6 Things an Indoor Cycling Instructor May Not Tell You But Should

Always modify the moves to suit your own needs.

Yes, it’s group exercise but one of the beauties of indoor cycling classes is that ultimately it’s your ride: It’s between you and the bike. So if you have lower back, hip, or knee issues, you may want to think twice about riding in a standing position with heavy resistance. If you’re just getting over an illness or injury, you should take it easy the whole class so you don’t have a relapse (it’s best if you tell the instructor beforehand so she doesn’t try to push you). 

No cyclist is too advanced for a recovery interval.

During an intense indoor cycling session, including a couple of bouts of active recovery, in which you pedal at a lower resistance and slower pace, is a great way to help your body and mind recharge and get ready for the next drill or segment. This way you can ride harder and maintain your energy for the duration. Plus, recovery intervals help flush excess lactic acid from the body and increases blood flow and oxygen circulation to fatigued muscles, tendons, and ligaments, so you’ll feel better throughout the ride.

Getting breathless now and then is a good thing.

Some people think that if they get breathless during a sprint or intense hill climb, it means they’re out of shape. On the contrary, it means you’re pushing yourself out of your current comfort zone and helping yourself get into better shape! In fact, the mark of how well you’re developing physical fitness isn’t how high your heart rate goes but how quickly it comes down to the recovery zone after you complete a strong effort. So don’t be afraid of going breathless occasionally as long as you recover well; if, however, you feel continuously winded during an exercise class, see your doctor. 

Struggling to turn the pedals means there’s too much resistance on the bike.


Cranking up the resistance until it’s a struggle to keep the pedals moving smoothly and your cadence drops to 40 or 30 RPMs might make you feel like you’re really pushing your limits—but it’s a bad idea! For one thing, it can place excessive stress on your knees, hips, and lower back. For another, if you end up pulling on the handlebars to get the force you need to keep the pedals turning, you could injure your shoulders and upper back, too. Even if you don’t hurt yourself, you’ll cause greater and faster muscle fatigue and deplete your glycogen stores (forms of glucose your muscles rely on for energy) more quickly. A bad idea all around! So keep your resistance where you can handle it.

Keep breathing continuously and smoothly!

We all (instructors included) tend to take breathing for granted. It's important to pay attention to your breathing patterns because breathing properly during indoor cycling or any other workout helps you stay focused, energized, and strong. Simply put, your body needs the steady flow of oxygen to perform well. Nevertheless, nearly every class has at least one cyclist who breathes shallowly, pants audibly, or even holds his or her breath when the riding gets tough. Some of these breathing patterns can lead to hyperventilation, which can trigger dizziness, anxiety, palpitations, and other unpleasant symptoms.

It’s a mistake to leave without cooling down and stretching.


Just as you ease into an indoor cycling workout with a warm-up, it’s important to taper off the session with a gentle cool-down period. Yet, there are always a few cyclists who shirk the cool-down and head for the door as soon as the challenging part has ended. That’s unwise because the cool-down allows your heart rate to come down slowly and your circulation to adjust to the end of the workout, thereby reducing your likelihood of experiencing lightheadedness, nausea, or other unpleasant symptoms. Cooling down can also help minimize post-workout muscle soreness and fatigue. So dial down your intensity for 3 to 5 minutes before hopping off the bike then spend a few minutes stretching. Later, you’ll be glad you did!

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