Don't Get Injured! Read These Top 6 Cycling Mistakes
We asked JoyRide instructors what they thought were the biggest mistakes riders make in Cycle classes – and how to solve them and avoid injuries. Read these top six indoor cycling mistakes and learn how to avoid them!
1. Improper Bike Setup
“Even if you have been indoor cycling for years, it's always good to rethink your bike setup. The longer you ride, the stronger you get and because of this, you may need to adjust your bike.” – Alison Vitolo
When setting up your bike at JoyRide, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your seat height, seat position and handlebar position all contribute to an effective ride. When sitting in the saddle, your knee should be slightly bent. Your handlebars should complement this height and help you maintain good posture. While arms are resting on the handlebars, keep a slight bend in your elbows. Before class, ask your instructor or a front desk staff to assist you in customizing your bike perfectly for your height and your ride.
Watch this video here on handlebar height.
2. No Core Engagement
“A common mistake is when riders don’t engage their core, especially when back in third position. It's all in the core, glutes and hamstrings. Not the hips!” – Jaime Falco
So what does “engage your core” mean? First, keep your spine lengthened and shoulders down. Pedal equally with your right and left feet (without favoring one over the other), while keeping your hips back in the saddle. Draw your abdominals in and up and lengthen your spine to establish stability, ensuring a safe workout.
Engaging a stable core while riding has many benefits including: stabilizing the torso, supporting the back/ spine, allowing the spine to remain neutral while the body is in motion, enabling the arms and legs to work more efficiently, reducing chance of injury to the back, hips, and knees and working your abs!
3. Lack of Resistance
“Some riders tend to not use enough resistance which will make them unstable and out of control in and out of saddle. This in turn will cause bad form by making them lean forward and lean on handlebars when your weight should be shifted back over pedals and over saddle.” – Dina Fay
Resistance is your training partner, not your adversary! Remember the mantra: “Resistance equals control and control gives you POWER!” Adding resistance helps you develop endurance, creates a greater challenge with added speed, and ensures you are working to your greatest potential. Exerting more effort against resistance is a guaranteed way to get stronger and burn more calories.
Need more of a challenge? Test out your endurance by climbing to new heights and improving your athleticism with resistance as your tool during our new Resistance Rides. There are no sprints or flat roads: just pure power from 6.5-10 resistance.
4. Poor Posture
“When fatigue sets in, the body naturally compensates by recruiting other muscle groups to help out. Dropping weight over the handlebars rather than over the pedals is an easy way to make the ride “easier” but riders pay a price in terms of poor form, risking injury, and missing all the benefits they came to JoyRide for! Furthermore, collapsing over the handlebars, seated or out of the saddle, compromises both posture and the ability to breathe most effectively by keeping the chest constructed versus opened. It is better to take a break and create good habits and proper form on the bike than struggle to keep up and risk injury through improper form.” – Rhodie Lorenz
Your spine should be neutral and lengthened, not rounded or flexed, which ensures proper posture and weight distribution. A neutral spine also opens your chest to help you breathe. Good posture will protect your body from injury by not adding strain on your joints -- and help your muscles function with optimum efficiency. So roll those shoulders down, keep your back long and strong, lift your chest, and grip lightly on those handlebars!
5. Forgetting to Breathe
“Breathing. Sounds so simple, right? When the mind is focused, it sometimes forgets that the body needs oxygen. If a rider is focused on the choreography or music count during a ride s/he may not be maximizing her oxygen intake and unconsciously be holding her breathe to focus. During periods of anaerobic exertion, riders should be able to lengthen the breath and send oxygen to the hard working muscles.” – Rhodie Lorenz
The key to breath-control is learning to lower your breath rates during high levels of physical exertion by lengthening your exhalation. Your exhalation should be two to three times longer than your inhalation. This breathing technique takes practice, particularly with an increased heart rate, but it is essential to achieving peak athletic performance.
6. Don’t skip the stretch!
“Always stretch. It's probably the most important part of our class. Without elongating those muscles after a calorie-torching class, you are asking for trouble.” - Alison Vitolo
At the end of every JoyRide, we stretch our hamstrings, quads, abductors, glutes and piriformis muscle. We also do spine extension stretches to counteract the rounded posture that can happen during class. Never skimp! And if you feel particularly tight, stretch more outside the studio and at home.
Bottom line: If you’re not sure if you have proper form, ask your instructor or front desk staff!