Whether you're indoor cycling curious or been on a bike for a while, there's a lot to know before getting started or even reaching that next level. Resistance, form, tempo, what to wear? Before I joined Brit + Co, I was a certified indoor cycling instructor in NYC and San Francisco. I loved it because it’s an exhilarating workout that's also low-impact, so it doesn’t put a ton of stress on my body (having suffered a back injury when I was 16).
So I was excited to learn about our partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and their newest health and wellness challenge: LLS’s Bike For Breakthroughs event, a fundraising event to help raise funds for life-saving blood cancer research, advocacy, and patient support.
If you're looking for a 2022 fitness challenge, this is a feel-good cause for people who love to ride. On March 5, the LLS will host a one-hour virtual ride to raise funds to support their vision of a future without blood cancers. The event is hosted by Grammy- and Tony-nominated actress and leukemia survivor Ashley Park.
It’s free to sign up (tell your friends!) and you can join from any bike, anywhere. Cyclists are encouraged to set a fundraising goal (though it's not required). And if you do you'll get to unlock swag and VIP experiences! The high-energy ride will test your limits while making a meaningful difference in a fun group setting. Win-win-win!
But first, here are some of my tips for getting a better workout on a stationary bike.
What You Need
Depending on what kind of stationary bike you have, you’ll need lightweight cross-trainers or spin shoes. Wear any comfortable but tight-fitting leggings (avoid shorts to keep your leg from hitting the bike), a moisture-wicking top (you *will* sweat!), a hand towel for the same reason, a water bottle and earbuds to tune into your favorite workout music. Here’s my favorite playlist for a beginner cycling workout.
Prep Your Bike
The first thing you want to do is make sure your seat is in the right position: If you stand beside your bike, make sure the top of the seat is at your hip bone. Now take a seat.
If you need to clip in your shoes, slide your foot in like you’re putting on skis, press the ball of your foot down and click in. (To unclip, press your heel down and out to the side like you’re squashing a bug).
Keep your hips back over the pedals and loosely grip the handlebars. You want to avoid putting unnecessary weight on your wrists and shoulders, which can lead to injury. Instead, shift the weight back into your legs. Keep your back straight, not curved like a cat. Your legs should slightly bend at the knee (about a 30 degree angle); if your leg is straight and locked, your seat is too high. If it’s bent at a 90-degree angle, your seat needs to be lowered. Avoid pointing your toes as you pedal; and instead, press through with a neutral foot to reduce the pressure on your quads and knee joints.
Use your hand towel to lock in your bike's knobs for safety.
LLS’s Bike For Breakthroughs event on March 5 is for all skill levels. Everyone’s welcome! And don’t be intimidated if you’re new to indoor cycling. It’s totally meant to be fun for a worthy cause. Just remember to listen to your body as you go. You want it to be challenging but if it’s painful or super uncomfortable slow it down.
You never want to ride at zero resistance, which is hard on your joints, knees, and ankles. Start with two full turns as a base and then increase from there. Take quarter turns of resistance as you build up endurance.
Now there are two ways to ride: sitting in the saddle (your seat) or standing. When sitting in the saddle, you want your hands to be closest to you on the center bar. For both positions, make sure your elbows have a slight bend and aren't locked.
While you're standing, really focus on your form to avoid injury. Make sure your hips are back above the saddle, hovering over the seat. Keep knees from moving in front of the resistance knob too.
Now ride to the beat of the music! Ease in with a slower tempo and more resistance and speed up with faster tempo, or pace, while reducing your resistance. Don’t forget to breathe! Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
The Final Stretch
If it’s your first time taking a spin class you may be sore the next day. Take time to stretch after class. On the bike, you can arch your back like a cat and then stretch down like you’re doing a push up.
It's not recommended to wear your spin shoes off the bike. Wear socks or street shoes to finish your stretching. You can try a hamstring stretch by lifting your leg on the bike and/or bending your knee over your opposite thigh and bending into a one-legged squat.
Back in the Saddle
Indoor cycling is a great low-impact workout and I hope you love it as much as I do. I'm looking forward to seeing you all on March 5 for Bike for Breakthroughs with the rest of the LLS community! Don't forget to share your progress on social #CancelBloodCancer. Happy riding!
Photography by: Michael Sullivan
Produced by: Theresa Gonzalez