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Indoor cycling has proven itself to be a staple fitness trend that’s set to stay. Chances are, you know someone who’s spin-obsessed...or maybe that person is you.
It comes as no surprise that people love spinning. Whether in a studio or at home, indoor cycling is an excellent low-impact, total-body workout that helps you keep in shape, increase your stamina, and even boost your mood...all while scorching calories in a fun way.
But to start spinning and get the most out of it, you need to make sure your bike setup and form are impeccable. Proper bike setup is a fine art and can make the difference between a highly effective workout and a less effective indoor cycling session—or worse, injury. We’ll also cover good spin bike form to maximize gains and calories burned.
In this article you’ll learn:
Proper spin bike setup
If you’re new to spinning, you probably have questions about how to set up your stationary bike. Even if you’ve been spinning for a while, it’s never a bad idea to assess your current setup and make improvements, especially if you’re new to actually owning a spin bike.
Proper setup is vital to prevent injury and get the most from your workout like improving cardiovascular fitness, building lean muscle, and releasing feel-good endorphins with each cycling session.
There are three parts of the stationary bike you should adjust before each cycling session:
The height of your saddle may be more important than you think. You're bound to feel uncomfortable without a seat height that works for you so be sure to adjust it before each workout.
If your bike is at the proper height, the seat should be at hip bone level when you’re standing next to it. When adjusting the seat, place your thumb at the top of your hip bone and make sure that your palm lies flat on top of the saddle. When seated in a neutral position with good form, you should be able to comfortably reach the pedals with your feet flat and without locking your knees. The bike seat should be about even with your handlebar height if it’s at the right height.
Seat distance to handlebar
You should be able to touch the handlebars with a slight bend in the elbow if your seat distance is the correct length from your handlebars. If you can’t, push the seat forward until it’s about a fore arm’s length from the handlebars.
The handlebars on your stationary bike will help you spin with proper form. Handlebars set at the wrong height or too close or far from your seat may lead to fatigue during your workout or a sore lower back afterward.
How high should the handlebars be on a spin bike?
Your handlebars should be low enough that your arms can relax without locking your elbows, but not so low that you’re hunched over the bike. Adjust the handlebars so that you can sit upright with good posture and a slight bend forward to engage your core. This likely means that your handlebars will be even with or adjusted higher than your bike seat.
If you’re a smaller individual, consider moving the handlebars closer to the saddle so you aren’t struggling to reach them mid-workout.
Remember that these are general guidelines. Different individuals will have different needs, so you’ll likely need to try out a few setups before discovering what works well for you.
At Ascend, we know that quality equipment and effective workouts go hand-in-hand. Our Exercise Bikes are advanced enough for spin fanatics but are user-friendly enough for first-timers.
Looking to add a spinning regimen bike to your at-home routine? Compare our two stationary bike models to see which one is right for you.
Proper spin bike form
A proper stationary bike set-up sets the foundation for an effective workout. But without good form, you may be left feeling sore, discouraged, or even injured. If you’re hunched over your handlebars or are taking the tension straight to your shoulders, it’s time to correct your spinning posture.
How should you be positioned on a spin bike?
Flat feet working with equal force
Keep your hips square and your heels pressed down as your lower with each pedal. If the instructor tells you to ride to the beat of a song, ensure that you’re pressing equally into both feet throughout the class. Try alternating leading with your right and left foot between songs if helpful.
Knees above the ankles
Avoid pushing your knees forward over your toes to keep your knees safe. If you’ve adjusted your bike to the proper position, it should be easy to keep your knees in line with your ankles. When you push out of the saddle during your workout, your knees shouldn’t be in front of your feet.
Don’t use your arms to support your body as they aren’t meant to hold too much weight during a workout on your stationary bike. Your hands should remain light on the handlebars throughout your ride.
Your feet are pain-free
Spinning can put strain on your feet despite being a low-impact exercise. To avoid foot pain, prioritize proper bike setup and footwear. When cycling, your quads and glutes are charged by power transfer from the feet. Select supportive running or cycling shoes that you’re comfortable exercising in. Just be sure that your bike is compatible with SPD cleats or can be modified with clip-in pedals to accommodate them.
Ascend clip-in pedals are simple to install, compatible with SPD cycling cleats.
Position your feet so that the pedals lay underneath the balls of your feet. Starting your ride in a neutral standing position will ensure that you are comfortable at the beginning of your workout. Adjust your feet by sliding them slightly forwards or backward from the starting position in the toe cage during your spin class if needed.
If the resistance knob is turned too high during your spinning session, you may place unwanted pressure on the ball of your foot. Release resistance on your stationary bike to relieve foot pressure and any associated pain during each workout.
You feel comfortable and secure
It’s a great sign that your positioning is correct if you feel like you are in control with each pedal stroke during a ride. If you can comfortably make your way through a class with minimal joint and muscle pain (other than typical discomforts associated with high-intensity exercise), you’re likely spinning with proper form.
Tip: Before you spin, don’t forget to warm up by completing some dynamic stretches, and pedal with just enough resistance that you get the blood flowing.
What is the correct posture for spinning?
Proper posture and alignment improve spine health, keep your nerves and blood vessels healthy, and support your muscles. When spinning, proper posture is important to have an efficient workout, prevent injury, avoid back and neck pain.
Here are two tips for maintaining correct posture on a stationary bike:
Keep pelvis, shoulders, and spine in a neutral position
When you stand with good posture, you keep your head level, push your shoulders back, and activate your abdominals. On a stationary bike, you should imagine standing with your best posture from the waist up, then hinge forward at the hips with a neutral spine. Keep your knees slightly bent and chest lifted.
Pull hips back
Your core should be engaged with your back lengthened and straight throughout your cycling workout. Think about lining up your hips with the back of the seat whether you’re sitting down or standing.
How should my legs look on a spin bike?
When on a stationary bike, your legs should look like you’re in a squatting position and your lower body should be faced forward in alignment. Everything should be tight and engaged. Avoid bowing your knees inward or outward and keep a flat foot when pedaling.
Common spin mistakes
First-timers and experts alike make plenty of mistakes when spinning, and that’s okay. Here are a few blunders that you may make and how to avoid them during your first or hundredth ride:
Resistance is too low
When you ride with the resistance too low, you’ll have to pedal much faster, which could put your joints at risk. Riding with a good amount of resistance on your stationary bike is a surefire way to burn calories, up the challenge, and increase your workout output. That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for fast and slow spinning—you just need to find the right balance between speed, resistance, and challenge.
Pedaling too hard
We get it—spinning is fun. This doesn’t mean you should party so hard on the bike that you put yourself at risk for injuries. Avoid pedaling with so much force that you sway side to side or lose control of the speed of your feet during a spin session. Keep your body balanced and pace yourself, no matter how good the playlist is.
Skipping the stretch afterward
Stretching is one of the most important parts of any workout. Doing a variety of active and passive stretches following your cycling session will improve your mobility and flexibility, and reduce soreness so you’re ready to go for your next spin sesh.
Choose the right equipment for your indoor cycling sessions
There’s no doubt that spinning has increased in popularity over the last few years. If you tend to get bored riding a conventional bike or get frustrated with confusing cardio machines at the gym, spinning at home is an excellent way to spice up your workout regimen. The electrifying energy of a spin class at home will give you the runner’s high you’re looking for without the unpredictable weather or high impact on your joints.