Spin is such an incredible, exhilarating cardio workout, and in addition to being fun and accessible, it's a total calorie-torcher: you can burn up to 500 calories in one 45 minute session.
But as simple as spin may seem, there's plenty of room for error. We chatted with Equinox's Caroline Jordan after one of her cycling classes to talk about all the DON'Ts for when you're on the bike. Here's everything you need to avoid so you don't sabotage your workout!
- You're wearing the wrong clothes. Wear something moisture wicking, not cotton — if you do, you'll be sweaty and disgusting. We know from experience. These classes get hot, and Caroline says to expect to sweat A LOT. A longer pair of shorts or padded cycling shorts will also make your ride more comfortable.
- You're not hydrating enough. Keep a water bottle with you and fuel up on H2O for the entirety of your class — as well as before and after you spin!
- You're wearing the wrong shoes. While it's best to have cycling shoes, you CAN cycle with sneakers, but it's better to have thicker-soled shoes. "Thinner soles — like in Nike Frees — can be painful on your arches when the metal pedals are in the middle of your foot," said Caroline. "Cycling cleats provide much more power and muscle engagement in EVERY pedal stroke. She notes that one pair will last you several years.
You're not adjusting your bike. Are you showing up just barely in time for class, and riding the bike as is? You could be putting yourself at risk of injury, if you haven't injured yourself already. "With the proper bike setup, you can reap the full benefits of the cycling class and minimize the risk of injury." Show up a few minutes early — 15 if you're new — and adjust the bike properly. Here are Caroline's tips for a perfect bike setup:
- Adjust the seat height so that your knees are slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
- Adjust fore/aft seat position so that your arms are a comfortable distance from the handlebars and your elbows are slightly bent.
- If you're a beginner, start with the handlebars in a relatively high position. As your flexibility increases and you become more comfortable on the bike, you can begin to move the handlebars downward until they are approximately level with the saddle.
You're not focusing on form. Remember to ride at your own pace, and learn the seated movements before advancing to standing movements and jumps. "Always stay in control and focus on your form," says Caroline. Follow her tips ahead for the perfect spin class form.
- Riding posture: keep your shoulders down, core engaged, and maintain strong posture when you ride. If you're seated with the arms reaching FAR forward and the back rounded, you're in trouble. "This hyperflexed position may strain the back and cause discomfort."
- You're doing excessive movement. Caroline stresses the importance of form, and doing things like crunches, push-ups, and oblique crunches OFF the bike. She says that "this movement is not only inefficient, but it can throw off your balance and can also strain your back." Additionally, she recommends you dedicate time to these exercises in a separate strength-building session in the gym, when you're unclipped. "If you wouldn't do it on an actual bike, don't do it in class."
- You're not using resistance. Turn up the dial on your resistance! Otherwise, you're not actually getting a workout in. "There should always be some resistance on the bike"
- Your toes are pointed. In terms of your pedal stroke, work on dropping your heel while you cycle, "moving your foot as if you are scraping mud off your shoe."
- You've got crazy legs. Riding at high cadence without resistance is ineffective on a spin bike (and could cause serious butt soreness). Instead, ride at 110 RPM or less. If you begin to bounce in the saddle, increase the resistance. Pacing yourself will develop power, strength, and endurance.
- You bring your phone. While some studios have a no-phones-allowed policy, some cyclists tend to ignore this rule. Caroline urges you to keep phones outside of class so you can focus on your workout, and yourself!
- You're forgetting hygiene. Make sure your clothes are clean — even if they "smell fine" before class, if they're dirty, the heat and sweat can reactivate bacteria and BO. Make sure you're wearing deodorant, sanitizing your station, and being courteous and clean.