Because a long ride is no easy feat, stretching is key to reap the benefits from miles of sweaty satisfaction. As soon as you hop off the bike, be sure to stretch your tired muscles, paying special attention to your legs and chest. If you're in rush, these five quick and effective stretches will prevent injury and make your next ride the best one yet!
Celebrity fitness guru David Kirsch has trained celebrities like Kerry Washington, Heidi Klum, and Kate Upton. When it comes to developing a fitness regimen for his clients, he recognizes there's not a one-size-fits-all rule. "Everyone's body responds very differently," he says. After chatting about how Kate Upton prepared for the Sports Illustrated cover shoot this year, David and I had the opportunity to discuss his biggest gripes with the way some women train.
With all his clients, David strives to "accentuate curves in a feminine, sexy way, and not bulk their flaws. That's probably the number-one mistake I've seen." He doesn't believe in heavy weight training, and depending on someone's body type, he doesn't hold back about his feeling toward Spin: "For someone like Kerry [Washington], for someone like Kate [Upton], Spinning to me — no matter how en vogue — is not appropriate for what they want. For anyone who has a predisposition for bulking muscle legs, you're not going to do it [Spin]. It's knowing what you need to do for your body type."
If you've hit a weight-loss plateau or have lost motivation at the gym, David suggests that you "reevaluate what you've done up until that point. I always say, [get] stark naked first thing in the morning, [and] go to the mirror. Do a full body assessment: What do you see? What do you like? What don't you like? Then come up with a plan."
Above all else, David wants everyone to "embrace the beauty you have. Not everyone is meant to be the perfect size four or two. Not everyone is going to be Kerry Washington or Kate Upton. It's really about loving yourself, making the changes you can make, and embracing them."
Make sure you get the most out of a stationary bike for the entire hour you spend pedaling. You've shown up, you're dedicated, but not exactly sure how to push things further? Here are some tips to maximize your indoor-cycling workout and improve your performance even after you let go of the handlebars.
Get up, stand up: Since you aren't on a stationary bike for travel, take advantage of the stability and stand straight up. Make sure to engage your core, and put as little weight as possible on the handlebars. Give yourself more resistance and prevent the risk or knee injury by keeping your weight over the hips and bicycle seat.
Increase your resistance: Help sculpt your lower body by turning up the resistance to mimic an uphill ride. As you pedal, keep your foot parallel with the ground and push down through your heel while also maintaining a consistent cadence. For a more intense session, see if you can do short interval bursts during your uphill ride.
Listen to your body: Your neighbor might be going a mile a minute, but you don't know their fitness level, how much resistance they're working with, or their individual training plan. It's important to listen to your own body when challenging yourself. If you don't feel like you're exhausting your muscles, as you should, go a little faster. But be sure to scale back if you find that you're going too hard.
Engage your core: It's so simple to do and easy to forget. If you engage your abs, you not only provide better posture for your ride, but you burn more calories. This is a win-win situation. If the intervals feel too tough to multitask at first, start by engaging your core during the water breaks when you sit back in the saddle. Eventually you will be able to increase your core activity for the whole hour and might find yourself using them more in your everyday life.
Finish with protein: Noshing on lean protein after your workout can help speed up muscle recovery and prevent soreness, which means there are no excuses for missing your workout the next day. Make sure to eat or drink a protein-filled snack within 30 minutes of getting off the bike.
Indoor cycling is all the rage these days, especially with rainy days and cooler temps. And we know that setting up a stationary bike can be intimidating. Since the proper fit makes the workout so much better — and prevents injury — we tapped endurance rider Audry Adler to give us the skinny on adjusting a bike. Watch and learn! Then head to cardio cycling early to set up your bike just right and then get your sweat on.
We've all been there: the anticipation, the buildup, and then the letdown when an indoor cycling class is full! Before you take this as a sign to get back in the car and call it a night, consider these alternatives — and gym adventures — that may just leave you more satisfied than scouring for an available bike.
How many times have you been told to pull your shoulders away from your ears in a studio cycling class? Keeping your shoulders down not only makes your neck feel better, it improves overall efficiency, from your posture to your pedal stroke. While spinning my pedals in a studio cycling class at Equinox, instructor Lisa Horowitz reminded us all that the position of the shoulder affects the rest of the body too. The concept, known as joint centration, means what goes on in one joint affects the joints above and below it — what's happening at the shoulder affects the spine and the hips.
When on a bike, whether indoor or out, many people hunch the shoulders up while leaning over the handlebars, which leads to a rounded spine — not the ideal position for cycling. Pulling the shoulder blades down and back opens up your chest and diaphragm: this makes it easier to breathe and helps put the back in a neutral position, which restores the arch to the lumbar spine and corrects the angle of the pelvis. With the spine and pelvis in correct alignment, the hip flexors can fire effectively, improving your pedal stroke. Correct shoulder positioning also engages the lats and turns on the abs to help support the torso.
Lisa also suggested raising the handlebars on a stationary bike a little higher than usual to see if it helps posture and positioning. Try it and let us know how it goes.
Indoor cycling classes are an amazing cardio workout, but if you don't know what you're doing, you'll walk away frustrated, or, even worse — injured. Compared to other group fitness classes, indoor cardio cycling is also a little harder to pick up on when trying it for the first time. After getting the lowdown on what to expect from your first class, follow these rules on things you should never do in an indoor cycling class.
- Arrive to class late: As a rule, be on time for any fitness class, but more so if you plan on riding. Since there is a cap on the amount of bikes in a class, most gyms require students to register ahead of time (either online or using a sign-up sheet). A few minutes before or after class starts, instructors often release unclaimed bikes to those on the waiting list. Show up late, and chances are the bike you registered for will be taken, or, if you didn't sign up at all, the class will be full.
- Hop on the bike as-is: This is definitely not a one-size-fits-all scenario — the person who was on the bike previously may have a good 10 inches on you. To avoid injury and ensure a comfortable ride, adjust the bike to suit your body. You'll also want to make sure the handlebars and seat are firmly secure to avoid any wobbling during class. Watch this video to learn the proper way to set up an indoor cycling bike.
Find out what else you should never do during an indoor cycling class — including pedaling too fast — after the break!
We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Self here on FitSugar!
On a recent visit to Cycle House in West Hollywood, I was amazed to discover how fast an hour-long indoor cycling class can pass when you're cycling alongside a high-energy, no-nonsense fitness instructor. It's no wonder celebrities like Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman are flocking to this new hot spot! Not only did I torch major calories, but I could barely get off the couch the next day.
"Every instructor is committed to creating the most effective interval-training, body-toning, heart-pumping, calorie-torching, challenging, fun rhythm ride workout that cannot be duplicated," says Cycle House Chief Ride Officer Nichelle Hines. "Indoor cycling allows you to craft a true training style that allows you to really shape and tone your body by adjusting speed and resistance while engaging the mind."
Luckily, you don't need to be a movie star to experience the Cycle House craze. All you need is a stationary bike to put the pedal to the metal. Says Hines, "I think the workout is so popular with the Cycle House client for one reason. It works!"
To burn 500 to 1,000 calories per hour at home, "find songs you like that inspire you" and "ride as much as you like as long as it feels good," says Hines. Incorporate these five moves into your regular routine at least twice a week for a full lower-body workout.
See the at-home cycling workout after the break!
Since it's important to vary workouts and keep the body guessing, this year I resolved to add indoor cycling to my usual running-and-weights fitness routine. I made sure to wear and bring the right items to the gym, but I learned a few technique-related tips during class that I wish I'd known earlier. Planning to try an indoor cycling class for the first time? Keep these three pointers in mind to steer clear of injuries and make the most of your workout.
- Regularly shift your hands: To avoid stiff, sore wrists, be sure to move your hands around the handlebars by correctly incorporating the standard cycling hand positions. You should try to keep your hands slightly loose — no death grips necessary — and do your best to let your weight fall into your feet, rather than leaning your entire body into your hands. It's also important to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
- Keep pedal rotations pause-free: Aim to make each pedal revolution as smooth as possible so that you don't put any extra strain on your ankles or the balls of your feet. There's a natural tendency to pause at the bottom of a rotation — especially during standing intervals — so make sure that your leg and glute muscles stay in a constant push-and-pull rhythm. To achieve this, try keeping your feet flat rather than letting your heel turn up and toe push down.
- Focus on technique, not resistance: As you ease into indoor cycling, don't worry too much about the resistance level on your bike. Instead, strive to stay moving throughout the entire class and learn to fluidly transition between the sitting and standing positions. Later, when you've grown more comfortable on the bike, you can begin to worry about increasing resistance and amping up your workout.
Indoor cycling studios are taking the fitness scene by storm — popping up in private studios and gyms all over the country as people can't get enough of this intense cardio workout. If you are new to indoor cycling, there are a few basics to know before heading to your first class, but just know that cardio cycling isn't scary! Like yoga, going to class prepared with a few essential items can help make your hour sweat session more enjoyable — be dressed and geared up for indoor cycling class success. Find out what these items are!