Beating Workout Woes: Cycling

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Working out can be a drag. From time limits to repetition and lack of motivation, there’s always an excuse we CAN come up with to skip the sweat. Want to shake up your workout this year? We’ll be breaking down a few options to consider trying.

Indoor cycling is becoming even more popular than it has been in the past for its high-calorie burning and stamina building. Just as it sounds, spinning involves a stationary bike can burn an average of 300 to more than 600 calories in a 45-minute class, according to the American Council on Exercise

These classes come with full experience. They are led by a cycle instructor and generally have a theme with matching music, and is often done in a dimmed room setting. Some come with screens to play music videos or images of outdoor scenery. It's all about riding to the beat of the music, clearing the mind to focus on getting the most out of the ride.

Check out this peek inside one of KTX’s intense classes:

Due to the intensity that can come with indoor cycling, riders clip in their special spin shoes or strap their feet in the holders. Riding without laces is ideal, but if you do have them, make sure they are tied tight and tuck them in for safety. 

There are three numbers to pay close attention to. The first is RPM or revolutions per minute. This is speed. The second number to watch is resistance. This is turned up and down throughout the duration of the ride to simulate changes in elevation of the ground, such as climbing a hill. The third is power. This is how hard the rider is working. The higher the RPM and resistance, the higher the power.

While it's meant to have fun, the ride is what the rider puts into it. Although it seems like it would only work legs, one session can provide a full body workout. Throughout the class, the rider utilizes a variety of positions both standing and sitting. With proper form, the rider engages their core. There are different techniques done throughout that will help achieve this. Sprinting is the rider's cardio. This involves pedaling at maximum speeds for a specified amount of time. It can be 15, 30 or even 60 seconds. Jumps include transitioning from standing to sitting in intervals. If done correctly, jumps work the quads. Climbing involves adjusting the resistance, making it more intense to simulate a hill. This can be rewarding, but be careful not to overdo it as to avoid injury. There is even usually a section focused on arms using free weights or a weighted bar to work triceps, biceps, and chest. As should be done before the class, be sure to stretch after as well to avoid injury and muscle tightening. 

CYCLEBAR and SoulCycle are popular indoor cycling-only studios around the country and the world, but due to popular demand, many full-service gyms offer cycling classes. There are even a handful of cycling-focused apps including Peloton and CycleCast, designed for an at-home session. All that is needed is a stationary bike and phone, tablet or smart TV to follow the instructor.

When cycling at home, be sure the bike's seat and handlebar height are correct, as well as their distance. It is important to make sure all measurements are suited for the rider's height, that the leg is able to extend without locking out when pedaling, knees are in line with the ankle, and handlebars are even with seat height according to Cat Kom of Studio Sweat. After adjusting, be sure all knobs are secure.

Watch Cat explain how it’s done here:

There is more to cycling than spinning on a stationary bike. If you already do cycling, add a twist to it and consider aqua cycling. It’s just as you guessed. With aqua cycling, the rider is partially submerged in water, from the torso down, adding more resistance than spinning in a studio. There are more intense versions of aqua cycling, where the rider is completely submerged and uses scuba gear and a specialized non-stationary bike.

Not your thing? Outdoor cycling is more intense as it involves being aware of surroundings, learning the rules of the road, and dealing with terrain and the elements of heat or a surprise rain shower. On top of that, since the bike is not stationary, it is not the best option for those who cannot ride a bike. Many communities have outdoor cycling groups that ride together in packs. Whichever you pick, know that it's more than a workout or hobby. It's a career for some. Cycling in its various forms is included in the Olympic Games, mountain bike racing and track cycling.

Wondering what other workouts you can try to beat your workout woes? Stay tuned for more.