Indoor cycling has become a staple in gyms everywhere, and for good reason. If you haven't experienced the heart-pounding, music-blasting, instructor-yelling workout that is indoor cycling, you're missing out. Indoor cycling provides an exciting cardiovascular workout in a class environment. This creates a fantastic sense of camaraderie and motivates you to get your butt in gear. Your body will thank you for the many advantages afforded by the different movements you'll use. If you're new to indoor cycling, you'll probably tone muscles you didn't even know you had.
Power and Strength from Climbs
Climbs, both in and out of the saddle, will challenge the muscular strength of your core and leg muscles. When you're seated, adding resistance and reducing cadence increases the amount of power your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves must produce. When you increase the resistance even more to stand, power output of your leg muscles is increased. Standing climbs will also test your core strength, which is required for balance. Your upper-body, including your shoulders, biceps and triceps, will help you push and pull the handlebars to perform the side-to-side action of heavy out-of-the-saddle climbs.
Endurance and Strength From Sprints
Sprints do not require the power that climbs do, but they will test the muscular endurance of your legs. The glutes and quads dominate the downstroke and the calf muscles assist in the back and upstroke -- especially if you're using shoes with clips. Hamstring muscles are engaged throughout the entire pedal stroke, so you may notice them fatiguing before your other muscles, but this will improve muscular endurance and stamina. You'll also use your abdominals and hip flexors, especially during the upstroke. When you're leaning forward, your shoulders and triceps help to hold your upper body over the handlebars. These elements combine to improve your total body strength.
Other Movement Benefits
All of the movements of an indoor cycling class come together to produce an incredible calorie burn. According to the website Spinning, the average participant burns 400 to 600 calories in a 40-minute class. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that a typical cycling class kept the heart rates of participants between 75 and 96 percent of their maximum throughout the duration, which is pretty incredible cardiovascular training. Another major benefit is the group environment, which makes classes far more fun and motivating than slumping over an elliptical machine any day!
Precautions and Tips
Consult your doctor before adding indoor cycling to your fitness routine. If you're new to it, ask the instructor to help you set up your bike and show you the core movements you'll need to know before class begins. Remember to customize each class to your needs and fitness level by increasing or reducing the bike's resistance level. Bring a workout towel and plenty of water with you, and wear comfortable, lightweight clothing. If you begin to feel dizzy or faint at any point during a class, back off immediately.
- Workouts in a Binder for Indoor Cycling; Dirk Friel and Wes Hobson
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.