Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor cycling, otherwise known as spinning, has risen drastically in popularity. In 2020, many Americans could not meet their cardio fitness needs thanks to nationwide gym closings and the pandemic’s shelter-in-place orders. As a result, indoor cycling bike sales skyrocketed as Americans turned to cycling as a safe and fun cardio alternative.
As with learning any new skill, learning how to build a fitness routine with an unknown machine can feel overwhelming. Before developing a comprehensive at-home spinning routine, cyclists must first learn a variety of different metrics, positions, and spinning best practices. As one of the many individuals who picked up spinning during the pandemic, Denver, Colorado – native Gene Gross knows firsthand the extensive learning curve associated with the cardio exercise. To help the many Americans looking to start spinning in the new year, Gene Gross has compiled the following beginner’s guide to at-home spinning, which will cover various introductory topics.
Choosing the Right Indoor Cycling Bike
As the popularity of spinning has risen in the last few years, so has the number of spinning bikes on the market. Today, consumers can find spinning bikes in a number of styles and at various different price points. While each spinning bike will have its own unique pros and cons, Gene Gross of Denver, Colorado, stresses to readers that while researching potential spinning bikes, that they should keep in mind the following features:
- Workout Programs
Variety is key in any successful workout routine. When researching indoor cycling bikes, it is crucial that buyers consider what types of cycling workout programs will work for their and their unique fitness needs. Today, most indoor bikes on the market offer consumers a variety of programs with the purchase of their machine or for a monthly subscription fee. As buyers will likely have their spinning bike for at least 10-15 years, it is essential to find an indoor bike with extensive workout programs or a workout membership program with frequent updates.
- Resistance Levels
As with any workout routine, increasing weight or resistance is key in order to avoid plateauing or losing fitness gains. In order to receive a challenging workout every session, buyers should look for an indoor bike that offers at least 16 levels of resistance. However, those looking to improve their fitness and see even greater results should consider a bike with 32 levels of resistance, as these bikes can be used to improve over a significant amount of time without causing the rider to plateau.
- Heart Rate Sensors
Using a heart rate sensor throughout a workout routine will drastically improve a user’s fitness as they will be able to ensure that they are extending the correct amount of energy throughout their workout and hitting their target heart rate. A target heart rate is a zone at which a person’s cardiovascular exercise is optimal for fat-burning. Typically a person can calculate their target heart rate by knowing their max heart rate and multiplying it by .7. For example, if a person’s max heart rate is 180 BPM, their max heart rate would be approximately 125. Spinners can ensure they are hitting their target heart rate throughout their workout by electing to purchase an indoor bike with a built-in heart monitoring system. Additionally, individuals who are looking to have more flexibility and movement in their cycling workout can buy an indoor bike with a wireless heart rate receiver, so they will not be restrained by wiring.
How to Set the Proper Saddle Height
All too often, amateur indoor cyclists will purchase their first bike and use it for months without adjusting the seat to its proper height. This can lead to overextension during workouts and potentially cause injury. It is crucial that those who have just purchased a spinning bike set the seat to their own height to ensure they are riding comfortably and getting the most out of their workout.
There are a few methods riders can use to set their saddle to the ideal height, including:
Hip Bone: Some riders swear by the hip bone method, which is setting the saddle height to align with the hip bone when standing upright next to the bike. While this method may work for some individuals, Gene Gross encourages those who use the hip bone method also to check their saddle’s height with the heel to pedal method.
Heel to Pedal Method: Preferred by most spinners and cyclists, the heal to pedal method measures a cyclist’s leg against the seat’s height to help riders achieve the ideal long pedal motion. First, riders place their heel on the pedal while sitting fully in the saddle. Then, riders pedal one foot to the six o’clock position, or the point in which the pedal is closest to the ground. The rider’s leg should be straight with a slight bend in their knee at this position. Most riders agree that the ideal knee bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke should be between 134 to 145 degrees. If not, Gene Gross states that riders must adjust the saddle to meet this ideal position.
Spinning Resistance and Cadence
When it comes to spinning at home, it is crucial that spinners spend time researching their bike in order to ensure proper form and usage. One of the biggest hurdles beginner cyclists must get over is fully understanding resistance and cadence, or the speed at which a spinner pedals. Spinners are encouraged to always ride with some resistance, even if it is only to get comfortable sitting in the saddle.
The majority of spin bikes will allow owners to add or remove resistance by turning the center knob on their bike clockwise or counterclockwise; however, some bikes will allow riders to adjust the resistance through the bike’s center console. When spinning on a “flat road,” spinners should be able to feel some resistance from their bike while not overly fatiguing themselves. This means spinners should have a cadence between 80-100 and set their resistance to no higher than 35. However, if a cyclist is sprinting, Gene Gross encourages them to aim to meet a cadence of between 80-100 while at a resistance of roughly 50. When spinning up an “incline,” cadence is often set to between 60-80 with high resistance of 50.