Top 10 Mistakes With Indoor Cycling Technique

I came across an article in the L.A. Times recently that covered a cycling studio that uses weights while on the Indoor bike. I began to wonder how far we will go with indoor cycling to make it so different and unique that it suddenly becomes unsafe and dangerous. Indoor cycling is an amazing cardiovascular workout and is extremely popular among all fitness classes offered around the world. However, as with all group fitness classes, there is concern that instructors try new and ‘exciting’ ways to do certain exercises on the indoor bike and some of these moves can cause injury. Along with Jillian Michael’s on The Biggest Loser as well as doing certain cycling techniques more often than not less is more when it comes to new ways to try and re-invent certain indoor cycling techniques. Many instructors use moves that may be dangerous in the name of creativity. Indoor cycling can be very safe, but make sure you are aware of the following top 10 mistakes that instructors make while teaching class or while using your indoor bike at home. Overall when it comes to designing and planning an indoor cycling workout: Less Is More! Focus on the beats of the music and try to keep it a simple cycling routine so that everyone in class can follow no matter what level you are. 🙂 Check out our classes at Roworx for more information about cycling classes!
1) The instructor should be certified as a group fitness instructor by a national accredited organization. There are so many indoor cycling programs offered now as cycling continues to dominate the group exercises classes around the nation. Nearly every bike has a certification and anyone who teaches classes should be well informed of proper cycling technique and coached on safe riding rules.
2) Music is going to be the most important aspect of a cycling instructors indoor cycling routine. Most instructors like to play the music very loud so be sure to be cautious of everyone else in class. Music is an integral part of indoor cycling, and the classes are notorious for cranking up the volume. You can try to speak to the instructor about lowering the music, but if that doesn’t work keep yourself out of hearing aids by wearing ear protectors in class.  You can purchase inexpensive silicone or foam earplugs that will reduce the volume while allowing you to hear.
3) Adjustments to the indoor cycling bike are very important in setting up an indoor cycling class. Making the proper adjustments can make a huge difference in comfort and overall calorie burn during class. The seat is typically as high as the individuals hip height where you would wear a pair of pants. To make this adjustment make sure you are standing by the side of the bike and use your hips as a reference point in order to get the right angle for pushing down into the pedal. The seat should also have a tendency to be more fore than aft while riding in order to get the best possible push and power straight down into the crank. This will burn more calories and will create less back tension and injuries. The handlebars should always be higher than the seat position in order to create a relaxed position and avoid any lower back injuries. Refrain from grabbing the handle bars too tight. Relax the arms and shoulders as much as you can while riding. If someone is a competitive rider or is used to cycling with a lower handlebar setting then make sure you tell them it is an aggressive position and warn them of possible back soreness before letting them have that body position during class. Outdoor cyclist or triathletes tend to always train with the handlebars lower than the seat in order to practice less wind resistance and be more efficient while taking that riding technique outside. A cyclist’s seat and handlebar adjustments and good form are keys to a safe ride. If you are unsure of the correct fit, ask a certified instructor before the class begins.
4) Make sure not to let anyone, including your instructors adjust the resistance on your bike. No one can know how much resistance you are feeling except for yourself. Ride at your own pace and level and hold yourself to your own goals and accomplish them at your own pace. Make sure to not to turn the tension too high where you find yourself barely able to turn the legs or even stopping the pedal rotation because the resistance is too high. This is bad for your knee joints and also the bike itself. If you were turn up the gear on an outdoor road bike while climbing uphill the chain would actually snap. (I’ve actually done this twice before :/ .. so it’s not realistic or effective strength training) If you’re like most people, when you first start taking indoor cycling classes, you may be conservative when adjusting the resistance on your bike during class. If the resistance is too low, you won’t get a good workout. Resistance is an integral part of your workout. It’s important to add and subtract resistance based on what the instructor asks you to do. I like to tell my classes that 100 percent resistance means your legs can’t move at all, so work from there accordingly. Also, pay attention to how it’s supposed to make you feel. If the instructor says you’re going up a hill, add resistance until you feel like you’re going up a hill. If the instructor says you’re on flat terrain, reduce resistance until it feels that way. Adjust your bike according to how you’d feel if you were cycling outdoors; this is a good way to ensure you stay on track in terms of resistance.
5) Do not use or hold weights while on the bike. Not only is it ineffective, but it is unsafe. You need your body and core stabilized to lift weights. Your instructor may tell you it will increase your heart rate, but any increase is caused by the “pressor effect”.  Instead, you will probably slow down your legs, reducing the actual intensity of the ride while you try to remain balanced on the bike.
6) Always move your hips and use your core while riding and never isolate them to put more emphasis on the quadriceps and hamstrings. By isolating the hips into one position it actually puts extreme pressure on the knees and joints.
7) Refrain from going faster than 120 RPMs at any point during your ride. The typical indoor cycling class should try and hold anywhere from 80-120 Rpm’s while pedaling. Anything faster than 120 Rpm’s (or what some programs like to call ‘Free-wheeling’) you run the risk of literally flying out of the pedals with your shoes or clips and can cause serious injury with hyper-extension to the knee joints or just by being hit by the crank while a 50lb flywheel moves the crank forward with tremendous momentum.
8) Push Ups on the bike are unsafe and not effective for core and upper-body strength building. If you want to get an upper body workout try out the EVO Indoor cycling bike for maximum core and upper body workouts. Be efficient and get the total body workout with the NEW EVO Indoor Cycling Bike. The Evo Fitness Bike’s RAMP™ Frame Swaying feature isn’t trying to simulate turning a bike; for that, you need the g-forces that can only be generated with momentum. Rather, the RAMP™ Frame Swaying simulates the natural motion of the body while pushing the pedals and balancing on a bike, as well as the upper body motion needed for standing sprints. Just like when you were learning to ride a bike for the first time, you need to learn to balance your body and engage your core muscles. You may not notice you’re doing it, but you’ll be working your entire body and have fun while you’re at it! When it’s time for an all-out sprint, you can up the resistance, stand up, and throw the bike from side to side as you race for the finish line.
9) Never take a leg out and pedal with just one leg at a time. If an individual has a leg out of the pedal while cycling to work on a one leg push they will run the risk of hitting their leg with the pedal as it comes around the back end. If you want to work the one-leg push on the indoor bike just power down one leg at a time while still tied in to the pedal and increase power with the opposite leg to get the same effect.
10) Where the proper equipment in a proper indoor cycling room setting. Cycling shoes with the standard indoor cycling SPD clips, athletic shorts, towel, light-breathable dri-fit clothing to promote cooling body temperatures, and water in a room at home or fitness center. Make sure you have access to proper air circulation! You do burn more calories in the heat however you can run the risk of overheating and dehydrating or even heat stroke. Always have the option to cool down as your body heat rises. Outdoor cyclists typically do not run into this issue because the wind while cycling usually cools your body while you sweat. With indoor cycling there is no wind so it can get hot quick especially with nearly 30 people or more in a cycling class.
The following video is one of my Top 5 indoor cycling workouts that you can use with proper technique while cycling. More videos to come…

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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