I'm a personal trainer, a holistic health practitioner, and a certified Pilates and fitness instructor. Next to Pilates, indoor cycling is my favorite way to stay fit. And just like in Pilates, your posture while doing the exercise is paramount!
Great posture on the bike isn’t just for safety; it’ll allow you to get the most bang for your buck during that 45-minute sweat session. While I usually like to keep my eye on the cute instructor on the podium, sometimes my Pilates-instructor eye can't help looking around the room and cringing at what I see. Here are my top tips on how to have great posture during your indoor cycling class:
1. Keep your head in line with your spine.
While on the bike, you should be able to draw a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone. That means you shouldn't be craning your head upward to look at the hot instructor or hanging your head down hiding from your ex-boyfriend. Your booty should be back over the saddle of the bike. Try not to tuck the tailbone down toward the floor. Imagine that your "cheeks" have headlights on them, and shine them at the bike behind you. This posture sets you up for power and efficiency. If you are too far forward, you are using more of your quadriceps muscles. They will fatigue much faster than your glutes and hamstrings that are engaged in the "booty over the saddle" position. By staying back, you are also helping to prevent neck pain and low back pain.
2. Keep your shoulders out of your ears.
As you are pushing hard during a sprint or a climb, your legs start to fatigue. You clasp the handlebars a little tighter, your shoulders start to creep up to your ears, and suddenly your neck is tighter than tight. When this happens, drop the shoulders out of your ears. Slide your shoulder blades down your back, loosen the grip on the handlebars, reset the posture back over the saddle of the spin bike, and put your energy back into your booty and legs. Now you are riding more efficiently and preventing sore neck muscles!
3. Don't hyperextend your knees.
Imagine a ballroom dancer; they tend to dance with hyperextended knee joints. The same thing can happen on a bike, and it's usually caused by not riding with enough tension or gear. You know the part of the class when you have to turn that knob to the right? If you add too much gear you won't be able to go fast enough, but don't add enough and you'll feel like your legs are out of control. That means you're probably hyperextending your knee joints. Or imagine that you are climbing a hill. It's tough, and the music is good, and you're slamming one foot down on the pedal as you move side to side up that hill. Again, you're probably hyperextending the knee joints. The fix? Making sure you have the right gear to ride with control and that you have a soft bend at the knee at all times.
4. Keep your elbows strong but soft.
If your indoor cycling class has a hand-weights section, there’s a good chance you are hyperextending your elbows! Let’s face it, 2- to 3-pound weights are NOT that heavy, and they are easy to throw around. As you extend your arms up and over the head for a shoulder press or out in front of you as if you are boxing with the weights, keep your elbows strong but soft. Resist the urge to “snap” the elbow joint as you extend.
5. Put on a (pretend) corset.
Indoor cycling instructors (and Pilates instructors) love to say, “Pull in your core!” Most people suck their stomach in and call it a day. That’s not enough! If you imagine that you are wearing a corset or a wide belt around your abdomen, and you cinch it tight, you are now engaging your transverse abdominis muscle. This muscle is responsible for maintaining a stable spine and pelvis. This is a key cue to prevent low back pain and injury!
Unlike the Reformer in Pilates class that can only minimally be adjusted for a client, indoor cycling bikes have many adjustments that when combined with these cues, can help you ride more efficiently and safely. All studios and gyms encourage riders that need it, to arrive a few minutes early and have an instructor help you get set up on the bike. Take advantage of this service, use my cues, and have a better, safer ride.