Indoor cycling classes have exploded in popularity, with dozens of different boutique studios and gyms offering their own variations. But as popular as cycling has become, people may not know the best way to optimize their form and get the most out of their classes. Although it may seem as simple as riding a bike, there is a right and wrong way to ride — and if done wrong, it could lead to pain or injury.
"Form is key for an effective workout and to protect your body from injury," Flywheel instructor and ACE-certified personal trainer Emily Fayette told POPSUGAR. "I encourage riders to put their mind to the muscles that are working. Many times we forget to engage our core, which could lead to overworking our lower back, which will hold us back from our best effort throughout the ride."
For your upper body, Emily says to keep your head up, shoulders relaxed, and spine straight, with a slight bend in your elbows, and to have your elbows in line with your wrists. You should also have a light grip on the handlebars.
For your lower body, your feet should be parallel to the ground. When you're cycling, you should focus on your upstroke, meaning pulling your knees up and pushing your heels down. "This will allow you to use your hamstrings and your glutes more," she said. If your bike is set up correctly, the majority of your bodyweight should be over the pedal stroke.
She also reiterated the importance of engaging your core. Think: your belly button being pulled into your spine. When you are riding in third position, or out of the saddle with your hands on the ends of the handlebars, your hips should be over the saddle.
If you are new to indoor cycling or just want a refresher, be sure to ask your instructor to go over bike form before class, and pay attention during the ride for cues on how your hands, arms, and feet should be. When you're all set with a proper form, you will maximize your calorie burn and get the most out of those 45 minutes.