Without a doubt, donning your SoulCycle workout clothes and spending 45 minutes on a bike jamming out to Beyoncé is one of the best and most fun ways to melt away all the drama from the day. But turns out, whether you’re a regular at SoulCycle, you have a home cycling setup or you’re just starting off on the bike, chances are you’re probably making at least one mistake during spin class. That’s why we’ve called in the professionals to help make sure you’re getting the most out of your sweat session. We caught up with Katie Duffy, lead spin instructor at Harness Cycle, a boutique spin studio in Cleveland, to give us fixes to the most common problems on the bike.
1. You’re supporting your bodyweight on the handlebars. We get it: Sometimes you need a breather on the bike, but relying on the handlebars takes the weight off your legs and your core and puts it on your arms, but not in a “burn more calories and work your way to bigger biceps” way.
How to fix it: Katie says, “Shift your weight back so your center of gravity is over the pedals. Hips should align with the back of your saddle, knees over ankles and grip softened on the handle bars. Still feel like you need a death grip? Give yourself extra support by bracing your core and flattening your back. Can’t keep up with the pace? Take the saddle, breathe, reset and get back to it.”
2. You’re stomping up hill or only pushing down on a seated climb. Just because the hills in spin class might be the devil in a Rihanna song, that doesn’t give you an excuse to practice bad form. Plus, fixing this habit now will have your knees thanking you later.
How to fix it: “Think more about muscle than pure motion here. Start to feel the push-pull of your seated climb in your obliques and move down through the hips and legs,” says Katie. “If you’re wearing cycling shoes, focus on pulling the pedals up and slightly in to engage your hamstrings. Let your hips soften and alternate full circles, side for side. The more muscles you engage, the bigger hill you can cycle.”
3. You don’t have any resistance during a sprint. Moving your legs out of control at full tilt isn’t a workout. It’s dangerous. Most commercial indoor bikes have 50-pound flywheels. If you strip resistance from the flywheel, the bike is burning calories, not you. Uncool.
How to fix it: “Easy: Turn the resistance dial! Don’t be afraid to add some road underneath your feet, even when you’re sprinting. You can always take it off. More resistance will give you better control over the flywheel and a more stable base to help you keep good riding form. Believe in your legs — they’re much stronger than you give them credit for.”
4. You’re using your upper body to build momentum. This mistake is made most often in active recovery, when you’re shifting your weight from side to side, or by outdoor cyclists who are used to more range of motion on the road.
How to fix it: “To see and feel results fast, engage your core to keep your upper body as stable as possible. Keep your body within the frame of the bike with your shoulders squared to the handlebars and elbows slightly tucked. Another tip: Soften your grip, roll your thumbs to the top of the handle bars and watch your elbows magically draw themselves in.”
5. Your head and chin are tucked in while you ride: We all love to get lost in some T-Swift and embrace the darkness for a moment during our day. When else do you really get an hour to yourself? But you don’t have to drop your head to get it.
How to fix it: “Take your gaze in front of your bike at least six feet. Dropping your chin adds unwanted pressure on your spine. Keep the crown of your head proud, tailbone back and spine stretched long — just how it likes to be.”
6. Sweat is slowing you down. Give your workout your all and you’ll sweat… a lot. Like, an amount that will make the average person think you’ve just walked out of a volcano. But it shouldn’t mess with your workout.
How to fix it: “Drink water. Lots of water. If you need more than one bottle, most bikes are equipped with dual holders. Need more mid-class? Don’t be afraid to discreetly run out between songs to refill. Better to refill and rehydrate than go dry. Water keeps muscles, organs and blood happy. Use a towel to keep your handlebars dry, a headband if you’re getting sweat in the eyes and moisture-wicking clothes to keep yourself cool.”
Headed to spin class? Tweet us what tips you put into action at @BritandCo!
(Images via Harness Cycle)