Indoor Cycling: The Basics

I love indoor cycling.  The hills, the sprints, the core crushing pushes up in third position- I love it all.  Its a great way to burn lots of calories in a fun group setting- the music, the sweat, the synchronicity of it is a blast! I consulted a few of my favorite indoor cycling instructors about the do’s and dont’s so you can get the most out of your class and see results faster!
While indoor cycling is definitely a leg-focused workout, your core also plays a leading role: It stabilizes you, especially in second and third position, and helps you push hard when you turn the resistance up.  Take a class with an knowledgable instructor and you will most definitely have hear them say to focus on a “pulling up” motion instead of “pushing down”.  Pulling your leg up toward your chest uses less of your quad muscle (more of your hamstring) and taps into your core for assistance.
Its easy in class to start using your quad muscles the most- as you get tired, you may end up relying on your quad to push the pedals down for every rotation.  While its fine to be using your quads- I mean you really can’t get through a cycling class without using them- its important to keep your focus on your glutes and hamstrings. Mentally focus on shifting the power and the drive from your butt and the backs of your legs and I promise, you’ll start to feel a change- and soon enough you will see a change too!  And lets be real- what we really want to work is our booty and core!
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When you are out of the saddle, in second or third position, make sure to keep the seat right between your legs at all time- like intimately close!  Doing this ensures you aren’t riding too far forward up against your handle bars, which puts too much pressure on your knees which is a no-no!  Ride at the back of the saddle.  Don’t let fatigue make you creep forward!  If you ride with your legs too close to the handle bars, you’re using all quad and no booty, and you already know how I feel about that!
Another small yet important thing- loosen up that death grip on the handle bars!! When I ride, I rest my palms lightly on the bars no matter what position I am in and let my fingers hang loose.  Theres no need to hold on so tight- trust your balance by keeping your abs engaged at all times and you’ll be golden!
When riding up in third, keep your bounce to a minimum, your pedal stroke should be smooth and you shouldn’t be moving, shifting and bouncing all over the place.  It makes me crazy when I see people in a class who look like they have no control of their body movements, or they are doing a weird hunched up shoulder dance thing- it doesn’t look cute and its not helping their form at all!
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As with any exercise, always consult your physician before engaging in something new.
Keep it tight, keep it smooth, keep it all engaged.
Happy cycling!
XO Katrina
Photos taken at Flywheel Flatiron in NYC*
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