Indoor Cycling Benefits and Common Pitfalls

Perhaps you are curious about the hype that revolves around the world of indoor cycling. This fitness experience offers more than just energetic music, inspiring instructors, and a cult-like following. Let us help break down what makes this type of training so unique.

Young women cycling at gym

The Benefits of Indoor Cycling

Cycle classes, also known as Spin classes*, offer many benefits that provide more than just a slimmer physique. Indoor cycling classes offer health and mental benefits, as well. Below is a selection of benefits that might surprise you from this type of training.

*Important Information

Spin®, Spinner®, Spinning®, Spin Fitness® are trademarks of Mad Dogg Athletics. When referring to Spin Bikes or Spin Classes, we mean the official Spinner Bikes/ Classes of Mad Dogg Athletics.

All Fitness Levels Welcome

You do not need to be an elite athlete to participate in indoor cycling. Riders of all fitness levels are welcome. All you need is a little determination and a willingness to try something new. As a certified Spinning Instructor, I always encourage students to try at least three classes before deciding whether to continue with this class type. Generally, after three rides, they have fallen in love with the workout and attend regularly.

Every Ride is Different

You might find yourself climbing a massive hill or sprinting to the finish line during a ride. The ability for the training stimulus to frequently change within this workout keeps your ride not only challenging but fun. The training stimulus refers to the stress that is applied to the body. In indoor cycling, riders can easily adjust resistance and cadence (also known as pedal speed) throughout the workout to increase or decrease the workload. Therefore, no two workouts are ever the same. As a rider continues to improve, their overall fitness level does as well. 

Reduces Stress

Meditation and Yoga are not the only workouts around that can reduce stress. A cycle class decreases the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol while increasing endorphins such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that are considered mood elevators.

Torches Calories

This great workout torches between 400-600 calories in only sixty minutes. Of course, calorie expenditures depend on factors such as the intensity of the workout, age, and weight. This intense workout scorches calories without the extreme wear and tear on your joints associated with high-impact exercises.

Easy on Joints

If you find that your knees ache after a run, spinning is a viable alternative. Since spinning is a low impact exercise, it allows for less impact on joints. With any low-impact exercise, it is essential to understand that you will need to increase your resistance and cadence to increase the intensity.

Strengthens Your Lower Body

One of the most critical factors of an indoor cycling workout is the amount of resistance or workload you apply to your bike. You can easily adjust your training from a flat road to an intense hill with a simple turn of the resistance knob. Resistance, along with proper riding form, allows for better activation of the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. Indoor cycling helps to build your lower body powerhouse one rotation at a time.

A common mistake that I find with new riders taking my class is the fear of adding the appropriate amount of resistance. Resistance in class not only helps to build lean muscles, but it also protects knee joints and can help support your body out of the saddle, allowing better riding form.

Increases Aerobic Capacity and Heart Health

Cycling is beneficial to the entire body as it improves aerobic capacity and heart health. According to a 2019 study, when participants engaged in 2-3 workouts per week, their aerobic capacity increased between 8-10.5% of their VO2 Max. In the same study, participants decreased their LDL and blood pressure while raising HDL. When combining indoor cycling with a healthy diet, health improvements were seen as early as three months and increased at a higher rate after six months. 

Your Ride, Your Way

Whether you are the type of person that loves to be part of a packed class or prefers to work out alone, many different opportunities are available. Most fitness facilities and cycling studios offer a plethora of ride selections. Rides are categorized by the type of terrain you will experience during class, the class format, or even the kind of music you will encounter during the ride. Technology and availability have also made the riding experience available in the comfort of your own home. A wide selection of indoor cycling bikes are available for purchase at varying price points. You can rock your ride on your own or follow a class virtually.

Part of a Team

There is also something about a dimly lit room, great music, and a group of people that want you to succeed. Indoor cycling communities foster enthusiasm. Everyone from classmates to the instructor encourages you to reach new levels within your workout through positivity and support. Finding the right environment helps drive consistency and success. 

indoor bike woman

Overcoming Common Indoor Cycling Pitfalls

Just as in any new program, at times, there is potential for apprehension. Below we address a few common indoor cycling pitfalls and how to navigate through them quickly.

Equipment and Availability

One issue you might encounter is having access to the equipment. Unfortunately, this is not an activity that can be done anywhere but does require a bike of some sort. There are many affordable in-home options available if you are looking to own an indoor cycling bike. 

Suppose the thought of dropping a considerable amount of money on an indoor cycling bike doesn’t appeal to you, and you already own a road bike. In that case, bike trainers are available for purchase starting as low as $50 and are compatible with road bikes.

If you are not interested in owning a piece of equipment, you can find many cycling classes at fitness facilities and specialty cycling studios. There is a price for participating in this type of workout, but the benefits vastly outrank the cost.

Saddle Soreness

A little saddle soreness when first starting is typical, but severe saddle soreness can make it where you never want to ride again. I almost never returned after my first class due to my saddle soreness associated with an improper bike set-up. Having the appropriate bike-set-up and riding form significantly decreases the amount of saddle soreness you will experience during and post-ride. If you are riding in a fitness facility, it is essential to ask the instructor to help set-up your bike before the beginning of class, as this will make your workout more enjoyable.

If you find that you are still a little tender after a few rides with the proper form and set-up, you might want to consider another solution. Cycling shorts or bibs provide a padded chamois that decreases the discomfort of the bike seat. If you are not interested in riding in padded gear, a padded gel seat is another option. They can easily slip over the bike seat and provide another level of comfort. They are available for less than twenty dollars, making them a very affordable option. 

Bottomline

indoor cycle woman

Indoor cycling is a challenging yet rewarding fitness activity. It naturally progresses as the rider’s fitness level increases, allowing the training to remain inspiring and enjoyable. If you are considering trying a class, there is no time like the present, and we look forward to hearing about your experience. 


Sources:
Chavarrias, Carlos-Vivas, Collado-Mateo, & Pérez-Gómez. (2019, August 1). Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling: A Systematic Review. Retrieved June 1, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722762/

Katie Pierson

Katie is the creator of MT Girl Fitness and has been a certified fitness professional for almost twenty years. She currently holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training. Fitness is her passion, and she loves seeing her clients reach goals they never imagined.