You may be new to indoor cycling/spinning. You may have heard its a great way to burn calories. lose weight and improve your cardiovascular endurance and heart health. You may be an experienced rider who has made progress but still wants more results. One, some or all of the tips below will absolutely help you achieve your fitness goals in a cycle class.
- Listen to the instructor. (The assumption is that you are being led by a certified cycle instructor.) Obvious right? Are you really paying attention? Make sure your bike is adjusted properly so that you maximize power and limit your chances of injury. Even if you like it the way you currently have it set up, if a trained instructor recommends you change your seat or handle bar position, give it a try. It may even feel weird at first but that’s because you have had it wrong for a while. Bike set up is only one example. Listen to what he/she tells you before during and after a class. If you are unsure of something, ask questions. We instructors love answering questions and helping our riders.
- Actually turn up the resistance. I could have included this in tip one but its such a common instruction that people disobey, it earned its own bullet point. I’ll admit I have a hard time understanding why some people are so reluctant to add resistance. If it’s too hard, you can turn the knob back to the left. It doesn’t get stuck at ‘too hard.’ It’s not like one of those manual timers that only turn in one direction. You won’t get stronger and burn more calories by flying the wheel around super fast and twerking (bouncing) in the saddle. Ladies, your legs will not bulk up like a body builder. If you have genetically thicker legs, good for you! They will not get even bigger because you cycle with a harder resistance. This will help strengthen them and if you lose weight, they may be trimmer. If you want to build your legs, lifting very heavy weights will add muscle. This is actually a good thing and still won’t make your legs huge unless you are training on a body building/competition level. I’ve been cycling for 14 years, I have naturally slim legs and they have never gotten huge. Honestly you are missing out on a great workout by not exploring the resistance knob.
- Compete with yourself. Many studios and gyms today have bikes that give you measurements such as RPM- revolutions per minute, watts- power output based on speed and resistance, gears- resistance and MPH. These metrics keep us honest and give you objective numbers so that you don’t have to rely solely on perceived rate of exertion. If you spin consistently two or more times per week, you will notice you can go faster and steeper as your build strength, stamina and muscle memory. I regularly ask my classes, “Can you go faster than last time?” and “Can you handle more resistance or increase your watts?” Often riders tell me they covered more miles in a particular ride too. In addition to these measurements there are other ways to challenge yourself. Often new riders notice they can begin riding out of the saddle for longer and some people measure their heart rates and calories burned with a monitor or watch.
- Control what you can. So what can you control? Quite a bit. Yes we are busy and modern day life in the western world is quite demanding. I found exercising in the morning was the best way to avoid conflicts. The sacrifices are going to bed and waking up earlier and sometimes getting dressed for work at the gym. It’s worth it to me. You can control when you make (not find) the time to get to a class, how hard you work when you get there and how you plan your life so it happens consistently. Don’t miss a class if you don’t have to because things you can’t control like, storms, traveling for work, sick kids etc. will afford you breaks. You also need to have realistic expectations. Genetics play a role in how our bodies look. No matter how much cycling I do, I will never have a narrow waist or larger calves. You can change a lot with diet and exercise but not everything.
- Reward yourself with healthy meals, a spa service, nap, (so underrated) a new gym outfit or something other than junk food loaded with sugar, salt and fat. If you are in the vicious cycle of completing a tough workout then having a burger, fries and sundae, not only are you hindering your progress, but you are setting your self up to be discouraged and creating an unhealthy habit that can be tough to beat.