Indoor cycling has become a popular physical activity because it is easy to do right from the comfort of your own home. Not only does it provide a cardiovascular workout, but also works some of the most important muscle groups in the body. You can choose from hundreds of online workout classes with apps, or you can choose to do your own workout on the bike, making it accessible for anyone, at any time of day.
A Customizable Workout
If you have never tried indoor cycling, you might be wondering exactly why this is such a great workout. After all, you are sitting down, right? Indoor cycling works many parts of the body as the ride on a stationary bike can be customized. If you want a challenging workout for your legs, increase the resistance, and you will feel your legs burn. If you want to work on your cardiovascular endurance, lower the resistance and increase your speed for a more sustained burn.
Indoor cycling targets legs and glutes, but you will also work your core as you balance on the bike.
If you take a class, expect the instructor to lead you up intense hills and through fast tracks as well. Your heart rate will stay elevated for the duration of the workout. Because indoor cycling is a challenging workout, it’s important that you start with warm up exercises to prevent injury and end with thorough stretching.
By starting with several stretches to warm your body up, you will also increase your performance during the workout. You can use some of the stretches below before and after your workout.
The Importance of Stretching
Just as it’s important to warm up before your workout, there are many benefits to stretching after you spin. Stretching can increase flexibility and athleticism and help increase your mobility to help you move with ease. Stretching also increases your range of motion. A study by the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that both static and dynamic stretching are effective in increasing range of motion.
Stretches for Indoor Cyclists
You should aim to stretch for at least 5-10 minutes after you spin. Since you’re already warm, an even longer stretch session can have more lasting benefits. An individualized program by a qualified coach is always advised, however, the following eight stretches are ones that can be very helpful for any indoor cycling enthusiast:
This is a great stretch for the back of the legs, from the calves to the hamstrings. While still on the bike and feet in the pedals, hold the handles and drop your elbows to the bar as you stand out of the saddle. Drop your heels down and hinge forward at the waist. Let your head and chest drop and lengthen your spine. With your left foot forward, hold for 30 seconds. Then, do a half-rotation and put your right foot forward. Hold for 30 seconds.
Now, remove your cycling shoes and get off the bike. The following stretches are done on the ground.
The Banana Stretch
This is one of our favorite stretches because it addresses your whole side body. If you have a mobility stick, you can use that. If not, you can use the side of a doorway. Hold the stick with both hands, cross your leg away from the stick, and gently bend your upper body toward the stick or wall. You should feel the stretch in your obliques, shoulders, and back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stretching your hard-working hamstrings after an indoor cycling session is crucial so they don’t tense up. Once you get off the bike, put one heel on top of the handlebars. Grab the inside of your foot with the opposite hand. Gently pull your chest toward the leg. Repeat with the other leg. Hold each side for 30 seconds.
Place your right hand on the handlebars and lift your left leg toward the back so your heel touches your bottom. Grasp your foot with your left hand and pull the leg in, keeping your hips straight. Then repeat with the right leg. Try to hold this for 30 seconds on each side.
Place your hands against a nearby wall at shoulder height. Bring one leg behind you and place the foot flat on the floor. Lean forward over the leg while keeping the back knee straight and then switch legs after 30 seconds. You will feel this stretch up the back of your calves.
Figure Four Stretch
This Figure Four stretch addresses the piriformis, which is a small muscle located behind the gluteus maximus that runs from the lower spine to the upper surface of the femur. This area is put to work during an indoor cycling class! To perform this stretch, lay on your back with your knees propped up. Take one leg and cross your ankle over the thigh of the opposite leg. Then, grab the thigh of the leg on that side and gently pull up towards you. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on both sides.
This move will loosen your hips. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat as far as you can go without lifting your heels. Press your knees open with your elbows.
We love this stretch for the hamstrings and shoulders, which can get tight during a ride. Stand with feet hip-width apart and interlace your hands behind your back. Bend over at the hips with your chin tucked and bring your hands toward the ceiling. Keep the shoulders and neck relaxed.
Going through these seven stretches will take about 8-10 minutes, depending on how long you hold each one. A thorough stretch after every indoor cycling workout will relieve any tightness in these muscles.