How To Pedal Faster in Spin Class: 4 Proven Ways From An Instructor

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Screenshot 2022 05 17 at 3.12.25 PM
By Katie Pierson CPT

Certified Spinning® Instructor & CPT

Get ready to pick up the pace in your next class. Whether you want to improve your fitness level or just try to keep up in class, learn how to start pedaling faster.

Check out our video on how to pedal faster in your spin class!

4 Ways to Pedal Faster

Invest in Spin Shoes

Did you know that you can pedal faster and more efficiently by just picking the right shoes? Since cycling shoes attach directly to the pedals, it allows for greater contact with them and the ability to generate more power. In a recent study, cycling shoes have been proven to generate 10% more power while riding in the saddle. In addition, although a decent pair of cycling shoes can run over $100, they last for a long time since they only need to be replaced every 3,000-5,000 miles. Finally, ensure you select the right cleat that is compatible with the spin bikes at your studio. The vast majority of spin studios have SPD pedals, but it is always important to double-check. If not, you can always change them with ease.

Increase Your Fitness Level

Maintaining a higher pace for a longer time is demanding on the body. Therefore, for longer bouts of higher cadences, increasing your endurance level will help to aid in your success. 

How do I increase my spin endurance?

You will want to train in the aerobic zone to increase your spin endurance. This means your body will be breaking down glucose with the assistance of oxygen, allowing your exertion level to be maintained for longer. In contrast, training anaerobically, meaning the body is breaking down glucose without the help of oxygen, this type of training can only be done for very short periods.

pedal faster in spin class

Just like with any new training stimulus, it does take time for you to start building your endurance. If you are new to cycling, start riding a few times weekly for 20-30 minutes per session. Your goal is to keep the same resistance and pace throughout the workout without taking a break. If twenty minutes is too long in the beginning, start with whatever works for you and build from there. Ideally, the workouts should be at least thirty minutes. If you have a solid endurance base, try increasing your resistance or exertion level for 5-7 minutes before returning to a lower resistance without taking a break. 

Focus on Technique

Since your lower body creates one large kinetic chain, a great pedaling technique helps your body feel its best and perform.

What is the best pedaling technique?

When looking at your pedaling technique, you will want to imagine that your feet are on a clock. The most power is generated between hours 2-4. Your pedal stroke should feel fluid from the front to the back. At the top of the pedal stroke, focus on dropping your heel to have your pedal parallel by the time it hits three, or even a little lower than parallel, as it enables more hamstring activation, which helps to extend the hip. When you reach six on the clock, start lifting your heel to help activate the calves. Your heel should be lifted until you reach 12 o’clock. In order to get your body into the correct pedaling position, your riding form plays a big role in maximizing your power output. 

  • Foot Placement: On each stroke, you should push through the ball of your foot while keeping your foot flexed for most of the stroke. 
  • Knee Placement: Your knee should be located over the ball of your foot. If your knee is tracking over or in line with your toe while your pedals are parallel, it can cause knee pain. Changing your saddle placement can help you find the correct riding position. In addition, there should be a slight knee bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke. 
correct shoe foot position

Don’t Sacrifice Resistance for Speed

My students often ask me if they should focus on speed or resistance. My answer is always it is better to pedal harder with more resistance within the cadence range. For example, if I give my students the option to pick a cadence between 80-100, I will always have a select few that automatically ride at 100 with light resistance. Riding with more resistance between 80-90 will tax the body more than riding with light resistance at 100 RPMs. Your overall goal is to eventually be able to ride at a higher cadence WITH more resistance

correct ride position


Is it better to pedal faster or harder?

It is better to pedal with more resistance than to focus on speed alone. Pedaling harder at the beginning of the pedal stroke when there is higher resistance will allow for greater inertia. This allows for a better cardiovascular workout.

How do cyclists go so fast?

Cyclists can generate speed because the combination of higher resistance and pace allows for greater power. Pro cyclists travel at 20-30 miles per. Great form and technique allow cyclists to go so fast.

Bottom Line

The key to pedaling faster in class is continuing to improve your form, technique, and endurance. 

Katie Pierson CPT

Katie has been a certified fitness professional for twenty years and holds ten fitness certifications, including Spinning Elite and Personal Training. She has shared her expert knowledge in many fitness outlets like Bicycling & Verywellfit.

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