Cycling/Spinning Workout Tips

Spinning is a great way to get aerobic exercise, but before you start exercising on a stationary bike, you should know the basics about cycling gear and body positioning.

An exercise bike is a great machine to use for aerobic and strength training workouts. Whether you are using a bike at a gym or one that you own, there are several ways to enhance the spinning experience. For one, having the right gear with you will make your cycling workout much easier. As with any form of exercise, especially aerobic exercise, it is very beneficial if you use a heart rate monitor. You also need to make sure that your body positioning is correct so that you are getting the most out of your bike exercise -- your back should be straight, and your arms shouldn't be straight, for example. Following this advice will help you achieve the optimal benefits of a cycling workout.

You should have a bottle of water, a hand towel, and a gel bike seat cover with you for a cycling workout. Many exercise bikes come equipped with water bottle holders, but if your bike does not have one, put your water bottle on a table or shelf that you can reach from a seated position on your bike. It is important that you stay hydrated throughout your workout, so never workout without water on hand. It is also a good idea to drink a glass of water prior to working out for additional hydration. You are going to be breaking a sweat during your workout, so having a hand towel to wipe the sweat from your brow is a good idea, especially if you are taking a spinning class at a gym. As far as your comfort is concerned, a gel seat cover is the most important piece of cycling gear. Any beginner can attest that you rear end is going to be very sore during the first few weeks of cycling. A gel seat can reduce the pain, although you will still feel some discomfort until your body adjusts to regularly sitting on a stationary bike seat. Just keep in mind that discomfort is to be expected, and it will pass - no pain, no gain.

Wear comfortable clothing, making sure that your pants are not too loose or else they could get caught up in the gears of the bike. While you may have heard that you can burn more calories by wearing sweats while you exercise, this is a very dangerous bad idea because you run the risk of overheating and possibly passing out and falling off of your bike. If you have long hair, pull it back into a high ponytail so that it doesn't fly into your face while you are working out. Never cycle without socks and sneakers on. Wear athletic shoes that are geared towards bicycling.

Your body positioning is important because if it is not correct, you could get injured unnecessarily and your endurance will suffer. When you stand beside the bike, the seat should line up with your hip joint. When you sit up straight on the bike, the handlebars should be far enough away that your arms are extended but your elbows are not locked. Never slouch over the front handlebars or rest your forearms on the bars to support yourself during a workout. You should be sitting up straight at all times, with your shoulders back and your abdominal muscles tightened. The middle of your foot should be planted on the pedals, and you should strap your feet in securely, but not so tight that your circulation is cut off. As you pedal, keep your feet parallel with the floor; do not have your toes tilted forward or your heels dug back.

When you are just starting out, don't push yourself too hard. Try for a solid, steady-paced thirty minutes on the bike three times a week for the first couple of weeks. As you begin to get more comfortable, you can increase your speed and the resistance level, and you can gradually work up to hour-long sessions. Turn on some dance music while you cycle so that you have a beat to keep up with. For increased calorie and fat burning, cycle with the "burst" method: pedal at a normal pace for a few minutes, then go at a high-intensity pace for a few minutes, then back to normal for a few minutes, back to intense, and so on. Make sure you always stretch for a minimum of five minutes before and after your workouts.

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