Cycling is low-impact, and using an indoor spin bike gives you total control over the tension, cadence, and effort of your ride.
In addition to writing for Fitness HQ, I’m a cycling instructor at a local gym and love delivering high-energy, calorie-torching classes weekly.
There are literally dozens of ways to teach indoor cycling workouts, and even if you’ve never taken a class, this easy to follow workout is one you can do on your own in about 45 minutes to burn anywhere between 300-450 calories depending on your effort.
I’ve included a few tips to get the most out of your workout, as well as a few common terms to have you ready to hop on the bike and get you climbing hills and racing the flats right away.
Give it a try and be sure to let us know what you think!
Before You Start Your Indoor Cycling Workouts
Before you start the workout, here are a few important tips and tricks to help you get the most out of it.
- Adjust your bike
What is comfortable for one person may not be for another, so it’s important to adjust your bike for your body size.
- Your saddle should be at a height that is just about even with your hip bone when you’re standing on the ground next to the bike.
- When you sit on the bike and pedal, bring your knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Make sure your ankle is either below your knee, or slightly behind it and NOT coming in front of your knee.
- When your hands are on the handlebars make sure that you aren’t putting a lot of pressure on your hands or leaning too far forward. If you are, raise the bars to a more comfortable height.
- Ensure your feet are strapped in securely (or clipped in if you’re wearing shoes with clip-less pedals), but not so tightly that your toes go numb.
- Think about your posture and form
- It’s important to ride with good form to get the most out of your workout. I begin every class by sitting up tall in the saddle, and doing 4 big shoulder rolls back while pedaling gently. Once you’ve achieved this tall spine/shoulders back/head and neck relaxed position, tighten your core and hinge forward at your hips to bring your hands down to your handlebars.
- This should be the position your torso maintains during your entire ride, whether you are seated or standing.
- Your hands should always be light on the handlebars, even during standing climbs. If you find you’re putting too much pressure on them, sit your hips back and use your legs to push and pull.
- Also, think about your knees and elbows during the ride. Work to keep both pulled in towards your midline to keep your joints safe.
- Use your whole pedal stroke
- Unless you’re doing a specific drill, make sure that you are working your pedals through an entire circle with each stroke.
- Think about kicking your foot slightly forward, then pushing down, then scraping gum off the bottom of your shoe, then pulling back up during each stroke.
- Remember to keep your heels down and not to pedal with your toes pointed.
- Follow the beat
- Cycling is typically done to a specific rotations per minute (or RPM’s) for climbing, accelerating, steady state and spring efforts, and this workout is designed to help you achieve those results by simply following the beat of the music. Chase the beat on each song to hit the target RPM for the workout.
Start Your Engine!
- Warm Up – Selena Gomez- Come and Get It
- Begin at a flat road effort. Turn your tension until you feel the road under your pedals. Stay in your saddle and work to pick up the pace of your feet to match the beat of the music. Each minute of the song add just a small turn of more gear while maintaining the beat. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the absolute highest you could possibly go and 1 being a near downhill spin, increase to an effort of 4 by the end of this song.
- Warm Up Progression – Lay Me Down – Dirty Heads ft. Rome
- Moving out of the basic warm up and slowly into an aerobic effort to prepare for our first hill we want to continue adding gear. During this song, add a small gear every 30 seconds while maintaining the pace to achieve an effort of a 6 by the end of the song. A 6 should feel like you’re riding outside on a flat road with a strong headwind. If at any point you lose the beat and have to slow down, stop adding gear and chase the beat for the remainder of the song.
- Seated Climb – Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
- Time for the first effort of the ride! Staying in your saddle begin the song with one large turn on taking the effort to a 7 or above. On each chorus add another turn to increase the tension while keeping the beat of the music. Your effort in this song should peak at around an 8-8.5 in the saddle.
- Standing Climb with Accelerations – Since You’ve Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
- Tightening up your legs and core, come to a standing position on the bike. Your hands can move out to the end of the handlebars into what’s commonly referred to as position 3. When you stand, don’t change your resistance. What felt like an 8+ in your saddle likely feels like closer to a 7 or so standing, and that’s good! Maintain the beat of the song during the verses, and on the choruses pick up your pace slightly for an acceleration that is just faster than the beat. This accelerations may take you slightly anaerobic, and that’s ok. If they aren’t challenging, don’t hesitate to add a little more gear.
- Seated Recovery – John Cougar, John Deer, John 3:16- Keith Urban
- Take off your gear down to a flat road (a 5 on your scale of 1-10), and spin out your legs to the beat of this song. When you get to the last minute, add a bit more gear taking you into a headwind and preparing your for the next climb.
- Seated Climb – I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness
- Heading onto our next hill same as the first, give one big turn to get up to a 7+ at the beginning of the song. Every minute add one more turn chasing the beat of the song. Aim to end the song at an effort of at least 8.5.
- Standing Climb with Accelerations – Bodies – Drowning Pool
- Tighten up and come to standing out in position 3. This time, we are going to take the gear up a notch so that your effort feels like an 8+ standing. This should be a harder and heavier effort than the first standing climb. Like before, match the beat during the verses and on the chorus give your pedals a little extra juice to accelerate.
- Standing Runs – Run Boy Run – Woodkid
- When “Bodies” ends, stay standing but reach down and take two gears off so that your effort level is at around a 6. This should be enough gear that you are completely in control of the wheel, but light enough to allow your legs to spin a bit more freely. Move your hands from position 3 up to position 2, which is at the bend in the handlebars and where you were likely holding when seated. This is a more upright position. The tempo of this song picks up a bit, so use your legs and core to match the beat.
- Seated Climb – Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk – Trace Adkins
- Heading into our last hill of the workout, this one is a doozy. Keep your tension right where it was from your standing runs when you sit down and you should end up at right about an effort of 7- firmly on a hill. During this song, every 30 seconds you will add a gear topping out at a solid 9. Make sure you don’t drop your RPMs below the beat of the music, and drive with your heels during this effort.
- Standing Climb with Accelerations – Anyway You Want It – Journey
- This is it! Home stretch! Last song before we start to cool down. From your seated climb at an effort of 9 take off JUST ONE gear and stand up. Ready for a challenge? Chase the beat. It should feel pretty uncomfortable with the amount of gear on your bike. If you have it, push through the choruses at just above the tempo of the song to completely empty your tank during this last effort.
- Seated Recovery – Motownphilly – Boyz II Men
- Take your gear down to about a 6 and have a seat. Pick up your pace to match the beat of this song (it’s fast) to give your legs a good spin and flush out the lactic acid. During the last minute, take off a bit of gear every 15 seconds to bring you down to an effort level of 4 by the end of the song.
- Cool Down – Here – Alessia Cara
- You did it! Chances are good you’re drenched in sweat and your heart rate is still elevated. Use this song to let your legs slowly return to whatever your comfortable, casual pedaling pace is. Roll out your neck, wrists, shoulders and elbows. Keep softly pedaling through the music to allow your heart rate to come down naturally.
For more awesome articles from Nicole on fitness and how to get your cycling workout on, click here.