Indoor Cycling Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making

5 Slips You Don't Realize You're Making in Indoor Cycling

indoor cycling class
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From the moment you climb on to the bike and the pulse-pounding music gets to you, it’s easy to let the details slip in indoor cycling. However, if you lose your proper form and don’t use the right techniques, you could end up compromising the effectiveness of your workout, and even increase your risk of injury.

By now, you’re probably well aware of some of the more egregious mistakes (like not having your bike set up properly, offloading your weight onto the handlebars, or putting too little or too much resistance on the bike), but even smaller missteps can prevent you from getting the most out of your session. What follows are five subtle slips you may be making in indoor cycling and advice on how to correct them.

You're Dancing on the Bike

It’s one thing to let yourself be moved and inspired by the music (that’s a good thing!), but you shouldn’t be rocking out to the point where you’re swaying excessively from side to side or jamming up and down on the pedals. Besides throwing your body off balance, these moves can tweak your neck and spine, lead to premature fatigue, and force you to hold the handlebars too tightly. It’s true that competitive bikers often sway, but that’s in order to minimize the impact of the wind, air, and ground friction on their bikes and bodies. With indoor cycling, you don’t have to deal with such environmental factors.

If you really want to get in the groove, focus on making your cadence (pace) match the beat of the music.

You're Only Pushing on the Pedals

To keep your pedal strokes smooth and efficient, you want to push and pull on the pedals. If you’re just pushing down, you’re making your quads do all the work. What you should do is focus on lifting the opposite foot as the pedal goes around so that you’re engaging your hamstrings and glutes, too. Balancing the workload between pushing and pulling, which is what a proper pedal stroke should entail, will help you avoid overtaxing a particular muscle group, and it will help you generate more power.

You're Holding Your Breath on Heavy Climbs

If you’re barely breathing while you push a lot of resistance, you end up depriving your muscles of the steady flow of oxygen they need and you increase your risk of getting dizzy. Plus, breathing improperly or inefficiently can lead to general fatigue and an overall impaired performance. When you’re climbing, try taking big, deep inhalations that you can feel in the back of your rib cage then exhale fully. You can adjust your breathing patterns to help you conquer a variety of indoor cycling challenges.

You're Scrunching Your Shoulders

When you tense up your shoulders or they start visiting your ears, make a conscious effort to relax them. Otherwise, you could throw your posture out of its proper alignment or end up with unnecessary strain (and pain) in your neck and back. Sit up tall in the saddle with your back straight and your neck in line with your spine, and pull your shoulders down and back, as if you were going to tuck your shoulder blades in your (imaginary) rear pockets. Keep them in this position throughout the workout. 

You Look Like Gumby While Riding Standing

If your body resembles that hyper-flexible, bendable green humanoid character when you’re riding in a standing position, it means you’re not engaging your core muscles the way you should be. Worse, letting your body sway forward and back while you’re pedaling could lead to back injury.

The keys to riding right in a standing position are to hinge forward slightly from the hips, keep your back flat and your body weight centered over the pedals, and pedal steadily. With proper form, the muscles in your core will support you naturally and you’ll ride more comfortably.

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