5 Things Indoor Cycling Instructors Wish You’d Ask Us

Is my bike set up correctly for me?


If you’re not sure, don’t just guess. Ask your instructor to check your bike set-up and if need be adjust the position of your seat (both the height and the fore-aft settings) and your handlebars so that you can maintain the proper form and posture while riding. Having the right fit between your bike and your body can mean the difference between a safe, comfortable, high-performance ride and an unpleasant one that could lead to injury or serious soreness.

Could you check my form or technique?

Even if your knees are in alignment with your elbows and your toes, and your back, neck, and head are in a straight line—you could have subtle postural snags that prevent you from getting the most out of your ride. Not long ago, a woman who was new to my classes asked me to check her form while riding in a standing position because someone had told her she was straightening her legs too much. Sure enough, she was having trouble staying hinged at the hips and would straighten her body on the upstrokes. I tried coaching her a few different ways to stay hinged forward at the hips rather than riding fully upright—but she couldn’t quite get it. So I took a different tack: I asked her to stop the bike while standing on the pedals and assume the slightly crouched racing position of a downhill skier; then I had her resume pedaling while staying in that position. She nailed it and felt the challenge in the right muscles. Sometimes it’s just a matter of how an instruction is cued, and an instructor can find a new way to say it if you ask.

How fast should we be going?

To get the most out of the ride your instructor has designed, you’ll want to follow her pace (or cadence) cues. So if you spaced out for a moment (hey, it happens) and you’re not sure if you should be aiming for 80 to 100 RPMs or 60 to 80 RPMs, ask. Most instructors would rather repeat themselves than leave you wondering or floundering; otherwise, you won't get the strength- or endurance-building benefits you should. The same principle applies if you’re not sure what your resistance should be—ask!

How can I get to the next level in resistance if I’m already pushing hard?


I routinely challenge my riders to achieve a new personal best in my classes. Sometimes people really can’t handle any more resistance on the bike while maintaining a safe pace— and sometimes they just don’t think they can. Recently, three of my regular cyclists asked me about this privately and to help them over that plateau, I suggested they edge up their resistance by one gear (or the equivalent) and try to maintain their previous pace for 20 seconds then drop that added gear and keep their pace consistent. As that added challenge becomes more manageable, you can push yourself for 30 seconds and so on until you have expanded your comfort zone. This strategy really works (I promise!) and if you discuss it with your instructor before or after class, she can coach you through it.

How should I modify the ride if I have bad knees?

This is an excellent question and you should ask the same thing if you have hip or back issues. With indoor cycling, safety comes first, and that applies to nursing an injury, too. For starters, if you have bad knees, it’s essential to make sure your bike is set up properly and your form is flawless. But it also may be smart to go the extra mile and modify an intense hill-climb by staying in the saddle instead of pushing heavy resistance in a standing position or by dialing down your resistance a bit. Discussing this with your instructor ahead of time can help you know what’s coming during the class and how you can adjust the moves to suit your needs.

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