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How to make the most of your spin class

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Maximise Your Spinning Workout and Boss the Exercise Bike

Indoor cycling is a great form of exercise but if you're making a few of these common spinning mistakes, you might not be making the most of your time on the bike.

For optimal performance you want to have the perfect exercise bike set up and know how to push-and-pull the pedals. Plus, there's a pre-workout snack that could enhance your exercise sesh.


You're not stretching pre-spin

'Peloton classes always have a warm up included in your ride but most spin studios only offer a cool down. It's important to activate the correct muscles and warm the body before an intense workout,' so Hainsby suggests to 'incorporate a series of dynamic stretches, such as hip rotations and leg swings to get that heart rate up slightly.'


Your snacks aren't carb heavy

Solid advice: Choose a snack that is rich in carbohydrates and moderate in protein before your next spin class. Carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores, which give you energy during a workout, especially for short and intense activities like spinning! Protein aids in recovery by rebuilding and repairing your muscles. It will also provide fuel in the form of amino acids. 'I’d usually have a larger meal 2 - 3 hours before working out,' says Hainsby. 'Most riders can snack up to an hour before. My go to snack that is super quick and easy is rice cakes with almond butter and sliced banana on top.' Top tip: Drink plenty of water before, during and after your ride! Invest in a reusable water bottle with a sports cap, take it with you everywhere you go and focus on keeping yourself hydrated.


You keep arriving in a rush

'Give yourself plenty of time to set up your bike properly, . She advises the height of the seat should be aligned with your hip bone. To determine seat depth, place your elbow at the nose of the saddle and adjust the depth accordingly so that your fingertips touch the handlebars. When you get on the bike, start peddling to check your seat adjustments. Make sure that when one foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke and there’s a slight bend in the knee.


Your saddle is too high

Saddle height should be set up initially just below hip bone height, then hop onto the bike and check the following...With your foot flat on the pedal, adjust the seat so there is a slight bend in your leg, note your buttocks should not rock from side to side as you peddle. This means your seat is too high.


You need help with your posture

When spinning don't just concentrate on speed, how you pedal is important too. 'Ensure your bum is on the widest part of the saddle and hinge at your hips as you reach for the handlebars with a slight bend at the elbows, keeping your spine elongated and space between your hips and rib cage. You should also keep an openness across your chest and shoulders relaxed. Then, when alternating between seated and standing cycling always think about keeping your the back and in line with each other. If seated, you want to have a slight bend at the knee.


You're not squeezing your bum and tum

Many riders spend a large part of a spinning class concentrating on their feet, however, this could be wear they're going wrong. 'To get the most out of your spinning workout, squeeze your glutes whenever you're lifting your bum off the seat. A higher resistance will also encourage your glutes to work more and provide a more challenging workout. Move in a controlled manner to force your muscles to work harder. If your torso is moving around too much, it will take the pressure off your glutes, so keep the core strong throughout the whole workout to limit any rock from side to side in the upper body.'


You're not working your core

Thought spinning was about strong legs and a strong willpower? Think again. 'Your core is a series of muscles, which extends way beyond your abdominal muscles. For indoor cycling specifically, a strong core helps to improve your posture on the bike, alleviates lower back pain, and also supports with stability and overall coordination. Core exercises that you could put together into a circuit to try off the bike include plank variations (forearms and side plank), single leg crunches, scissor kicks, power bridges and a boat pose hold. A strong core will complement everything you do. It is the key to great technique, strength and stamina.' Add this abs workout to next week's training plan, you're spinning workout will thank you for it.


You're pushing and not pulling

There's an art to spinning. 'As you’re peddling, ensure that the movement in your leg involves pushing forwards and down; and then pulling back and up,' says Hainsby. Think of this motion as the four points to a perfect pedal stroke:

  1. Forward

  2. Down

  3. Back

  4. Up

Top tip: Throughout the ride, your feet should be flat on the pedals, not pointed - pointing your toes can increase the strain on your quads. As mentioned before, good engagement of your hamstrings and glutes helps create an overall circular motion.


Your resistance is too high

Don't let your exercise bike run away with your. If you put the resistance up so high you can't keep up with the beat you'll lose momentum in your spin class. Always try to find the beat with the rest of the riders and then aim to push ahead of it to create an interval effect.


Your resistance is too low

Ever been on an exercise bike and spent far too much time bouncing about on the saddle? We hear you. This is the reason why. If the resistance is minimal your hips tend to bounce in the saddle, which isn't great for your back and certainly won't tone your back side. Recruit your glutes and core by applying resistance and stabilising your hips.


You're missing the beat

Speed is great, but this isn't the only marker of a successful spin class. If you're class is designed to music try to find the beat on one leg for 30 seconds, then shift to the other leg for 30 seconds and then peddle through both feet. If you lose it, watch the instructor and try to match their leg pattern. Listen to the beat of the music and try to press down (initially) as the beat kicks. Spin when you're winning!

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