The Purpose Behind Different Indoor Cycling Moves

Here are the benefits you'll get from climbs, jumps, and other techniques.

Have you ever wondered what you get besides variety from doing different moves in an indoor cycling class? Sure, alternating hill climbs with jumps, sprints, and the like adds spice to your cycling workouts but there’s also a functional aspect to the different moves. Basically, each one offers particular fitness-related benefits so when you put them all together you end up with a challenging, comprehensive workout that makes you stronger for riding indoors and out.

Here’s a look at what you can get out of six different moves:

Climbs: Whether you do them seated or standing, pushing the pedals against challenging resistance builds muscle strength and definition in your legs, especially your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Standing climbs, which are a more advanced move than seated ones, also help you increase your power output and challenge your core strength and stability—and they can help protect your bone mass.

Flat roads: Riding along a seated flat road is a great way to build endurance and refine your pedal strokes. (Because it can get monotonous when done for long stretches, it helps to vary your pace or resistance slightly.) When you’re riding on a standing flat, by contrast, you’ll also have the chance to develop greater balance and coordination, as well as stability in your upper body, as your body moves slightly from side to side with each pedal stroke.

Jumps: A drill that’s used to help riders develop smooth transitions between the seated and standing positions, jumps cultivate muscle strength and coordination. They’re also a great way to boost your heart rate. The key to making jumps effective is to maintain correct form—keeping your body weight over the pedals as you move smoothly between seated and standing positions.

When jumps are performed on a hill, you’ll shift between hand position 2 while seated and hand position 3 while standing; besides increasing your heart rate, jumps on a hill build muscle strength, power, coordination, and control.

Sprints: These involve a high-intensity effort—an explosion of speed and power and a rapid increase in cadence—that elicits a substantial increase in heart rate. Sprints also build muscle endurance, and they engage all the major leg muscles (quads, hamstrings, calves) as well as the glutes and hip flexors and the muscles in your core, which provide stability. It’s very difficult to sustain a true sprint for more than 30 seconds, which should be followed by a period of recovery.

Running with resistance: This move is like a combination of riding a standing flat and a standing climb. When running up a hill, you’ll have moderate resistance on the bike, your weight will stay centered over the pedals, and you’ll be in a standing position with your hands in position 2 or the curve of the handlebars.

Because it’s a high-intensity move—your pace should be between 60 and 80 RPMs—it develops cardiovascular endurance and muscle endurance.

Sprints on a hill: These can be done in a seated or standing position but the resistance needs to be heavy either way. As with regular sprints, you’ll push your pace as fast as you can for 15 to 30 seconds, followed by a recovery period. Sprints on a hill lead to big spikes in heart rate and they help you improve your acceleration skills as well as your speed and stamina. To help you rev up your pace and power, you may want to alter your breathing rhythm, focusing on exhaling forcefully.

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