As an instructor at SoulCycle, I see so many benefits to group fitness classes. But not everyone has access to SoulCycle (there will be 55 studios nationwide by the end of the year), or other cycling studios. So I’d like to offer some tips on how to turn your stationary-bike workout into a killer SoulCycle-type session that leaves you dripping with sweat.
Everything is better with a soundtrack, so I'm including a few songs for each part of your ride. Music makes cardio more fun, and at SoulCycle the playlist is a huge part of the class — it helps you stick to the pace and stay motivated. Here we go!
1. Prioritize your warmup.
You can’t just jump into a workout. Completing a proper warmup not only protects you from injury, but allows you to fully commit to the work you want to do. Start your ride with a nice, moody song with a good beat. I love “Gold,” by Chet Faker.
Add a few turns of resistance to support your body and movement on the bike. Your warmup should be about four to five minutes.
If you're looking to warm up to something more melodic, try “Awake,” by Tycho. We emphasize riding to the rhythm at SoulCycle so that every pedal stroke is in sync with the music. It allows you to find your groove and provides a constant barometer of where you need to be. Let your legs move to the beat, and get your blood pumping.
2. Resistance is your best friend.
There is a common misconception that resistance and indoor cycling will give you bulky legs. That is a MYTH. Resistance is your greatest ally for achieving your goals on the bike. Once you've warmed up, add a few turns of resistance to your bike. Pick a song with a steady beat. Try “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” by Drake.
Sync each leg with tempo of the song and see how much resistance you can add to your bike while maintaining that pace. How far can you push yourself? It will likely be around three or four turns. If you can’t hit the beat with your pedal stroke then take some of the resistance off.
3. Change gears.
Once that song is over, pick up your pace. The key to getting your body to change is to keep it guessing. Pick a song you love to dance to; try “Get Together,” by Madonna. Add a turn of resistance to support your body on the bike, sit down and just let it go. Speed up and flush out the work you did on the last song. It’s meant to be a release — a moment where you can let go and have fun.
Choose a few more songs that lend themselves to these same paces and alternate them. If you want an extra challenge or a little more intensity, you can always pick up the pace. Pedal hard, get ahead of the beat and use everything you’ve got to get there. “My Hero,” by the Foo Fighters is a perfect song for this. Shoot for short intervals at first (10 seconds), and as you get stronger you can make them longer (30 seconds). Try to do this at the chorus, so that the music supports you. The more resistance you have on the bike, the greater the result. It’s an incredible way to burn fat.
4. Take the time to cool down and stretch.
Just as a proper warmup is necessary, it's equally important to take the time to cool down. I love “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off,” by Ella Eyre. Let your legs roll around on the bike as your heart rate comes down. Once you’re off the bike stretch out your legs, paying particular focus to your hamstrings. Bending over and touching your toes is one of the best ways to open them up. Take your time. Breathe. A good stretch will last at least a few minutes.
While standing next to your bike, and leaving your left hand on the handlebars for support, kick your right heel back and grab your ankle with your right hand. Gently pull your right foot to your right glute. Keep your knee pointed to the ground and allow your quad to open up. Repeat it on the other side.
Pick music that you love. If you’re having a bad day, find a song that’s more aggressive, use it to take your day out on your bike. Listen to your body. Do what feels good for you. Remember that the smallest changes are usually the most effective.