Why Is Indoor Cycling So Hard? (Everything You Need to Know!)

You probably love cycling and going out for bike rides whenever you can. So you automatically assume that taking an indoor cycling class will have the same freedom that outdoor cycling gives you – only to discover that it is not as easy as you thought. As much as it can be challenging, it does wonders for you in helping you increase your speed and power.

However, you do not need to feel like a lost student on their first school day when you get into the indoor cycling class. Here are some reasons that your indoor cycling sessions are likely less than ideal, and what you can do to improve on them.

Mistakes when preparing for indoor cycling class

Your clothes are too loose

If you think that your buggy sweatpants will cut it in your indoor cycling class, you are already starting on the wrong footing. Preparation is just as important as the class itself, so make sure to wear proper workout clothes. In particular, leggings that are form-fitting are best on an exercise bike, as you do not want clothes flailing around when you are in the middle of an exercise session.

You are wearing a weak sports bra

While indoor cycling is a low impact activity compared to a high-impact sport like running, you need a firm sports bra that keeps your breasts in place – you do not want to feel uncomfortable while keeping fit.

The shoes you are wearing are not clipped in

When you use cycling shoes, they allow you to connect them directly to the pedals, which give you more secure strokes and allows you to focus on your cycling, breathing and body posture. At the end, this will help you get the most from your workout and keep your focus on correct pedaling (the foot needs to be neutral and flat).

Mistakes when getting set up

You arrived to class late or on time

While arriving on time sounds nice compared to arriving late, it still does not provide you with sufficient time to pack your things away, get the correct weights and set up the bike for your optimal use. This will leave you uncomfortable throughout the entire session, and you will struggle to catch up.

When you have an indoor cycling class, always make sure you arrive there at least 15 minutes before it begins. This will allow you to set up everything you need, including making adjustments to the bike, before you get started.

The seat is too low

One of the first things you must learn before using an indoor cycling bike is learning how to set it up properly – otherwise, you will run into a host of problems when using it, including the risk of injuries.

For instance, waking up the morning after an indoor cycling class and noticing you have muscle soreness in the knees and hips – it is likely due to the seat being too low. When the saddle is too low, it makes you lose the range of motion you have in your pedaling, which forces the body to not make the most of each stride and causing pain the following day.

If you are unsure, ask your instructor to help you find the correct setting for your height (which is why you need to arrive early). Another alternative is to use the rule that the maximum height of the seat must be at the height of your hipbone. When you are seated, your foot must remain flat, and your knees slightly bent, when the pedal is at the bottom.

Fortunately, seat adjustments are quite easy, since many bikes will have a number that they will associate with specific seat settings, so take note of your own adjustments so that you can change things quickly for the next session.

The handlebars are incorrect in their height

One common mistake many people make when adjusting the handlebars is using the elbow-to-fingertip measurement system when correct adjustment requires you to ignore the elbow measurement. The reason this rule does not work is because the arms are not always in the same proportion as the torso.

This brings the risk of you setting the handlebars too far backward, which leads to you hunching more in order to position the body, and a tendency to bounce as you cycle.

Instead of this technique, hop on the bike instead, then adjust the handlebars from your seat. You must ensure you are close enough to comfortably hold the handlebars – never slouch, avoid lunging, and the body should not feel compressed between the saddle and handlebars.

The handlebars are at an incorrect height

Yes, in case you were not sure what makes the bike setup important, this should convince you even more. Comfort is essential when you are doing your workouts, and handlebar height plays an important role in that.

When the handlebars are high, it is easier for you to keep your shoulders away from your ears, since the waist and spine are elongated. If you want to boost your abs workout, the handlebars should be as close as possible to the height of the saddle.

Regardless of what height you want them to be, always make sure they are never lower than the height of your seat, as this will make you slouch too much and place unneeded pressure on the groin, shoulders and lower back.

The knees bang into the emergency brake

This can only mean one thing – you are slouching too much. Regardless of whether you are out of or on the saddle, banging your knees means that you are sinking into your body joints instead of exercising your core and other muscle groups. The solution here is simple – just push your hips so that your weight remains over the saddle.

The resistance levels are too low

The resistance is part of the success factor – so you need to follow through with the workout carefully. When it is too low, you risk getting pain in your joints due to a pace that is too high – so watch out for signs like a shoe popping out of the pedal clip, or a pedal stroke that is too loose.

Final thoughts

All of these points are meant to increase your workout efficiency, which will bring you better results and make your workouts easier. Many of them are avoidable mistakes, yet are part of the reason that makes indoor cycling sessions difficult – but you can also correct them quickly.