Shoddy form can turn a low-impact, calorie-burning workout into a pain-inducing ride from hell.
Think you’re too macho to hop on an indoor bikeOpens a New Window. for a workoutOpens a New Window.? You’ll likely reconsider once you realize how beneficial the low-impact cardio activityOpens a New Window. is.
While body-fat percentage, height, age, and other factors determine just how many calories you’ll burn per sessionOpens a New Window., a 190-pound guy riding for an hour can incinerate upwards of 670 calories, according to mapmyfitness.com.Opens a New Window. But if you pedal like a mindless meat stick, your odds of experiencing joint or back pain or screwing up an awesome cardio session kick into high gear.
Here, Mantas Zvinas, a senior instructor at SoulCycle in New York City, explains how you can avoid the most common mishaps.
1. You lean to one side
When you’re racing crotch rockets, you might want to take lean angle into consideration. But when you’re sweating your ass off in a spin class, don’t bother. “It can lead to chronic back pain,” Zvinas explains. “Think of yourself as a scared dog and tuck your tailbone between your legs to keep yourself centered and your backslightly rounded.”
2. You don’t adjust the handles and seat
Chances are the person who pedaled before you has different measurements. So spend a minute adjusting the seat and handles to your size. Zvinas’ rule: “You should have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal and a slight elbow bend when you reach out to grasp the handles.”
3. You’re too tense
Zvinas notes that newbies often come into class looking tense and riding stiffly, which affects the way they ride. “Being tense restricts your bodyOpens a New Window., your blood flow, and the way your muscles move.” Instead, be mindful and keep your grip light and your shoulders down.
4. Your resistance is off
Jack up the resistanceOpens a New Window. on your bike too high and it’ll feel like you’re trying to maneuver your way through quicksand. But you need some resistance to make your workout tough. Also, if the resistance is too light, you’ll put too much strain on your joints as you pedal. Find the sweet spot, where you feel your quads and glutes working with every rotation.
5. You put too much weight on your hands
“Your hands are there to keep you balanced,” Zvinas says. Leaning on them too heavily will force you too far forward and deactivate your coreOpens a New Window.. “Your weightshould be centered, with your hips directly over your pedals,” he says. “Keep your hands on the handles, holding on to them lightly for support.”