once a while, but the generation is completely relying upon food like this.
Fast food is full of calories and hardly has any good effects on the body. All it can do is fill your stomach and color your taste buds, which in the long as well as short run, is going to do you no good.
Another major problem of this lifestyle is that people hardly have time for anything other than their work. They are always working, and the little time they get free, people use it for resting and relaxing.
Well, a spin bike can help you relax without demanding much time out of your hardbound schedule. You can be as consumed in your work and in your diet as you are and the bike will keep doing its job if you let it.
Cycling is a good way to relax and refresh your mind plus it is also an exercise, this is why spin bikes can be great for people who are suffering from such issues of lifestyle and jobs.
#01 – Monitor
It helps you monitor the amount of workout you do or the number of calories. It helps you keep track of your progress. You can never find such a thing in the real bicycle and this is one of the things that make the spin bikes better from ordinary bikes.
#02 – Calories
It is a high-intensity workout machine, thus 45 minutes of workout can help you lose 500 calories. The tension by the bike can be decreased and increased according to the need of intensity for the workout. After a few weeks, you will be able to see the visual difference if you work in the right possible method.
#03 – Low Impact
Spinning does not trouble your knees or thighs as it puts a low amount of pressure on the fragile parts unlike running, aerobics, swimming etc. This is why the workout is also good for people suffering from arthritis and also is ideal for people of all age.
People recovering from any injury can also use it under their doctor’s supervision. It is a safe and prescribed way of working out which is not going to cause you to harm if you do it right.
#04 – Reduce Stress
Exercise is a proven method for lowering down the stress level and a spinning session is more efficient in doing the same. It is because it is an intensive workout type and also you can sit.
Talk and socialize with people which obviously helps you to lower the stress level. Cyclists were found to be having low levels of stress as compared to other people and a few athletes.
#05 – Reduced Risk of Injury
The wheel in the machine is covered and there is a seat attached on the machine to sit and pedal, unlike running on a treadmill that involves a high risk of falling down on the running track, overstretching the muscle, muscle tear etc. It happens because it is a low-pressure workout.
#06 – Muscle Tone Building
Spin bike workout forces tension on the core muscles and butts and thighs, helping in building muscle tone. While working out in the right position and right amount of strength you will be able to tone up your muscles the way you want them to be.
Spinning may look and feel like there are no efforts being put but the case is not the same. Spinning makes your body workout without letting you know. The constant movement of legs and thighs helps in toning and building muscles in the lower part of the body.
#07 – Increase Endurance
If you feel weak while performing simple daily tasks, it means you are lacking endurance. Spin biking is a great source of working out on your endurance without getting tired.
For the people who do not wish to be indulged into an exercise that is tough and demands a lot of efforts like running, climbing, aerobics etc.
#08 – Increased Cardiovascular System
It is found out in a study that spinning can increase cardiovascular fitness by up to 3-7% as it makes the heart pound in a steady manner. Cycling involves a large number of leg muscles that increases heart rate to benefit fitness and stamina.
#09 – Immune System
Cycling can be a great aid to increase stamina and can protect against certain types of cancer. The cells of the body get active and are more likely to fight against the disease.
#10 – Tempo Control
Spin bike workout provides liberty to modify and control the tempo of the workout. This is something you will not find in a real bicycle and this is why the spin bikes are a better option. It can be customized as per the need of the user.
#11 – Track Your Progress
You can easily track your progress with the help of a digital system in the machine. It makes it easy for the athlete to track how long he has to go to reach its goal.
#12 – Year Round Exercises
It causes no harm to the muscles and the joints if performed properly, thus, is an ideal exercise and can be done throughout the year without taking breaks.
Benefits of Spin Bikes – Spin Bike Workout Videos
Final Point – Spin Bike Benefits
Though we have discussed how spin bikes can be of great use for any and every person, they give us a chance of working out we wanted but had been ignoring for so long because of the fear of exercises like running, aerobics, swimming which involves risks of getting hurt.
You can create motivation for yourself by working out on your set goals of working out and keeping a track of everything with the help of this bike. It gives you several benefits for health that are not easy to get from another kind of workout with huge trouble.
They are convenient to use wherever you want them, as they need little space and can fit easily. It also does not require great efforts to learn how to use a spin bike. It can be used as any other regular bike. The bikes can be used by anyone disregarding their age and fear of getting hurt which makes them a convenient option. There are hardly and exercise machines that are convenient and suggested for all age groups and this is what makes spin bikes a great option to have.
This is one of the most affordable machines for the workout you can get for your house and use it at home without worrying about going to a gym for your fitness needs. This particular machine for fitness is able to tone up your muscles at home without putting in many efforts. You just have to sit there on the seat and paddle. You can keep doing something if you want to while you ride the spin bike and there will be no harm to you or the machine.
You can lose a great amount of weight if you keep working regularly on the machine; just take care of for how long you need to go on working. Do not go beyond an hour because that might because you to lose extra calories then you are required to. This is also a great medium to work on your body posture as it requires a body posture of an athlete and regular training will make it a habit for you.
The bike is a packet full of benefits in various terms. The bike helps you in growing your stamina, lower body strength, and biking skills. The spin bike works on various parts of the body like hips, calves, shoulders, thighs, and waist by giving them a high-intensity workout. It takes all the parts of the body together and works on them. Be the parts you want to focus on the most or the parts of the body you never paid much attention to.
Spin bikes are designed in a way that they can be comfortably used by the user and never get tricky. Everyone knows how a bicycle is ridden and that is the same way a spin bike is ridden. There is no hidden or complicated method and it is just that simple.
Other then the easiness, the bike is technically smart too. It helps you record all the important information about your workout progress on the bike to let you compare with your older results.
The spin bike can be a source that can help you fight the problem of obesity, as it does not demand your complete attention and it is always fun. Here are some points that will let you know why a spin bike is beneficial.
We hope we have provided enough information for you now and you will be able to decide for yourself. Keep following us for more such information.
We have recently written content for spin bike buyers, do check it out that content on our blog.
Have a great time training on spin bikes. Lastly, search terms, which our users might be searching such as spin bike price, spin bikes for home, spin bike workout videos, peloton spin bike review, spin bike cost. That is all about the topic of friends, Spin Bike Benefits.
Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Cycling
Indoor cycling, also known as Spinning (the brand name of an indoor bike that has become synonymous with the workout), has ranked among the top fitness trends for nearly three decades—and it shows no sign of losing steam. In fact, 34.7 million people are in on the trend, averaging more than one workout a week on two wheels, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. And while indoor cycling classes have been a mainstay in gyms and health clubs for years, hundreds of dedicated cycling studios have popped up in cities across the country in recent years, commanding as much as $32 a class with sell-out crowds and wait lists to boot. Ready to see what all of the buzz is about? Read on for a complete guide to indoor cycling for beginners.
What Is Indoor Cycling?
While you can certainly hop on a stationary bike in the cardio area of any gym, indoor cycling classes are known for energy-infused music and motivating instructors who guide you through an imaginary course during a 45- to 90-minute class. Following the instructor’s cues, you’ll “climb” hills by cranking up the resistance on the bike, increase your pedaling speed for short interval bursts and challenge yourself more than you likely would pedaling away solo. Each class typically begins with a warm-up and cool-down period of less-intense pedaling, and most instructors lead you through stretches at the end of a session.
Spinning for Outdoor Cyclists
Indoor cycling can have a place in the training repertoire of even the most dedicated outdoor cyclists and triathletes, and not only by offering respite from bad weather. Practicing in a standstill setting offers a chance to build turnover speed, leg strength and hill-climbing technique. An instructor with cycling experience can also help you work on your body position and form—just ask.
Indoor and Outdoor Cycling: Which is Right for You?
No doubt about it, both indoor and outdoor cycling are great workouts, and which one you select may largely come down to personal preference. Still, each one has pros and cons that you may want to consider when making your choice:
- Indoor cycling may be better at keeping your heart rate up. While both can achieve this goal, American Council on Exercise research determined that indoor classes reliably crank your heart rate nearly to its max. With an instructor guiding your intensity, you are more likely to continue to push yourself than if you were riding solo. Plus, indoor cycling doesn’t present you with obstacles—pedestrians, traffic lights—that may slow you down.
- You may burn more overall calories with outdoor cycling. Both can burn up to nearly 700 calories an hour for a 150-pound individual, but outdoor rides tend to go longer than indoor ones—sometimes for hours—which will increase your total calorie burn.
- There’s no freewheeling indoors. When you’re cycling outdoors and you have plenty of momentum or are going downhill, you can spin your pedals without any resistance, giving your legs a break. That’s not so indoors, where the resistance is constant.
- The hamstrings get extra attention indoors. Both workouts are great leg strengtheners, working the entire lower body and especially the quads. But the extra weight of the flywheel, the mechanics of your indoor bike, gives your hamstrings a little extra challenge.
- The core gets a tougher workout outdoors. With the exception of new indoor cycling bikes that are designed to lean from side to side, the sturdiness of most spinning bikes means you don’t use your core muscles to steer and balance like you do on the open road.
- It’s safer to be social indoors. Research shows that it feels easier to exercise with company. But it can be tough to do so safely on busy roads outdoors, while cycling classes are all about group synergy.
- The scenery is better outdoors. There’s nothing like being amongst nature—feeling the wind in your face, seeing the trees as you whizz on by. The changing setting may engage your senses and interest, helping to keep you motivated.
What to Know: Your First Indoor Cycling Class
There’s no need for newcomer fear here. With indoor cycling, you can go at your own pace without worrying about getting left in the dust. Here are a few things to know before you go:
Dress for comfort. Two things to keep in mind when dressing for an indoor cycling workout: You will sweat (a lot) and your rear end may get sore. Skip heavy sweats, which will soak up the sweat, and opt for lighter or wicking fabrics. And consider fitted bike shorts (ideally with seat padding) to cut down on chaffing. You can wear cycling or Spinning shoes, which clip into the pedals, but regular sneakers work well. Just be sure to tuck your shoelaces into your shoes so they don’t get stuck in the crank.
Bring a towel—and a water bottle. Airflow in studios may not be good enough to help evaporate sweat quickly, so you may need something to wipe away moisture; wipe your seat in between songs, too. Be sure to sip on a water bottle throughout your session to replenish yourself and stay hydrated.
Arrive early. Not only do spinning classes tend to fill up fast (some even have wait lists), but you’ll want time to set up your bike or ask your instructor for help doing so.
Adjust your bike. Don’t be tempted to skip this step: Making sure your saddle and handlebars are positioned right for your height can make the difference between sore muscles from a good workout and a sore back, neck and knees from an improper bike fit.
- Seat height: Start by standing next to your bike. The seat should be at about hip level. Now, get on the bike and pedal one foot forward to the bottom of the stroke. Your leg should be fully extended with a slight bend in the knee.
- Seat position: Put your hands on the handlebars and pedal forward until your feet are even. Your elbows should be slightly bent, shoulders relaxed and your front knee should be over the center of the pedal. If not, move the seat forward or back until you find the sweet spot.
- Handlebar height: For your first class, position the handlebars slightly higher than the seat. As you get more experienced, lowering them and leaning forward will engage more of your core.
- Pedal fit: If you’re wearing regular sneakers (which is perfectly OK) you’ll want to adjust the “cage” so it fits your foot snuggly with your shoe centered in the pedal. If you decide to get serious about indoor cycling, then you can consider upgrading to clip-in shoes, which can help you pedal more efficiently.
- Introduce yourself. Even if you’re already an avid outdoor cyclist and know how to adjust the seat and handlebars on your bike without help, identifying yourself to the instructor as a newbie will ensure that she’ll explain everything thoroughly and not assume you know the lingo during the class.
Goals, meet achievements.Canyon Ranch® Wellness Resorts
Beginner’s guide to indoor training: all you need to get started
While we all agree that cycling outdoors is wonderful, there are plenty of reasons to add indoor training to your repertoire. It’s convenient, it’s not weather-dependent and you won’t end up with a muddy bike and wet kit. Plus, you can do targeted workouts to improve your stamina, speed, cardiovascular fitness and more.
- Cycling fitness: 25 top tips to be a better rider
- Winter training tips, advice and reviews
- Which indoor training solution is best for you?
If you’re new to the world of indoor training, you can be faced with a dazzling array of pricey equipment and accessories. However it’s perfectly possible to get a good setup without the breaking the bank.
As a general rule, the more you spend the quieter and more efficient the trainer setup you’ll get, often with features such as cadence sensors, adjustable resistance to simulate climbing, and even power meters and sensors that detect the smoothness of your pedal stroke.
This guide will take you through all you need to consider to get set up and started with indoor training. We’ve got loads more advice, focussed workouts and tips online so you can refine your workout as you progress.
Smart trainer, turbo trainer or rollers? Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
- Rollers, turbo trainer, smart trainer or static bike?
1. Find the right training space
Some people go all-out, turning their garage into a ‘pain cave’ dedicated to hours of indoor training. However, if you’re just getting started you don’t need to go quite that far.
- Tips for building the ideal indoor training space
You’ll need an area, ideally inside or at least sheltered, that you can set up your bike and trainer, plus a little shelf or table at the front.
Any space will do, but if you want to keep it set up to make hopping on for a quick session more efficient, you’ll want it out of the way of normal life activities.
Bear in mind that the equipment is fairly heavy and that you are likely to sweat a fair bit, so a wipe-clean floor is preferable to a carpeted area. If you only have a carpeted area, put down something like a mat first to protect it.
If you’re planning on using rollers rather than a turbo trainer (more on each below) then unless you are already skilled in getting started on them, you may prefer to set them up near a surface you can hold on to or in a door frame.
The other thing to consider is noise. Indoor trainers can be quite noisy machines and you’ll be standing up and powering along on it while you’re training. If you live in a shared house you may want to keep it away from quieter spaces, or find a relatively soundproofed room to do your workout.
2. Choose your preferred type of trainer
There are a few different types of indoor trainer.
Turbo trainers are probably the most common and range in price, features and complexity from simple budget choices to high-end smart trainers with all the whistles and bells.
All turbo trainers work with a bike. At the cheap to mid-range the bike fits onto the trainer with a skewer through the rear axle and the rear wheel resting against a cylinder which spins when you start to pedal.
You can increase and decrease the resistance on most smart trainers to simulate riding uphill and to give yourself a harder workout.
This kind of trainer can wear down a wheel, so you may want to consider purchasing a turbo-trainer specific one that’s much more hardwearing and popping that on the back wheel instead.
Towards the mid-range of the spectrum, you can also find direct-drive turbo trainers. These have a cassette attached to an internal housing, so you remove your rear wheel and hook the chain onto this cassette, with a skewer through the rear dropouts and the turbo itself.
The advantage here is not having to replace the rear tyre: you can just pop your rear wheel back in when you want to take your bike for a ride outside. Often these also quieter.
Rollers are great for improving balance while training Simon Lees
Rollers consist of two parabolic free-spinning cylinders on which the bike stands. When you start pedalling, the cylinders rotate to simulate the ground moving beneath your wheels.
Since there is nothing holding the bike upright other than momentum from pedalling, they give a more natural-feeling ride. This is both an advantage and disadvantage: it’s great for improving core strength and balance, but can be tricky to get started, hence why you should try it the first few times near something you can hold on to.
If you want to splurge on your setup you can buy a high-tech smart trainer that’s designed solely for indoor cycle training. These aren’t your regular gym- or spin-class bikes, they will usually offer the ability to monitor your power output, your pedal stroke, cadence, heart rate, and much more. Wattbike is one such example.
- If you’re not sure which to go for, check our guide to finding the best training solution for you.
- The best smart trainers
- How to ride on rollers
3. Get the right indoor training accessories
Indoor training is hot, thirsty work and you are likely to sweat buckets. Make sure you have a bottle (or two!) of water in easy reach so you can drink as you train.
You can buy mats to place under your trainer which offer a couple of benefits: a mat keeps the setup stable and stops it moving about, and it’ll protect the floor and help stop your floor getting soaked. If you don’t have one, consider putting a towel down underneath you instead.
Keep another towel on the handlebars to catch drips and wipe that hard-earned sweat from your brow (and neck, and chest, and back…). You can even buy a special sheet that fits over your bars and top tube to catch those errant drips.
Because of the heat, it’s a good idea to exercise in a well ventilated area if you can, and set up a fan to blow air at you throughout your workout. Believe us, that cooling air is absolute bliss!
If you’ve decided to follow an online workout or join an online program such as Sufferfest of Zwift, you’ll need to have a screen or laptop set up in front of you so may need a mount. You may find a set of speakers or headphones are necessary too to hear what’s going on, particularly if your trainer is loud.
4. Find a workout
While you can hop on and spin away while listening to music or watching your favourite film or TV show, you’ll get a much more efficient and targeted workout if you follow a program.
BikeRadar has a range of turbo trainer workouts available online Immediate Media Co
A quick Google search will throw up plenty of options, from guided programs to online videos that will take you through different workouts to focus on everything from fat burning to endurance to HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
- Turbo trainer workout videos — a complete programme for winter
While there are undoubtedly benefits to indoor training, it can feel like a chore. Handily, there are a few different things you can try to make it a bit more fun.
Online programs such as Zwift sit somewhere between an online training program and an online multiplayer game. As you ride, an avatar of yourself navigates a course through a virtual world with other riders around you — all training in real time in their homes and pain caves around the world.
Zwift is also popular with athletes so you may spot the odd cycling star spin past you.
Zwift and Sufferfest also have a variety of online workouts you can do.
- Heart rate monitor training for cyclists
5. Do a fitness test, then repeat
We’re not going to lie, this is going to hurt.
A baseline fitness test is, however, very useful for establishing your heart rate zones so you know what heart rate to aim for when training. It’s also good to check your fitness progression against, and update your training accordingly to ensure you’re getting the most out of it.
- What is FTP for cycling?
- How to measure your functional threshold power and how to improve it
- How to measure changes in your cycling fitness
6. Decide how often and when you want to train
The time of day you work out is going to be largely determined by what fits in with your lifestyle and preferences. Some people find that they work out better in the morning, others in the evening. If you’ve got other commitments such as work, family, classes, other hobbies and so-on it may be a case of fitting in a session when you can.
The first thing worth noting is that anything you do is better than nothing — 30 minutes three or four times a week is worth more than a rare two-hour session.
A good baseline to aim for is three 30- to 40-minute focussed sessions a week, with some longer rides outside.
Most of all, pace yourself, particularly if you are just getting started. You don’t want to go full bore and tire yourself out. It’s better to start at a sustainable level and keep it going, then up the duration or frequency of training when you feel you can handle more.
Article updated 6 February 2018
The calorie-torching qualities of indoor cycling are hard to beat—that is, if you’re making the most out of your session. Avoid these all-too-common speed bumps for the ultimate—and injury-free—ride.
—Amy Roberts, certified personal trainer
Holding on Too Tight
While it sometimes might feel like it, we swear the bike isn’t going to derail and shoot across the room. So try not to cling to the handlebars with the grip of a champion rock climber. “No white knuckles!” says Jessica Bashelor, owner of The Handle Bar indoor cycling studios in Boston, MA. “It’s waste of energy as well as the beginning of a greater problem—supporting body weight on your hands and wrists.” If yours are sore after a ride, that’s a sure sign. Next time, direct that energy toward tightening your core and balancing your weight over your midsection, glutes, and quads.
Another spot riders tend to clench, especially when the class gets difficult, is their upper body. You can picture it: The shoulders scrunched up around the ears, like they’re doing their best turtle impression. “The more you loosen your shoulders, relax the bend in your elbow, and keep your neck nice and long, the more you can focus your energy on your lower body and getting the most out of your ride,” says Bashelor.
Slacking on Resistance
Sometimes, with those endless “add another quarter turn’s,” it can feel like your legs might just stop turning entirely, or spin right off your body in protest. While most good instructors will tell you that your ride is what you make of it, it’s actually unsafe to zip along, hips bouncing all over the place, with no resistance at all. “This mistake can lead to hip and knee problems,” Bashelor explains. “Not to mention the instructor notices this ‘cheating’ from a mile away.” Her advice: Don’t show up for a ride just to let the bike do the work.
MORE: Your Best Biking Workout
Pushing Too Hard Without Pulling
The pedals have those toe cages for a reason, and clip-in shoes make it even more clear. The rotation in your legs isn’t just about how hard you can hammer through the balls of your feet, but also the power you can exert as you bring each foot back up and around. “If you focus on eliminating the pause at the bottom of your pedal stroke and really drive your knee up and out to complete your rotation, you’ll find more power as well as a better hamstring workout,” says Bashelor.
Attacking a Climb Right from the Start
When you approach a hill on a regular bicycle, your body position often shifts forward and backward a bit. Take this same tack on your indoor ride. Begin a climb with hands on the lower outside of the handlebars (position 2) with a decent bend at the hips. When it’s really starting to feel like a slog, move your hands to the straight part of the bars right in front of you (position 1), which raises the torso and increases your hip angle. You’ll notice an energy boost in your legs by the subtle change in your torso, says Bashelor.
MORE: Does Cycling Makes Your Thighs Bigger?
Doing Your Own Thing
It’s one thing to short-shift a tension increase a teeny tiny bit, but quite another to stand and accelerate when the instructor (and the rest of the class) are seated and slowly climbing a hill. Believe it or not, there’s a rhyme and reason to the ebbs and flows an instructor puts into her lesson plan—and it’s not just to match Beyoncé’s beat—both in terms of calorie burn and muscle use. “You may think going harder for longer than everyone else will give you a better workout,” says Cassie Piasecki, an indoor cycling instructor in Orange County, CA. “But it won’t. You are burning out your muscles and disrupting the class.”
Not Stretching After
You know how your hip flexors feel a wee bit cranky when you disembark your bike? Or maybe it’s your calves that are whimpering for a reprieve. Or your shoulders, despite your best efforts to keep ’em calm, are a bit peaked. And, of course, there are your quads, glutes, and hams—done-zo. So do them all a favor and give ’em a good stretch (ideally, even longer than the two-minute break you get inside the classroom). Your future self will be grateful.
MORE: How to Make Your Cycling Workout Count
Spin® Life Blog
It’s like riding a bike—literally. Spinning® movements correspond to moves you would do on a road bike. The Spinning program focuses on five core movements and three hand positions:
The five core movements of the Spinning program are as follows:
- Seated Flat – Hand Position 1,2 or 2.5
- Seated Climb – Hand Position 2 or 2.5
- Standing Flat – Hand Position 2 or 2.5
- Standing Climb – Hand Position 3
- Jumps – Hand Position 2 or 2.5
The five core movements correspond to the following three hand positions:
Much like golfers work on mastering the perfect swing, it is important in the Spinning® program to work on form and fluidity. Eliminating unnecessary movements will maximize the efficiency of your workout and leave you energized instead of fatigued. It’s the subtle improvements in your form, fluidity, pace and rhythm that will increase the benefits of each class you take.
Unfortunately, sometimes riders are tempted to “invent” new positions and movements on the Spinner® bike, which may put their safety at risk. Here are some of the questions that determine whether or not a movement should be used in Spinning® class:
- Can you perform the movement on a road bike? If not, don’t do it!
- Is there a better way to accomplish the same goal?
- Are you in control?
- Does the movement seem to have a physiological function, or is it just used as choreography?
- Is the movement safe and efficient?
- Does the movement feel natural?
- Does the move feel safe on your joints? Pay attention to your knees, elbows and lower back.
Excessive Upper Body Movement
Excessive upper body movement involves numerous unsafe movements that should not be used in a Spinning® class. A few of the contraindicated movements to watch out for include:
- Shoulder drops
First, if you did any of these moves on a real bike, you’d fall off! There is no increased benefit to moves like crunches or push-ups on the bike, so why not perform these correctly and more effectively on the ground or a stability ball? Besides being awkward and increasing the potential for joint and soft tissue injury, these moves place the upper body in a stressful position relative to the lower body. An exaggerated movement may cause your back and neck to move laterally while your legs are being driven in a linear circle by the fixed-gear pedal system.
Riding seated in Hand Position 3 might seem perfectly harmless, particularly since elite cyclists ride in a similar position using aero bars. Since triathletes have custom-fitted bikes with shorter top tubes, they can stretch into this position comfortably. On the Spinner bike, this hyper-flexed position may strain the back and can be uncomfortable, particularly for shorter individuals.
Riding with One Hand
Whether you’re doing a Standing or Seated Flat or Climb, riding with only one hand, or no hands at all, causes the rider to lose connection with the bike. When riding unsupported, it is difficult to maintain constant pressure throughout the pedal stroke; the rider can only mash downwards on the pedals. Riding with one or no hands is especially dangerous at a high cadence (110 RPM) or heavy resistance with the body leaning forward (as in a sprint). This position places considerable torque on the lower spinal disks. Also, if you’re riding with only one hand on the handlebars during a Standing Climb and that hand slips, you could fall onto the handlebars or flywheel. Similarly, if the foot slips off the pedal, it would be hard to steady yourself, which may also cause severe injury.
“Squats” and Other Isolated Movements
Isolating the lower body while pedaling might feel like a great exercise for the quadriceps, but it can place undue strain on the knees and spine. Instead, try a hill climb in Hand Position 2.
Do not pedal backwards or with one foot out of the toe cage or cleat. Pedaling with one leg is an advanced drill that elite cyclists practice on trainers—not fixed-gear bikes like the Spinner bike. On a Spinner bike, these drills have absolutely no benefit, since muscles work the same and burn equal numbers of calories pedaling forward and backward.
Jumping Too Quickly
Jumps are effective and challenging, but when they’re performed too fast, they don’t do any good. Since the focus of Jumps is to create smooth transitions between seated and standing positions, the key is proper speed. If Jumps are performed too quickly, the exercise is ineffective.
Riding at a high cadence without resistance is ineffective on a Spinner bike. Instead, ride at 110 RPM or less. If you begin to bounce in the saddle, increase the resistance. Riding at a consistent pace with good resistance develops power, strength and endurance.
Remember, the Spinning® program is easy to follow and designed to help you achieve your training goals. Use common sense and you’ll be riding injury- and pain-free for years to come!
Class Basics: Spinning
Spinning is a cycling inspired cardio workout set to music and led by an instructor.
During a spinning class, the instructor will guide you through a simulated road cycling routine. He or she may tell you to increase the tension on your pedals, but ultimately you determine how little or how much to increase. It is important to remember that you are always in control, that you determine the amount of effort it takes to pedal. Listen to your body, and just get into the music and have fun.
Typical Class Routine
1. Bike set up
Before class begins, you will adjust the bike’s seat height. Adjusting the bike properly is important to both your comfort on the bike and the effectiveness of your workout. The instructor can help you determine the correct settings for your body.
2. Warm up
You will begin on the bike by spinning with low resistance for a few minutes. During this time, the instructor will ask you to position the tension of the pedals to just where you start to feel pressure. This is called the base or recovery position. You will return to this position for rest throughout the workout.
3. Bike Challenge
This is the core of the group exercise class, and it will vary considerably based on the instructor. He or she will guide you through a series of increases and decreases in pedal resistance and speed to make you feel like you’re riding your bike outside.
4. Cool down
You will end the workout with stretching to help your body recover.
What are Common Spinning Movements?
Spinning consists of 3 hand positions and 5 movement positions.
Position 1: Hands placed in the center of the handles. This is used for warm ups, cool downs, or recovery from a fast interval.
Position 2: Hands are just inside the upward curve of the handlebars.
Position 3: Hands are on the top of the handles. This is typically used for a standing climb.
Spinning Movement Positions
Seated Flat: The most basic movement in the Spinning program, this position simulates riding on a flat road. It develops pedal stroke technique, and builds strength and stamina.
Seated Climb: This stance simulates riding up a slight incline and challenges the lower body muscles, including the gluteals and hamstrings.
Standing Flat: This position is an upright standing run performed with light or moderate resistance. This move targets the core muscle groups to improve leg speed and endurance.
Standing Climb: This position mimics riding up a steep incline. This move targets the leg muscles and builds strength and definition.
Jumps: Jumps are performed by transition in and out of the saddle with controlled movements. This develops overall strength, timing, and balance.
Proper Spinning Form
Like all exercises, spinning is only effective when you perform it with proper form and technique. To practice proper spinning form:
Keep your back straight
Use a pelvic tilt to increase leg speed
Move your knees in a straight line close together
Pedal in circles with flat feet rather than pointing your toes to the ground
Rest when you need to, regardless of what other students are doing
What to Wear to Spinning
Always wear tight-fitting clothes never baggy clothing that can get caught in the pedals. While not imperative, moisture-wicking clothes, padded cycling shorts, and cycling shoes are ideal for a comfortable workout.
Spinning Classes Near Me
Ready to give a spinning class a try?
The Worst Mistakes You Can Make at Your Indoor Cycling Exercise Class
Whether you’re new to cycling or are a spinning master, it’s pretty easy to mess up a few aspects of this killer exercise—and you might not even realize it. To make sure you’re working the muscles you’re supposed to work and preventing an injury, avoid making the mistakes that spin instructors see all too often. (Wait, is indoor cycling actually a good workout?)
You’re Not Dressing the Part
Your pants are too loose. Leave the baggy sweats at home—form-fitting leggings are your best bet on the bike, says Marion Roaman, general manager of Peloton Cycle. “Though most bikes are designed so fabric cannot get caught in the crank arm, it’s annoying to have clothes flailing around while you are riding to the rhythm,” she says. “Not to mention cycling is such a sweaty workout—the last thing you want is extra fabric hanging from your body.”
Your sports bra is weak. Sure, a spinning (btw not all classes use Spinning bikes—a trademarked brand) exercise class is non-impact (you’re not out pounding the pavement as you would in running), but there’s a lot of movement that can make your breasts, well, bounce. Roaman suggests wearing a super-snug sports bra to keep your girls comfortable.
Your shoes aren’t clipped in. “Cycling shoes allow you to connect directly to the pedal, providing a more secure stroke so you can forget about your feet and focus on your breath, form, and work,” says Jonathan Carlucci, a master instructor at Revolve Fitness. “The rigid sole also gives you more efficiency on the bike, helping you get the most out of your workout.” And once you’re clipped in, make sure you’re pedaling correctly—your feet should remain flat and neutral, rather than pointing the toes down, which can cause tension in your lower back. If you catch yourself doing it, Carlucci suggests pressing down in the heel to level things out.
Your Set-Up Is All Wrong
You showed up on time. Showing up two minutes before, or right as your spinning exercise class is about to start doesn’t allow any time to pack your stuff away, grab the right weights, or set up your bike properly. Which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, says Carlucci. Next time you add a class to the calendar, set it to start 15 minutes earlier so you arrive with plenty of time to get situated without feeling frenzied. (Related: 10 Ways to Have a Better Indoor Cycling Class)
Your seat is too low. Whether you’re a spinning exercise newbie or a seasoned pro, if you never took the time to learn the proper setup, you’re asking for a myriad of problems—including injury. “If you’ve ever woken up the day after a cycling class and felt that not-so-great soreness in your hips and knees, sitting too low is likely the culprit,” says Carlucci. Not to mention that a too-low saddle causes you to lose range of motion in your pedal stroke, he says, meaning you’re not making the most of each stride and short-changing your workout.
Instead, make sure to ask your instructor to find the right setting for your height. A quick rule of thumb: Stand next to the bike and position the seat to hit the height of your hipbone, says Kate Hickl, a master instructor and vice president of recruiting at Flywheel Sports. “Once you’re in the saddle, make sure you can reach the bottom of the pedal stroke with a slightly bent knee and flat foot.” Most bikes have a number associated with the seat settings, so take note of yours so you can easily make adjustments for your next ride.
You followed the elbow-to-fingertip measurement for your handlebars setup. When trying to figure out the correct distance between your saddle and handlebars (so, the spot where your bod will go), ignore that elbows measurement. “It doesn’t work because our arms aren’t always in the same proportion to our torsos,” explains Carlucci. And it’s all too common for riders to get set too far back, says Hickl. “This encourages unwanted rounding in the back and a tendency to bounce, causing an inefficient ride,” she says. To pick the perfect spot, hop on the bike and adjust from there. “Ensure you’re close enough to hold the handlebars comfortably—you shouldn’t have to lunge for them, nor should your body feel squeezed between the handlebar and the saddle,” says Carlucci.
Your handlebars are at the wrong height, too. Can you tell how important bike setup is for spinning exercise classes yet? Hickl says that as far as height goes, comfort is what really matters. “When handlebars are high, the rider is more upright and elongated through the spine and waist and it’s easier to keep the shoulders away from the ears,” she says. If you want a bonus abs workout, set them closer to your saddle height. “When the handlebars are low, a rider must work to minimize the rounding in the back—it requires a great deal of abdominal strength throughout the ride to maintain proper form.” No matter what, don’t set them lower than your seat height—that’ll put unnecessary pressure on your groin and cause a lot of strain on your lower back and shoulders, says Roaman.
Your knee bangs into the emergency brake. This means you’re too far forward, explains Hickl. Doing this—whether you’re in or out of the saddle—means you’re sinking into your joints, and you end up putting weight into your thighs or arms instead of engaging your core. The solution? Push your hips and booty back so your weight is right over the saddle.
Your Form Needs Work
You’re not following the workout. Your instructor is setting you up for sweaty success, so listen closely to determine how much resistance should be on your wheel during your spinning exercise workout. “A good instructor will describe the terrain you’re riding—a flat road or a heavy hill, for example—and how hard you should be working,” says Carlucci. This isn’t the place to march to the beat of your own drum. Stick to the instructions and you’ll likely feel a mental boost too, as many classes are set up to “ride as a pack” to bolster team camaraderie. (Try this at-home cycling workout when you want to save some cash.)
That resistance is too low. “All too often I see people riding with too little resistance,” says Carlucci (yep, it’s obvious when you do it). “Resistance is where the magic happens. If you’re looking to burn calories, you do it by powering through the resistance, by upping your challenge, by increasing your workout output.” In other words, the more you crank that knob to the right, the stronger you get. Not to mention that a too-low resistance makes your cadence too fast, putting you at risk for damaged joints. How can you tell there’s not enough during your spinning exercise class? “If your hips are bouncing or your pedal stroke is too loose or your shoe pops out of the clip, those are sure signs,” he says.
On the flip side, your resistance could be too high. If you can’t match your pedal stroke to the beat of the music, or stay within the RPM range that your instructor is coaching, turn that knob to the left until you can. “If your instructor is coaching you to feel breathless and be working hard while staying with the beat, your resistance should be high,” says Roaman. “If they’re cueing you to take it easy while sticking to the beat, it should be light.”
You fling your elbows out during a “tap back.” It’s one of the most popular moves in spinning exercise classes these days, and it’s designed to activate your glutes and core by driving your hips backward, “tapping” it over the saddle without fully sitting. But if you fling your elbows out to your sides (let’s be honest, it’s usually done to accentuate the movement when you’re feeling the music), you add tension to your shoulders and take away some of the booty-blasting effect of the exercise, says Roaman. Instead, keep your arms close to your sides, with a slight bend in the elbow, as you tap back.
You party too hardy on the bike. We get it—a rockin’ playlist makes you want to groove on that bike like it’s 1999. But swaying side to side throws your body off-balance, forcing you to grip the handlebars tightly. Instead, channel that energy into perfectly matching your cadence to the beat (and crank the resistance if that feels too easy)—and add a little head-bang for good measure.
You death-grip the handlebars. Those babies are there for stability, not support. Relying on them to support your weight takes away the core and quad work you’re after, says Carlucci. Flutter or flex your fingers during the hard parts (we do it a lot during sprints out of the saddle) to check in on form throughout the class.
You don’t pull up on the pedals. It’s all about finding the perfect balance in your pedal stroke to make your stride as efficient as possible. “If you’re just pushing down, you’re overtaxing your muscles,” says Hickl. “The downstroke will happen naturally, so if you focus on lifting the opposite foot, you’re engaging the hamstring and glute muscles, and balancing the work in your legs from front to back.” Translation: Don’t make your quads do all the work—letting your hammies in on the action gives you more power.
You don’t let the music move you. “A good instructor will know how to curate a playlist that is true to himself or herself, while simultaneously appealing to as wide an audience as possible,” says Carlucci. “Like a good meal, it should have hints of several flavors. They’ll know how to finesse the musical phrasing and dynamics in relation to the physical activity on the bike, appearing to have command over that beat.” So if you’re not really jibing with the tunes, try a new spinning exercise class until one clicks. You’ll leave feeling even more invigorated.
You skip the stretch. It’s one of the most important parts of the workout, so opting out nixes your jump start on the recovery process. Plus, it’s annoying. “You’re opening the door and letting all that light stream into a dark room, disrupting that experience the instructor is working so hard to create,” says Carlucci. If you catch yourself doing this on the reg, consider hitting up an earlier class so you’re under less of a time crunch. And if you need to leave early for something unexpected, just signal to the instructor that you’re OK—otherwise, they’ll worry you’re injured.
You Overlook Your Upper Body
You skimp on the weights. Just because you’re only lifting one to three pounds doesn’t mean your muscles aren’t going to quiver. “Go for a weight that’s challenging, but sustainable,” says Carlucci. “At the beginning, the weight might feel comfortable, but by the end, you should be pretty taxed and ready to be done.” In other words, if you’re not mentally begging for it to be the last rep (while still being able to maintain good form), try bumping up to the next weight level. That said, Roaman recommends not going over six pounds for this workout. “Two- or three-pound weights in each hand is perfect for a nice, toning set of arm work,” she says. “If you go above that, you’ll likely start to pull from your lower back, neck, and shoulders and sacrifice proper form.”
You fan out your elbows during triceps work. They’re a staple in every spinning exercise class, but if you do them wrong, you’ll miss out on the muscle-firming action. Start with your elbows in a 90-degree angle, the weight directly behind your head. As you lower and extend, keep your elbows close to your head—we like to think about grazing our ears, for reference—to make the most of every rep.
You hold your breath. Remember, your muscles need to breathe too. Breathe in through your nose during the eccentric part of the exercise (when you “release” the muscle during the rep), and out through your mouth during the concentric portion, when the muscle is doing the hardest part of the move.
You stop pedaling nor take off all the resistance. The focus is on your upper body during this segment, but stopping all motion in your lower half will make it that much harder to get going again. Roaman suggests keeping light to medium resistance—it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to continue pedaling—and focus on keeping your core engaged to stabilize your upper body while you work.
If you’re feeling the January slump and searching for a new fitness challenge, spinning could be just the answer you’re looking for.
We (three members of the Red team) tested out a 3 week spin challenge at one of London’s coolest fitness studios – Psycle – to see how taking up regular spinning for a brief few weeks could transform our fitness, as well as our mental and physical appearance.
Follow our journey and see how our bodies, outlooks and attitudes changed after three Psycle classes a week, for three weeks.
Agreeing to undertake three weeks of intense spin classes was a daunting prospect for all involved. None of us had exercised properly in months and all of us were recovering from on and off colds, sniffles and infections which had resulted in a lot of sick and work from home days. To be frank, we were feeling more than a little lumpy and thoroughly underwhelmed with our health.
Enter Psycle, the spin studio (who also offer Barre, HIIT and yoga) who claimed to be able to help boost our morale (and reduce our waistlines) with their upbeat brand of indoor cycling.
Left to right: Sarah Ilston, Anya Meyerowitz, Roanna Day
Follow our Psycle journey over the course of the 3 weeks:
“Suffice to say, I am Out Of Shape. I have always been a little on the wobbly side but about 18 months ago I used to be curvy and strong with my bum doing the right thing in jeans, now however I am curvy and wobbly with my bum doing the decidedly wrong thing in jeans.
Signing up to three spin classes a week for three weeks seemed, if I’m honest, a little insane. But also a challenge I was so ready to relish. I wasn’t happy with my body and maybe this could get me back on the right track?
The first class was hard. So hard. My body protested with every pedal “why are you moving so much?!” it screamed at me as I sweated in position three. But while my muscles screamed and my glands sweated, my soul soared. I’d forgotten how good it felt to be in an exercise class. Especially one with pumping music, dimmed lighting (this is key) and a downright uplifting instructor.
On the morning of our second class I was excited to get back on the bike but boy did I hurt. I was paying the price for throwing myself into it when I was so out of shape. So. Much. Pain.
After the third class I am verging on broken but so very proud of myself. As a bonus I feel part of something. Psycle is like a family: welcoming and warm and everyone just feels part of the crew. By Friday sympathy is required for all sat near me as I grunt and groan every time I move. A weekend of long, hot baths is required.”
“I had tried a Psycle class before – just once and at the height of my gym bunny phase. As a fluid 24-year-old who went to the gym six times a week, I seemed to glide through that initial class and the heavy beats blasting out into the studio were as comforting to me as a large bowl mug of herbal tea is now.
As a 28-year-old though, whose gym habit has dropped to a sporadic bi-weekly visit, my first week back was somewhat different.
I loved the total disconnect from the dreary winter street outside
I still loved the music and the lights – the total disconnect from the dreary winter street outside – and the high five at the end of the class from the instructor (akin to being patted on the shoulder by your school teacher). However everything in between was different – and it was hard.
My legs felt like lead and I struggled to keep on the beat in the first class. Psycle is all about cycling to the rhythm and I just couldn’t seem to find it. Just when I felt I’d managed to get in step, the beat would change and off I would go again trying to recapture it.
I left feeling like the next few weeks were going to be much more of a mountain then I had anticipated but after a bout of illness it felt good to get my body moving again.
By the end of week 1 I was a bit broken but so proud of myself. I almost felt teary as the last song came on (Blinded by your Grace by Stormzy) and we stretched out our aching bodies. I felt smug and buoyant for the rest of the day – I even booked my own exercise class for Saturday to keep the momentum going.”
“I had to miss the first session due to a family funeral. But the others went ahead without me and fed back their shock and horror afterwards. The general consensus being that we were all drastically unfit, and this was going to be no easy ride.
I found my first class pretty difficult. My desire to keep up with the rest of class was overruled by my fear of going too hard and passing out again, so when the instructor yelled to turn up our resistance dials, I just left mine where it was most of the time.
After energetically asking us ‘What’s stopping you? What’s holding you back?’ All I could do was run a list through my head of the perfectly legitimate reasons that were holding me back:
- Drastically unfit
- Fear of passing out
- My poorly judged peanut butter on toast breakfast
I leave with a strong suspicion I will lose the full function of my arms and legs tomorrow but looking forward to the next class, now, I’ve somewhat conquered my fear of blacking out and falling off the bike.
By the end of week 1 I notice my sleep has improved drastically. I’m sleeping longer and harder and have such amazing amounts of energy in the day. I feel like an actual girl boss.”
Psycle London, psyclelondon.com
“My plan of bounding into our second week of classes with wild abandon is scuppered by being hit by the lurgy. The fitness Gods are clearly not in my favour.
However, not one to quit easily (read: stubborn) I force myself back onto the bike and proceed to teeter on the edge of death for the full 45 minutes. It felt harder than any exercise class ever has. I left in awe that my body managed it and in need of a very large hot honey and lemon.
Happily by the end of week two my cold has subsided and I’m back to pushing myself to the limit. I’m getting better at riding to the rhythm and am starting to feel at home on the front row.
I feel powerful and attractive and wonder why I’ve been slumming it in jeans and a polo neck?
Not only am I feeling fairly smug I’m also feeling confident and find myself wearing a dress I haven’t even considered in months. While my weight is much the same crucially my attitude isn’t. I feel powerful and attractive and wonder why I’ve been slumming it in jeans and a polo neck for so long?”
“This week started out HARD. I know this because in my notes afterward I simply wrote ‘eugh’.
For all my trying to focus on the joy of music I couldn’t focus on anything other than the fact I felt uncomfortable. I had to lower my resistance right down in order to stay on the beat and if I took my eyes off the mirror for a moment I noticed that I was significantly slower than everyone else when I looked up. I gave myself a pep talk afterward and vowed to fuel properly that evening to give my body what it needed for the rest of the week.
I decided to set myself a goal to help me get through the rest of this week’s classes: ‘Just don’t overthink it and see if you can stay on the beat,’ I told myself.
And it worked – I felt invincible, truly invincible and empowered as I bobbed my way through the class. I stayed on the beat for the majority on it and the sense of achievement only helped me feel stronger as the class went on rather than tiring. ‘Gosh, isn’t life a gift’, I found myself thinking later, still sporting my post-workout glow.”
“Kicking off this week was the the same instructor as my first (hellish) class again, he puts a lot of focus on double time (which raises your heart rate very quickly and I struggle with). I’m also really tried today, all my energy has been zapped. This could be because I haven’t exercised since last Thursday, or maybe because I didn’t sleep that well. However, even feeling tired and getting pretty dizzy at one point I stuck with it and left feeling super proud of myself.
I had a lot of energy, I killed myself in the class and felt incredible afterwards
Having the same tough instructor for the second class of the week made me determined to do well in his class, sparked an inner-fire and, I nailed it. I had a lot of energy, I killed myself in the class and felt incredible afterwards – it gave me so much energy for the rest of the day.
My muscles are now aching quite a lot – my thighs, bum and arms are all burning (which I secretly like as I’m trying to tone up my arms significantly in the hope of wearing sleeveless tops again without fear).”
Psycle London, psyclelondon.com
“I am a complete convert and reach week three devastated that these are our last three classes. Psycle has become my therapy.
I practically bound to each of our classes this week and while I’m still finding them incredibly tough I’m on rhythm every track and find myself flowing through the choreographed moves with ease.
I am so impressed with my body coming so far in so short a space of time. A miracle! My jeans that I bought because my old jeans didn’t fit anymore (Ahem) are decidedly baggy but more importantly I am full of energy, positively vivacious.
Psycle, I will be back.”
“With the end of the challenge in sight I really wanted to give it my all –I could do that for 45 minutes I told myself. I had begun to recognise the instructors and they had begun to give us a knowing smile as we walked in, which made the harsh lights of the studio feel less intimidating. I was also feeling better in my clothes and noticed my legs were looking better.
We ended our challenge with my favourite instructor – smiley, supportive Becky – and it was really fun. The music was great and the routine was an interesting mix of fast-paced and slow, grinding uphill climbs. I noticed that the parts of me that hurt at the beginning didn’t hurt anymore – though other, newly reacquainted, parts of me burned.
I ended my final class running out before the final stretch due to starting my period.
I ended my final class running out before the final stretch due to starting my period. Hardly the glorified finish I had imagined but a finish nonetheless. I didn’t have a body like a supermodel but I definitely felt tighter all over, less wobbly, and proud of myself. I actively wanted to exercise again for the first time in ages.”
“We had a new instructor for our first class of the week, and she loved mixing up the speeds from fast to very fast, without much emphasis on keeping on the beat. Reflecting on other classes with different instructors, I realised keeping on beat really makes the class so much easier, not just because the moves are easier to push your body into and it’s so much less effort than moving to your own beat, but moving with the class ‘en-masse’ feels amazing and really sucks you into this club-cult mentality. Scary-sounding but highly addictive.
As a result, I didn’t enjoy this class as much as others, we also sat at the back as todays’ studio was smaller, meaning I didn’t try as hard as when I’m in the front row spotlight. If you want to push/ guilt yourself into doing your best, I’d recommend sitting up top, Or at least the second or third rows – don’t hide in the dark at the back!
I was fairly sceptical of this last class, as it was booked in for 8am in the morning (I am not a morning person), AND I was going to a PR Christmas party that dangerously went on until ‘late’, the night before. However, my self-confidence that I would resist alcoholic temptations was in full force and I looked forward to the last class, with my now-favourite instructor, with vigour; knowing my way around a Psycle bike pretty well by now.
Sadly all my good intentions went out of the window the night before and I spent our last spin class together secretly turning down my resistance, trying not to bring up everything I drank the night before and get through the class in one piece.
My energy levels and stamina had gone up, along with my confidence on a spinning bike
I did get through it, without too much pain, which I really don’t think I would’ve been able to do three weeks ago.”
“My energy levels and stamina had gone up, along with my confidence on a spinning bike. Able to keep up with seasoned riders, hitting the beat and feeling fantastic (not words I ever use lightly) and just a tiny smug afterwards are just some of the benefits I’ve found from our three week Psycle challenge. I’ll be booking in for regular weekly classes after this without a doubt. I think the ‘spinning high’ I’ve heard so much about (and been secretly jealous of) in the past has finally hit me.” – Sarah Ilston
You can find Psycle’s full class schedule, including their extensive barre, yoga and pilates offering here. With 4 studios in Shoreditch, Oxford Circus, Westbourne and Clapham.
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Sarah Ilston Sarah is the Deputy Editor of Red Online. Anya Meyerowitz Anya is a freelance editor and journalist with a penchant for coats, shoes and handbags. Roanna Day Roanna is the Digital Editor of Red Online.
Hands up if you think spinning bears no resemblance to cycling outside and has zero benefits for a real-life cyclist?
Having given it a go, I’ll agree on the first point – traditional spinning classes are nothing like cycling.
However, an exercise which strengthens many of the muscles we need on the bike but barely utilise as we pedal, and burns around 800 calories an hour, isn’t something to be sniffed at.
Spinning is big business and as such new studios open up every year, especially in busy cities where time efficiency is crucial to success (or survival).
How closely related the class is to outdoor cycling will come down to the instructor, but outside of the cycling-specific classes taught at dedicated spaces like Athlete Lab in London, most will differ tremendously from the turbo torture sessions we’re used to.
The Athlete Lab set up is very tailored to cyclists. Image: Athlete Lab Studio
>>> The benefits of cycling
Dr Frances Mikuriya teaches spin, and TRX – a body weight-based strength and stretching tool – at Body Machine Performance Studio in Kensington, and explained: “For me, indoor cycling and outdoor cycling are two very different things. However, it can really benefit your outdoor cycling.”
Mikuriya’s indoor classes are called ‘SpinAddikts’, and she founded the first private indoor cycling group in London, in 2004. Since then she’s picked up a wealth of clients from various sports, including those who put the bike first.
“I have a lot of cyclists who come to train with us here. They realise it’s very different, it’s a very intense session, in one hour you can burn 800 to 1000 calories. Also, I do pretty much all the work off the saddle. That’s very different from being outdoors, but dedicated bike riders – for whom cycling is their key sport – feel the benefits.
“One guy I train rides with a team, and he used to always be the weakest on the climbs, but after using these sessions, he’s found he can now catch up with the team because his core got so much stronger – by which I mean mid-thigh up, the glutes, the obliques. A lot of people don’t use those muscles, but if you do it’ll make you faster on the hills and protect your back from injury.”
>>> How to recruit your glutes
“Some cyclists come in, and treat it like a road bike, crank up the resistance, and don’t really follow the class – you can’t have that mentality to act like it’s outdoors because this is completely different. It’s not a replication of an outdoor bike, but it really compliments it.”
Spinning instructor and GB age-group duathlete Sam McClary agreed, telling us: “Short sharp bursts of sprints and hill efforts interspersed with active recovery and longer intervals to test strength and endurance all help to push your lactic acid threshold, annihilate fat, burn calories and build muscle.
“Given the right instructor and the right set of tunes, you’ll push yourself harder than you do on the road.”
That said, the out the saddle work used at many spin studios will come as a shock to the system for a cyclist used to being unseated for short periods, so it’s advised that those new to the discipline do portions of the class bum down until they’ve built up the strength required to stay upright for an hour.
Mikuriya likes to finish her classes with a bit of monkeying around on the TRX bands upstairs – this can be targeted towards strength or stretching depending upon the goal.
“Cyclists who ride for hours and hours get really tight through the hip flexors, and it really is a problem, and on the TRX you can really open up. And we can do a lot of shoulder stretching to reverse the hunched position created by the bike and office work.
Image: Body Machine Performance Studio
“It’s excellent for strengthening core, glutes, hamstrings too. Some cyclists might find they have some imbalances between left leg and right leg, so this is excellent because once you start doing single-leg exercises, you will realise if your hips are shifted or you wobble on one leg, so it’s really good for alignment and to improve power on the bike.”
Putting a spin class to the test
Having been enlightened towards the benefits of spinning of course I had to give it a go.
I was reassured when Mikuriya confirmed that there would be no mid-ride press-ups, figure eights or other ‘entertainment’ as per other studios, “how can you keep a strong core if you’re throwing your hips around?” she had asked.
As a road, track and crit racer, I was a little less enamoured with the fact that most of the session would be completed with zero contact with the saddle. On the plus side, the bikes came fitted with 4iiii crank arm power meters, Look pedals and a lot of adjustability so at least I felt a hint of familiarity.
Within the first 10 minutes I’d already drafted a mental WhatsApp message to my coach, explaining that tomorrow’s gym session was not going to happen, because my quads were screaming at me and the DOMS had begun before there was even time for the apparent delayed onset.
Image: Body Machine Performance Studio
Leading the class Mikuriya passed on instructions based in RPM and resistance level, beginning with shorter forays into fast ‘bursts’ and ending with more resistance via five-minute climbing replications.
After 30 minutes, my heart rate had soared into the relentless mid 190s multiple times and I felt as though I was verging on a metamorphosis into a puddle of salty water.
Needless to say, it was with relief that I clambered off the bike, and with a new-found respect for the sultans of spin.
The TRX class which followed was mainly focused around stretching, with a few strength exercises thrown in – the single-legged piston squad being a personal nemesis of mine which the straps gave me a fighting chance of performing.
Image: Body Machine Performance Studio
Spinning, in the sense of a traditional spin class such as this, is absolutely not the same as outdoor cycling and performed without outdoor riding wouldn’t be ideal for a bike racer. I also wouldn’t advise sporadic spinning, because the new muscles used will impact on the rest of your riding week. However, I can certainly see a place for a bi-weekly session, used to strengthen the core and work on leg speed, alongside normal routines on the turbo and outside.
Spin class basics: how do they work?
A spin class is a high-intensity cycling workout that generally takes place on a stationary machine with a heavy, weighted flywheel that is linked to the pedals.
The result is a fixed gear bike (like a track bike) – your legs are constantly moving and you have to apply pressure to slow them down. You can’t simply stop pedalling and that means that every second of the available time is put to good use.
>>> Indoor cycling apps compared: which is best for you?
Most spin classes last for around 45-60 minutes; it’s rarely necessary for them to be any longer and participants can expect to leave sweaty and with heavy legs. However, they can last longer, Body Machine sessions can keep going for as many as 90 minutes.
Nearly all classes will be led by an instructor who calls out intervals (when to pedal hard and when to slow it down) – and this person has a huge effect on the class.
A class that advertises itself as being designed to aid your outdoor cycling performance might be led by a qualified cycling coach who may focus the intervals on skills needed in a bike race – often based on power zones. In comparison, other classes like the one described above will place a greater importance on all-over conditioning. Both promise a thorough workout and it’s really down to personal preference.
Can anyone take part in a spin class?
The handy thing about spin classes is that they allow riders of all abilities to push themselves as much as they like, in the same place. So an Olympic champion can train alongside a complete novice without either placing any impact on the other’s training.
Spin bikes have resistance dials – so a stronger cyclist can turn their dial right up to the max, whilst a beginner may want to be a bit more restrained. No one gets dropped and no one gets frustrated.
>>> Fitness: Why amateurs shouldn’t try to pedal like Chris Froome
“Classes can also be modified for each individual as the resistance you add to your bike is linked to your own personal rate of perceived effort. Eight out of 10 may look very different for the new spinner and seasoned cyclist but it will feel exactly the same for both riders,” McClary said.
Tips for your first spin class
Body Machine/Peter Bennett @peterbennettphoto
Going to give it a go? Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your class…
Spin classes vary dramatically. If you want a fun fitness vibe, look for one that focuses on the music and lights side of the show. If you’re after specific race-related intervals, look for one led by a qualified cycling coach.
Get there early
Leave plenty of time to make sure you don’t get saddled with the dodgy bike that everyone else knows has a useless resistance dial. You’ll also want time to set your bike up to match your measurements and to swap the pedals if you’re clipping in.
And take water, and a towel: It’s going to get sweaty.
Expect weights and ‘tap backs’: There will be some elements you wouldn’t expect from a standard cycling class – be prepared to try something new, but know everything will be explained so you won’t be left scratching your head.
Expect DOMS the next day
‘Delayed onset muscle soreness’ rears its head when you use muscles in a way they’re not used to. You might be perfectly OK with riding 100 miles on the weekend, but that doesn’t make you immune to muscle pain following your first spin class – plan an easy ride the following day to spin the legs out.
Keep the pedal stroke smooth
Riding a fixed gear bike can pay huge dividends in optimising your pedal stroke. The constant pedalling will naturally train your legs, but you can help the process by keeping a focus on the entire movement – both the downstroke and the oft forgotten upstroke.
Don’t death-grip the handlebars
It’s easy to get carried away during a hard interval, holding the handlebars with the kind of grip you’d apply to your top tube if the bike was at risk of falling off a cliff. But doing so takes away from the core strength element that you can gain from using your trunk muscles to keep yourself upright.
To get the position right, draw your stomach in and tense your pelvic floor muscles. Try to concentrate on your position wherever possible – especially when getting in and out of the saddle.
Spinning 5 Days a Week Wasn’t Helping Me Lose Weight. Here’s the Workout That Did.
After quickly plateauing while taking spin classes all the time, Inge Thickening knew she needed to add strength training to her plan.
By Caroline Cunningham· 8/14/2018, 8:00 a.m.
Photographs courtesy Inge Thickening.
Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email [email protected]
Who: Inge Thickening, 37, a nurse practitioner from Fishtown
Why I wanted to make a change: “I decided to make a change about 18 months ago. I was unhappy with the way I looked in my clothes. I had an injury in 2011 and suffered a fractured ankle. I had been an active person and the injury was a setback, in addition to an extremely hectic work schedule. I was inspired to make a change because of the weight gain I was in a great deal of pain that was affecting my ankle and was really limiting my range of motion and my ability to sustain prolonged walking. I was also just sincerely fed up with not being at my best physically and not being comfortable with what I saw in the mirror.”
Starting weight: 218 pounds
Current weight: 153 pounds
What all changed: “I feel like a brand new person! Everything has changed and improved. I’m stronger physically. I also did a lot of research about they types of workouts that provide the most neurological benefits. There’s a lot of research out now about exercise and it’s neurological benefits such as improving your mood and also prolonging and in some cases preventing the onset of degenerative brain disease.”
How I changed my exercise plan: “I initially started out spinning just because I had done that before and felt confident doing that. I was spinning five days a week, and I plateaued quickly. I heard about kickboxing from a co-worker. I started that and added that to spin five days a week. I plateaued there as well. Through reading, I knew I needed to lift weights to speed up my metabolism and to build muscle that I wanted. So I heard about RippedPHL from a spin instructor and decided to try it. I started there a couple days a week. I did know know how to use weights or put together a routine for results that also had a fast pace, so RippedPHL met that need for me. I built myself up to daily workouts there. So as of now I work out everyday, six to seven days a week, at least an hour a day. But most days (five to six days a week) I work out two hours a day.”
How I changed my diet: “I didn’t cut out any food groups. I really modified my behavior around activities and food, like mindless snacking while watching TV, regular happy hours, etc. I became mindful of what I was eating and actively decided to only eat meaningful, nourishing food. I used apps like MyFitnessPal to plan my meals carefully. I focused on protein, healthy fats, and whatever carbs I needed. I cut out added sugar and stayed away from sugary fruits to get over any insulin resistance that I most likely had so that I could lose weight.”
“Those days when I really didn’t feel like working out and would rather be doing anything else, I worked out anyway. Those end up being the most rewarding workouts.”
The hardest part: “The hardest part were the plateaus. Those take a huge mental and emotional toll. Trust me, I cried, made frantic phone calls to my parents and siblings, was angry. I got through it by being realistic and seeing what I honestly could change, improve, add to get over it. Mostly, I didn’t lose hope and give up. I just kept going, and eventually I would break through. Also, those days when I really didn’t feel like working out and would rather be doing anything else, I worked out anyway. Those end up being the most rewarding workouts. I just never allowed myself to take easy way out.”
What I’m most proud of: “I am overwhelmingly happy about no longer being intimidated by fitness or workouts on any level. I am most proud of the fact that I made a promise to myself to change and I kept that promise and goal.”
What I want everyone to know: “Most of us, provided we are in good health, are not powerless to change our bodies and achieve our fitness goals. Also, there’s a deep connection between the mind and the body, and not only will you look better, you’ll feel better.”
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Speed vs. Resistance on the Indoor Bike
How to improve your cycling workout …
Indoor cycling is an effective, low-impact way to break a sweat, but you want to make sure you’re using this equipment to its maximum benefit. With cycling, you’re in full control of both the resistance and speed, so whether or not you have a strenuous training session is in your hands. This leads to the question: when your legs are pumping and the wheel is flying, which is more important — speed or resistance?
Cycling follows the same basic principles as all forms of exercise. Working against an opposing force builds muscle, so in order to increase your strength capacity, you need to add resistance. Pedaling with very low resistance may feel like you’re working hard because you’re moving so fast, but it will do little to strengthen and tone your legs. On the flipside, you don’t want to set the resistance so high that you can barely move the pedals. Also important to remember, always make sure your bike is properly set up at the start of your ride so you’re in an ergonomically correct position and prepped to work hard.
Aim to maintain a cadence (measured on the cycle console in revolutions per minute or RPMs) of 80 to 100 RPMs on “flat ground” (low to moderate resistance) and 60 to 80 RPMs on “hills” (moderate to high resistance). If you find yourself struggling to maintain 60 RPMs, decrease the resistance. Setting the resistance too high can put added stress on your knees, hips and back and should be avoided. If your feet are pedaling at more than 110 RPMs or you’re bouncing in the saddle, bump up the resistance until you’re in control of your foot strokes and feel a slight burn in your muscles.
For the best of both worlds, simulate hill climbs by increasing the resistance for a set period of time before returning to a lower-exertion level. Performing intervals of high- and low-exertion exercise, known as high intensity interval training (HIIT), can be an excellent training method to lose body fat and improve cardiovascular conditioning. Try alternating between 30 seconds of high resistance in the standing position and one minute of lower resistance in the seated position.
If you want more guidance during your cycling sessions — with the added bonus of killer music and an energizing group environment — attend a class. The instructor will tell you when to speed up or increase the resistance, ensuring that you get a challenging and well-rounded workout.
Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock, Jacob Ammentorp Lund.
Keeping your body fit is not optional. You must engage in regular exercise to keep your body in shape. Stationary exercise bikes are now available on the market.
They come to aid in your everyday workouts. On the market, you will find different types of exercise bikes. We have upright, recumbent as well as indoor cycling exercise bikes.
These types of bikes come with different construction structures and operating systems. Purchasing an exercise bike demands the conduction of in-depth research. You must understand how a given bike works before deciding on buying.
Apart from having different sitting positions, exercise bikes differ in the resistance.
We are here to prevent you from buying an inappropriate type of exercise bike. Our aim is to equip you with knowledge on the different kinds of resistance in exercise bikes. Knowing what goes on below the casing of a bike will put in a better position of going for the best product.
That said, it’s only right that we go straight to the point.
So, what are the different ways used in exercise bikes to generate riding resistance? Let’s find out.
There are four different types of resistance used on various exercise bikes. They include:
- Brake-based systems Resistance
- Direct contact resistance
- Magnetic resistance
- Fan based resistance
In this article, we concentrate on reviewing these types of resistance. We bring you everything you need to know before rushing into the market for an exercise bike.
1. Flywheel-based systems resistance
Taking a closer glance at most home workout bikes, you will notice that most of them come with a flywheel. A flywheel is a mechanical part that stores rotational energy.
It’s a heavy weight metal disk that resides on the front side of an exercise bike. It replaces the wheel on the ordinary road bike. In most bikes, the flywheel is not visible. It comes covered with a sturdy casing.
The flywheel connects to the cycling pedals through a belt or chain. This connection resembles that of a road bike. As you continue to ride, the flywheel stores the momentum generated. It only releases it once used to completion.
To generate high resistance to a rider, the manufacturers make the flywheel heavy. It can be around 40 to 50 pounds. Rotating the wheel at the start is, thus, an upward task. This is one of the ways of generating riding resistance in an exercise bike.
It helps in working out and could help one lose some few calories at the start of each exercise session.
Limitations of the flywheel-based resistance.
- Impractical when used solely without the other methods of creating resistance:
The weight of the wheel is a limiting factor. One may need a heavyweight flywheel to achieve high resistance. To have a heavy weight flywheel, you will have to use a large flywheel.The exercise bike would look impractical. Judging from the look of such a bike, many would dismiss it.
To prevent this occurrence, exercise bikes use the efficient alternative methods of creating resistance. Methods like magnetism and direct contact operate on one primary principle. They all aim at braking the flywheel thereby generating resistance.
2. Direct contact resistance
The friction principle is the main idea behind the direct contact resistance. Sturdy breaking pads find their use in this method. The braking pads fitted along and above the flywheel help in creating the braking effect.
Once the pads are in contact with the flywheel, its rotation decelerates. It becomes resistant to increasing the rotational speed of the flywheel. A reduced riding speed is the result of this process.
The resistance created poses a challenge to you. You have to use extra pedaling force to reach the higher cycling speeds. As a result, your workouts advance from the norm to higher intensity.
The direct-contact is accurate and reliable. It allows you to select your preferred resistance level. Different exercise bike models that use the direct contact resistance feature high resistance levels.
You will find bikes with unbeatable levels of resistance. The levels resemble gears on a real road bicycle. You are free to customize your workouts. The brake pads come from different sturdy materials.
Some brake contact resistance systems use friction bands instead of brake pads. The resistance bands sit on the edge of the flywheel.
Pros and cons of the direct contact resistance systems
- Unbeatable resistance:
Overcoming the resistance created through the direct contact method is tough. It takes a lot of time to overcome it. You don’t get used to the bike with ease. With the different levels, you are free to start at the lowest levels as you advance your body fitness.
- Wear and tear:
Direct contact or friction based resistance bikes tend to go through extreme mechanical abuse. They tend to wear and tear as time goes by. With time, one might have to replace the braking pads or friction bands. The flywheel might also tear apart.
The replacement cost varies with different exercise bike models. Going an additional charge is not pleasing at all. Thus this ranks as a drawback to the exercise bikes that use this type of resistance systems.
The direct contact resistance system is entirely mechanical. The exercise bikes that use this type of resistance tend to produce too much noise. They tend to be disturbing during the workouts. This is a drawback as compared to those with magnetic resistance.
It becomes hard to work or read while exercising on these exercise bikes. Families and neighbors will also feel disturbed by the noise.
3. Magnetic resistance
For many years, direct contact exercise bikes had dominated the market. Anyone who needed a high-performance exercise bike would prefer the direct contact resistance. Today things have changed. The direct contact bikes have lost their position to the Magnetic resistance bikes.
Magnetic resistance is a solution to the problems associated with the direct contact resistance.
So, how do bikes with magnetic resistance operate? Let’s find out.
Bikes which operate with magnetic resistance generate the resistance through a series of steps. The resistance system in these bikes utilizes the flywheel and two powerful magnets. In this case, the flywheel acts as a magnetic conductor.
As one cycles, the flywheels continues to rotate. The flywheel interferes with the magnetic field between the two magnets. The resulting attraction of the flywheel brings about a resistance force.
The magnets do not touch the flywheel. The resistance opposes riding efforts. You need to use more force. You can increase the resistance level through the knob or buttons suited on the console of a given bike.
Pros and cons of Magnetic Resistance
Friction resistance comes with many limitations. The magnetic resistance aims at eliminating all the drawbacks in the friction resistance. Exercise bikes with magnetic resistance have a significant competitive advantage to those with the direct impact resistance.
- Quiet and smooth operation:
Unlike the direct contact resistance, magnetic resistance operates well. No parts come into contact to create the resistance. With a bike that utilizes magnetic resistance, you will enjoy your workouts. The environment is always quiet.
You can thus catch a movie or read a magazine while working out. Again, you can use the bike in residential areas with noise restrictions.
Mothers with young children will find bikes with magnetic resistance more convenient and reliable. They offer no disturbance to your baby as he/she takes a nap.
- Marked levels:
Friction resistance bikes don’t offer marked resistance levels. You are to estimate your preferred resistance level through the knob. On markings are there to guide you.
Also, after turning the knob, the resistance remains constant throughout the workout. Cycling at high RPM will not increase the resistance in any way. You have to twist the knob to alter the resistance.
Magnetic resistance bikes are completely different. Levels of resistance come predetermined by the manufacturer. There are indications on the console on the resistance levels. You are free to set your preferred resistance through the buttons on the console.
Also, the magnetic resistance changes with the cycling speed. The higher the bike speed, the greater the resistance. This is due to increased interference with the magnetic field by the fast-rotating flywheel.
- Less maintenance:
Friction resistance bikes need regular replacement of pads. Lubrication and dusting are also necessary due to wear and tear of the moving parts in contact. The maintenance cost of the friction resistance bikes is high.
Magnetic resistance is completely different. No parts come into contact. No wear and tear of the bike’s components occur. This means that neither dusting nor regular lubrication is necessary.
You only need minimal maintenance with the bikes magnetic resistance exercise bikes. The only maintenance may be tightening of wires and screws. This maintenance should come after some few years of regular workouts.
- Hard to overcome:
One can configure the magnetic resistance to extreme levels. It can stop the entire flywheel from the slightest movement. The resistance created through magnetism is usually more than enough for the workouts. It could take you forever to get used to the resistance generated through magnetism. You keep on improving your fitness to high levels. The workouts also become attractive with the tough challenge.
Exercise bikes that use magnetic resistance are more costly than those with friction resistance. Magnetic resistance is quite costly to generate. The resulting exercise bike is expensive. But, the benefits that come with magnetic resistance bikes are worth the investment.
4. Fan-based resistance
The fan-based resistance is entirely different from all the other types of resistance. It does not use a flywheel. It uses a massive resistance fan in the place of a flywheel.
Instead of creating magnetism or friction, this type of resistance comes from Air. The fan connects to the bike’s pedals through a pulley system and a sturdy belt.
So, how do the fan-based exercise bikes operate?
The resistance generation in fan-based bikes is simple. The fun is set to start as you start pedaling. It begins turning at a slow speed with the first cycling turns. As you advance or increase the cycling speed, the fan rotation increases too.
The air resistance on the fan’s blade increases with the fast rotation of the fan. If you need more riding resistance, you will have to ride faster.
The fan-based resistance seems complicated to beginners. But, as you proceed with the workouts, you will get to know how to use it.
Pros and cons of the Fan-based resistance
- Quiet and smooth operation:
The fan-based action involves no contact between the moving parts. Moreover, it even eliminates the flywheel. No noise results from its use. You can thus use such bikes even at home.
- Cool breeze:
As the fan rotates, it creates a breeze that hits your entire body. It helps in cooling your body. You are free to engage in intense exercises as you will always be comfortable and fresh.
- Less maintenance:
The absence of moving components minimizes the maintenance needed in the fan resistance bikes. Only molecular alignment of the fan’s blades is necessary. Also, you might need to tighten the screws after many years of use.
The fan-based exercise bikes need great expertise to setup. Their performance also sets them apart. As a result, they are more expensive than the regular exercise bikes.
So what is the best resistance to use?
Each type of resistance comes with its pros and cons. The magnetic resistance exercise bikes are the most recommended. The performance of magnetic resistance is outstanding.
The bikes with magnetic resistance are easy to use. Those with fun-based resistance come in second. Finally, the direct impact resistance exercise bikes come in third.
Your choice will depend on your needs. Go for an exercise bike that suits your requirements in the best way. The right resistance will help you attain perfect fitness within a short while.
Understanding of the different types of resistance helps in getting the right exercise bike. The construction and performance of a given bike are among the factors to consider.
Go for a bike that suits all your needs including budget, height, and weight.