Indoor cycling is one of the most popular workouts of the moment. The low-impact, high-intensity exercise lends itself to an accessible yet transformative sweat sesh. Classes book up within seconds once the schedule is posted, studios are packed, and it seems like the stationary bikes at the gym are always taken.
But are you getting the most out of your class? Are you seeing results? If not, it's probably because you're making a few classic mistakes that could be sabotaging your workout — mistakes that even experts make. Avery Johnson, trainer at Wheel House SF and certified Spin instructor, told us the top four things that ruin a workout and noted that they're (unfortunately) extremely common. We want you to have the best workout possible — so let's start with these basics!
1. You're Not Turning Up the Resistance
What's the number-one mistake this instructor always sees? "Not turning up your resistance!" she said. "This is the biggest possible mistake you can make. Way too many people leave their resistance too low in an attempt to sprint faster, or even while they're out of the saddle."
This is detrimental in so many ways. "Not only does this mean you are not actually getting a workout or challenging yourself, but it can be dangerous! I've had clients (my boyfriend included) come unclipped and fall off of their bikes by spinning too fast on low resistance. You can also hurt your knees and hips by doing this." Want to get a better workout? You've got to challenge yourself a little bit — turn up that wheel!
2. You're Not Watching Your Form
Riders not prioritising their form is another insanely common mistake Avery sees frequently. "Shoulders should be relaxed, hands light, core tight, and back long," she said. This includes when you speed up! "Don't ever sacrifice form to keep up with the beat or movements in rhythm-based cycling classes." If you focus on correct form, you'll activate all the right muscle groups, burn more calories, prevent injury, and be able to keep cycling and working out for a long time. Don't sideline yourself by making this rookie mistake.
3. You're Not Setting Up Your Bike Correctly
Another way to ensure you're using all the right muscles and working your body properly: make sure you have the right customised settings for your body and build. "Proper bike setup is crucial and often overlooked," she said. "Do not be shy about having the instructor walk you through setup." This includes coming early to ask an instructor to analyse your form (see point 2) and make adjustments for you. "Many studios also have room captains and staff specifically there to help you set up properly."
And while it might seem trivial at first, the tiniest tweak can make a huge difference — or a really painful one. "You can cause your body serious injury and pain — not to mention sacrifice a good workout — all because your bike setup is even a few inches off.
4. You Have a Bad Attitude
"Have a friendly attitude," Avery said. "Sometimes studios and classes appear cultish or uninviting — be the friendly face in the room! Smile at your co-riders. Give a sweaty high five. Stop looking around the room and judging other riders and most importantly, stop judging yourself!" When you're focusing on unimportant things — like how fast someone else is riding, or who's not on the rhythm, or how you're not exactly on the beat — you're not focusing on your workout. And that's the important part!
"The hardest part is showing up. Who cares how 'good' you are or how 'good' you look doing it. Sweat! Focus on how you feel," she said. In terms of etiquette beyond attitude, Avery said "Also, don't wear heavy perfume or scent to class, and don't talk while in class. That is distracting. Chat after!" Put all of your energy and attention onto giving this workout your best, and you'll see better results.