Changes Indoor Cycling Instructors Want You to Make

Expert opinions about tweaks that can transform your rides and your fitness.

In the indoor cycling classes I teach each week, I see certain patterns that stymie participants’ progress again and again. Many of these—such as not breathing smoothly and fully or not setting up your bike properly or having unbalanced pedal strokes—have been addressed in other articles. But there are others. For example, one of my biggest pet peeves is I continuously see indoor cyclists who have a mental block about turning up their resistance past a certain point even though I know they can do it.

Some of them even suspect they can handle the challenge but they have trouble pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, which limits their ability to build even greater strength and fitness.  

To find out what some of my favorite indoor cycling instructors wish their riders would change about their on-the-bike habits, I decided to ask: What’s the one thing you’d most like to see participants in your indoor cycling classes do differently to get more out of the experience? Here’s what they said:

“I want more people to buy cycle shoes because they allow you to have better push and pull on the pedals and a better positioning on the bike. Wearing [clip-in] cycle shoes also helps you feel more like you’re one with the bike, which makes you more efficient and less prone to injury. It’s a relatively small investment that can bring big rewards for indoor cyclists.”—Pamela

“I’m most concerned about indoor cyclists going too fast with no resistance or too slow with too much resistance.

Either way, there are risks: With too little resistance, you aren’t getting any real fitness benefits; with too much, you could injure your knees. Sometimes it’s hard to convince people to stop doing what comes naturally to them but there are good reasons for finding the sweet spot where there’s enough resistance and sufficient pace.”—Alex

“I want riders to add a bit more power to their pedal strokes. When teaching I generally try to mention some kind of pedal technique if we’re on a long seated stretch. Personally I like to tell riders why they are doing a certain drill and what will happen physiologically as a result. The power meters on the bikes can really reinforce an efficient pedal stroke as long as people are interested in listening and learning.”—Caroline

“Making sure to keep proper form and technique should be a priority. In particular, people’s off-saddle technique is where it gets a little weird so I do my best to remind participants to protect their knees with the proper speed, gear, and bike set-up, and protect their backs and shoulders by bracing the core, avoiding rounded shoulders, and not gripping the handlebars too tightly. I also remind them to maintain smooth, round pedaling with flat feet. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.”—Maria  

“I’m always hoping indoor cyclists will increase their intensity to make them stronger and fitter.

The best way to measure this is in watts, which is shown on the Keiser bikes [among others]. I’d like to see people push themselves to see how high they can keep the resistance and cycle at 100 RPMs for a short period of time like 10 seconds, 20 seconds, or 30 seconds. You can also try doing this for 2 to 5 minutes—the average wattage will slip the longer the cyclist tries to hold it. Pushing yourself to hold a higher resistance and higher RPMs for a longer period of time is a great way to see progress at all levels of fitness.”—Jodi

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