Make the most of standing climbs and "runs" with expert spinning advice that will boost the efficiency of your cardio workouts
Sure, sitting on the stationary bike and powering through a brutal "hill" climb in an indoor cycling class can be super challenging, but new research shows you’d be better off getting out of the saddle—even if that slows you down a bit. A recent study in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that standing climbs and “runs” provide the greatest cardio response in spin class (compared to sitting) even when you're not pedaling at your max effort. (Check out 8 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training.) You should, however, be sure to maintain good form while standing—if you get hurt, you won’t be able to ride seated or standing! Take these four tips from Kaili Stevens, a SoulCycle instructor in New York City, to heart next time you hop on the bike.
Many riders make the mistake of not using enough resistence and bounce around while standing on the bike. “You need to use your resistance knob to find how much resistance or weight makes you feel like there is support or "something to step on" when you are pedaling,” explains Stevens. That means you’ll likely need more resistance when standing than you do when cycling “easy” while seated. So crank it up!
Connect the Chain
“Think about the connection of your muscles and joints from bottom to top— ankles, knees, your spine, hips, shoulders, and neck—and remember to keep your "chain" in alignment,” says Stevens. “Everything should move in the same direction to reduce any strain on your joints—and be sure not to round your back.” (Are Your Workouts Causing Pain? How to Find Out.)
“Stay into the balls of your feet while standing, but avoid overly pointing your toes which causes your heels to go higher than the plane of the pedal,” says Stevens. Once you have that down, think about lifting up on your pedal stroke instead of stomping down. “This will relieve your quads and build the strength in your hamstrings which will help you feel more stable,” says Stevens.
Take a Sit Break
It’s still OK to sit down from time to time! In fact, Stevens advises doing so any time you feel unbalanced or notice your form slipping. “Proper form and balance takes a lot of practice so if you feel off kilter sit down, reset, and try again,” she says.