Get In the Saddle - Indoor Cycling

Some call it torturous, others exhilarating. But there's no denying it... indoor cycling is popular and an excellent cardio workout to boot. What sets group cycling apart from the boredom of a stationary bike is the camaraderie and motivation between riders. Oh yeah, there’s also the instructor in the front of the room, leading cyclists on a 'virtual' outdoor road race complete with hills, valleys, straight-aways and finish lines.

Indoor cycling classes are fun and exciting and you’ll physically push yourself further than going it alone. But, before you reserve your spot (classes have a set number of bikes) and start looking for the checkered flag, you'll need some pointers to help make your first ride smooth and enjoyable.

Are you ready?

This question is crucial. Most people can get through an indoor cycling class but make no mistake, this is an intense workout - even well-trained athletes will be challenged. It's easy to get caught up in an instructor's chant of 'Faster RPMs!' and 'Stand up, climb that hill!' even if your body is telling you otherwise. The most important thing is to listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Also, some homework before class will help you get ready and maybe even give your neighbor a run for his money.

Get in the saddle

Before you check out your first cycling class, it's a good idea to spend some time on a stationary bike. Although group cycling bikes differ slightly, a stationary bike can give you a good feel for what to expect. Chose a program where the incline and resistance levels change or change it up yourself – this will be most similar to a cycling class. As you get some solo sessions under your belt, increase the intensity and work towards completing a 40-minute ride (the length of most cycling classes).  In no time, you'll be ready to sign up for your first race!

Indoor Cycling 101

These helpful tips can make your first cycling experience a positive one:

Don’t make the dreaded mistake of showing up in your usual boxers or running shorts – you’ll be miserable half way through your ride. Opt instead for padded bike shorts or compression-type (not loose or baggy) undergarments to minimize chaffing.

All indoor bikes have adjustable components to customize the bike but the seat height is the biggie. The wrong seat height will decrease the productivity of your pedal stroke and increase the risk of injury to your muscles and joints. To get the correct seat height, make sure your knee is below your hip at the top of your upstroke and there's a slight bend at the knee at the bottom of your down stroke. For me, while standing next to the bike, I adjust the seat height to my waist – when I get in the saddle, it’s perfect.

Getting off your bike and running over to the water fountain during class isn’t convenient. Plan ahead and bring a full bottle of water so you can stay hydrated during your ride.

Of course the instructor will be setting the pace, increasing resistance and encouraging riders to stand up to get over a hill but ultimately, you set your own pace. You may be tempted to keep up with your neighbor but it’s OK to lower the resistance or slow down as needed.

Now you're ready to get out there power your way to the finish line!

This information and other information on this site is intended for general reference purposes only and is not intended to address specific medical conditions. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Prior to participating in any exercise program or activity, you should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.