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Indoor Cycling Tips
Indoor Cycling Classes: How To Improve Your Fitness Level
One of the very best ways to get (and keep) fit is by participating in indoor cycling classes. Just about every large gym offers them at convenient times, either mornings or evenings.
Here's what a typical indoor cycling class is all about ...
- They usually last 60 minutes
- The bikes are specifically designed for this type of class and different from stationary bikes
- An instructor is available to monitor the class and motivate you
- You will cycle to a soundtrack of lively/energetic music
- You will experience one of the best low impact aerobic workouts imaginable!
How An Indoor Cycling Class Is Structured
Assuming it is a 60 minute class, about 45 minutes are actually used for intense aerobic work. At the beginning, there's a 5 minute (or so) warm up period, and a similar cool down segment at the end. The remaining minutes are used for stretching once you dismount the bike.
The music generally dictates the pace of the class. As you might imagine, warm up and cool down songs are a little more mellow, while training zone songs are more energetic and intense.
Depending on the instructor, the music will vary. A great instructor (like ours) will vary the music and play a little of everything, from classic rock to pop to techno to Top 40. As an example, one recent class had a Kelly Clarkson song, a disco song from the 70's, and "Crossroads" by Cream from the 60's. So yes, the music is all over the board!
During class, you're being coached and motivated by the instructor. The intent, of course, is to ensure you're getting a great workout and improving from session to session.
We'll talk about do's and don'ts in a few minutes, but one thing you should know is that unlike most fitness classes, you can go at your own pace. Beginners need not fear an indoor cycling class! The key is proper form, a willingness to exert effort and improve, and not taking yourself too seriously.
Indoor Cycling Class Do's And Don'ts
Indoor cycling classes are one of the best workouts you can get. They're ideal for folks who can't tolerate higher impact activities like high-low aerobic classes, running, or stair climbers.
And yet, like any form of fitness activity, there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. In order to get the most out of indoor cycling classes, be sure to follow this list of do's and don'ts ...
Here's What To Do In Your Indoor Cycling Class
- Enjoy yourself! Fitness shouldn't be dull, boring, or a chore. The group environment and music should make an indoor cycling class more interesting than, say, walking on a treadmill. But try to leave your stress at the door and focus on having a good workout and enjoying yourself.
- Hydrate. Cycling rooms can get a little hot and humid, especially when they are full of people working out. It is very important to bring a bottle of water into class with you. We recommend at least 20 ounces if not more.
- Set up your bike seat properly. This is probably the most important "do" for safety issues. First of all, make sure your bike seat is set at the proper height. To test it, sit on your bike and peddle all the way to the bottom. Look at the angle of your knee. If it is bent more than ever-so-slightly (10 degrees), your seat is too low. If your seat is too low, it will cause stress on your knees.
- Positioning of your handle bars. The handle bars are also adjustable, just like your seat. They should be at a comfortable height. You shouldn't have to reach or hunch over to grab the handle bars; rather, your arms and hands should rest comfortably upon them.
- Wear loose fitting, breathable clothing. As we mentioned, it gets hot and humid in a cycling room. Wear loose fitting clothing made of breathable, comfortable material to help minimize the discomfort from heat.
Here's What NOT To Do In Your Indoor Cycling Class
- Don't be intimidated or put off. Yes, there will be people in class who have done hundreds of indoor cycling classes. Don't worry about keeping up with them. It will all come in due time. Focus on your own workout and do the best you can.
- Don't "bounce" in the saddle. We are amazed at how many times our instructor has to state, "No bouncing!". What this means is, no bouncing your bootie in the bike seat. To be clearer, take a look in the mirror while you are peddling. Is your torso bouncing up and down because your rear end is bouncing in the saddle? If so, add resistance. If you are "bouncing", you don't have enough resistance on the bike.
- Skipping out on stretching. Stretching at the end of class is very important, so don't skip it. Plan your schedule ahead of class so you have enough time to participate in the short stretching segment. It is particularly important to stretch your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings after a strenuous cycling class.
- Don't fear the resistance knob! Repeat after me, that red resistance knob is your friend. Adding resistance to your bike is what makes the difference in your results. You've already dedicated the time, why not make the most of it? Your instructor will tell you roughly how much resistance to put on your bike, but you are the one in charge. Give yourself permission to become uncomfortable. Challenging yourself is what will create positive changes in your fitness level.
If You Can't Get To A Class ...
Here's what to do if you can't make it to an indoor cycling class ...
Many people don't have access to a gym, let alone an indoor cycling class. If this is you, there's a great solution that will not only help motivate you toward your fitness goals, but will let you experience a virtual cycling ride through exotic locales.
We've found a great source for Indoor Cycling DVDs that are actual "ride along" sessions through outdoor terrain. These rides are narrated and have a musical track that is appropriate for the location.
Some of these dvd's take you through a ride along the coastal waters of Hawaii, while others transport you to the mountainous Alps of Italy. There are a variety of rides, and you simply peddle along and experience a great workout!
Most virtual cycling dvd's are an hour in length and also include a cool down and stretching session, just like an indoor cycling class.
These workouts are perfect for those who need to workout at home or otherwise can't make classes at a gym. Try one and see!
Indoor Cycling Accessories You'll Need
Like any sort of fitness activity, indoor cyclists utilize a number of accessories that make their life easier. Here are a few of the most popular indoor cycling accessories ...
- Gel Bike Seat Covers - The first time you participate in an indoor cycling class, let's just say your rear end will be a little sore after class. The seats on these bikes are somewhat less pliable than a typical bike seat and as such, your tailbone won't be used to it. A gel bike seat cover is designed to fit over the seat and "soften the blow", so to speak.
- Heart Rate Monitors - As the name implies, a heart rate monitor lets you check your pulse rate and see how you're doing (how hard you're working) during class. Some instructors will tell you to take your heart rate and ask you to monitor it by a specific percentage. A heart rate monitor is a great hands off way to do this since they attach to your wrist, exactly like a watch and close to the pulse point in your lower arm. You can find these at many indoor cycling stores online.
- Indoor Cycling Shoes - Of course, there are specialty shoes for any type of fitness activity, and cycling is no exception. Cycling shoes can be fitted with special clips on the bottom which are designed to clip onto the tops of the bike pedals. This is actually quite helpful because you won't have to strap your feet into the pedals; conversely, your feet will be on top of the pedals, allowing you more freedom and the ability to exert greater effort.