3 Reasons It’s a Mistake to Multitask on the Bike

Trying to do too much on the bike can backfire. Here's why . . .

We live in a multitasking culture where it’s easy to feel like a slacker if you do only one thing at a time. So people often divide their attention by tackling multiple work projects simultaneously or juggling phone calls while typing on the computer. But it’s a mistake to try to multitask with certain activities (like driving!)—and indoor cycling is one of them. And yet it’s fairly common to see people texting or doing push-ups on the bike in many indoor cycling classes.

This is not the place for multitasking for three primary reasons that have to do with safety, manners, and performance. Here’s a closer look at the details:

Why You Shouldn’t Do Upper Body Exercises on the Bike: These days, some indoor cycling studios or classes claim to offer full body workouts because they include upper body exercises in their rides. Whether these come in the form of having riders do push-ups on the bike or use resistance bands, handheld weights or a weighted bar while pushing the pedals, these gimmicks add little, if any, value. For one thing, you’re working with gravity, not against it, when you're doing push-ups on the bike. For another, lifting light weights (often on the order of 1 to 3-pounds) for countless repetitions won’t build muscle mass or strength; heavier weights with fewer reps are needed for that. By trying to strengthen your arms or core while cycling, you’re working at cross-purposes with your intentions for both activities, sabotaging your ability to reap maximum benefits from either one.

A bigger concern: Safety, since it’s difficult for indoor cyclists to maintain proper posture while doing push-ups or bicep curls or overhead presses with weights while pedaling. With these moves, it’s easy to throw your neck and back or your knees and hips out of their correct alignment, setting you up for possible injury.

If you want to do an upper-body workout, save it for after class and head to the weight area of the gym where you can perform the exercises properly.

Why You Shouldn’t Text or Read the Newspaper During a Class: Inevitably, there’s someone who can’t part with his or her phone during an indoor cycling class. It’s fine to keep it handy if you’re expecting an important call about work or a family issue, in which case you should leave class to take the call. But it’s not okay to text during a class, and yet people do it, despite this being poor etiquette. Texting during a class is distracting and annoying to your fellow riders and it’s rude to the instructor who invested time and effort into designing the workout you’re supposed to be doing.

Let’s face it: If you’re texting or reading the newspaper (or anything else) during an indoor cycling class, you can’t possibly give the workout your full attention or your best effort. Which means: You’re shortchanging yourself, too, because you’ll be compromising your own performance on the bike and preventing yourself from reaping optimal results from the ride.

So save the reading and texting for after class when you can give those activities the proper attention, too. Or, if you want a leisurely workout, take your phone or reading material to the gym floor and ride a stationary bicycle on your own. That way, someone who really wants to do the full workout can have that coveted bike in the indoor cycling studio, and you can cycle the way you want to, with a gentle solo ride, without offending anyone.

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