7 Hazards of Rushing Your Indoor Cycling Workout

Even if you're pressed for time, don't skimp on these preparatory measures.

Hurry, hurry, hurry! At certain times of year, you may feel like you’re trying to cram too many activities and errands into too few hours, which can make you perpetually late or crunched for time. The result: Rushing through everything, which makes it harder to enjoy what you’re doing and often leads to mistakes. When it comes to indoor cycling, rushing into, out of, or through a workout can lead to injuries and other ill effects.

Here are 7 hazards of hurrying that can compromise your workout or your well-being.

If you’re late for class, you might:

Neglect to set up your bike properly.

What can happen: You’ll compromise the comfort and efficiency of your ride and increase your risk of injuries and post-workout soreness if you don’t take a few moments to set up your bike to suit your body. Move the seat to a proper height and distance from the handlebars (so your knees are in the proper position when both feet are parallel to the floor on the pedals) and raise or lower the handlebars to suit your preference.

Skip the warm-up.

What can happen: You can strain your muscles if you go full throttle without letting your core body temperature rise gradually, your circulation to increase, and your muscles to become more pliable with a gentle warm-up. This can compromise your performance during the workout and perhaps increase your risk of injury.

Take 3 to 5 minutes to warm up slowly—it’s time well spent!

Forget to bring a water bottle.

What can happen: You could get lightheaded and dehydrated and run out of steam if you don’t stay well hydrated during the ride. Consume 40 ounces before, during, and after a 40-minute cycling class. (Longer rides require even more hydration.) This is a non-negotiable part of preparation!

During the class, you might:

Add pace or resistance too quickly.

What can happen: The too-much-too-soon approach can lead to muscle strain and pain or a more serious injury. The best way to get a safe, but effective indoor cycling workout is to gradually increase your pace or cadence and your resistance—and to avoid cranking it up so much that it’s a challenge to keep the pedals moving. That’s a recipe for injury!

Skip recovery intervals.

What can happen: You won’t maximize your benefits from indoor cycling. Recovery intervals, pedaling with light resistance on the bike so your body and mind have a chance to recharge after a sprint or rigorous hill-climb, allow you to recharge your energy, catch your breath, and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to fatigued muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This helps you go hard again.

If you leave the class early, you might:

Forgo the cool-down.

What can happen: Quitting abruptly without letting your heart rate come down slowly can lead to blood pooling in your lower extremities.

When you climb off the bike, you may experience a rapid drop in blood pressure, a shortage of blood being sent to your head and heart, and symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, muscle cramps, and nausea. Spending a few minutes cooling down can help you avoid this phenomenon and recover more quickly from the workout.

Neglect to stretch.

What can happen: You may be extra sore the next day. If you spend a few minutes stretching the hard-working muscles in your lower body after the cool-down, you’ll prevent them from stiffening up later. This in turn can prevent or reduce post-exercise soreness and perhaps even enhance your overall flexibility.

The take-home message: Slow down and take your time to prepare for your workout and downshift afterwards. Your body will appreciate it.

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