Don’t let silly mistakes make your indoor cycling sessions less effective. The next time you park your butt on a bike, right these wrongs, demonstrated by Bree Branker, an indoor cycling instructor at Flywheel in New York City, to reduce your risk of injury and get a disgustingly sweaty but utterly amazing workout.
1. You arrive for class right on time. The problem: This leaves you approximately zero time to set up your bike and test out the settings before class begins. Arrive at least five minutes early to settled. That way, you’ll have time to flag down an instructor to help with any extra-tight knobs and give your setup a once-over if you’re unsure about it. And even if you’re a pro, you won’t have to spend the first song awkwardly readjusting.
2. You death-grip the handlebars.
The handlebars are only there to help you balance — not to bear the weight of your entire upper body. When you grip the handlebars too tight, you end up with unnecessary tension in your shoulders and back. So shift your weight into your lower body by bringing your hips back and release your fists to reduce tension.
3. Your seat is too high or too low. Too low, and you won’t be able to fully extend your legs, which detracts from the power of each pedal stroke. Too high, and your hips will rock back and forth to reach the bottom of each pedal stroke, which slows you down and can end up bruising your groin. To get the perfect seat height, stand next to the bike, hold your palm parallel to the ground, and place it at the top of your hipbone. The seat is the right height when your hand is in line with the seat (below) and you can pedal comfortably.
4. Your handlebars are higher than the seat. When you set your bike up like you’re about to take a joyride around the neighborhood, you miss out on the benefits of low handlebars, which force you to activate your core to stabilize the upper body. That said, lower handlebars aren’t always better. When the handlebars get way lower than the seat, you’ll have to hinge forward to reach them, which can put uncomfortable pressure on your groin, aggravate back pain, and prevent you from performing at your peak. Ideally, the handlebars and seat should be even with one another: