As there are so many technique demands in a cycling class it is important to set the bike up correctly for comfort, safety and efficiency, says Annette Chatterton Fitness Coach and Director at the Australian Institute of Fitness SA.
Your leg length determines the seat height of the bike; as you sit comfortably your leg should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke without any lateral pelvic displacement. To check this during set up, when the heel is on the pedal (not cleated) the leg should be straight but not locked. There shouldn’t be much knee flexion at this stage. When the foot is in the cage or cleated, the knee will be flexed approximately 10 degrees.
The cleats will put your foot in an effective force producing position. If you use the pedal cage, line the pedal attachment point with your metatarsal joint so you can use your foot to create a circular action. This action engages the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves in sequence. Your Spin Instructors may be using the cues push, drag, and pull, so listen out for these.
You should maintain neutral spine during seated spins, seated climbs, standing climbs, and standing attacks. Many participants sit in posterior tilt due to tight hamstrings and poor bike set up, and this position can result in lower back discomfort and eventual strain. The relationship between the handle bars and the seat is important to maintain natural spine. A quick guide is to put your elbow at the tip of the seat, extend the forearm and your finger tips should touch the neck of the handle bars.
An even more accurate analysis is to place the feet parallel to the floor (at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock) with the feet in the cleats or cages. A plump line from the patella should pass through the metatarsal joint. Look down over your knee cap and you should be able to see your toes.
An efficient aero-dynamic road racing position is set up with the handle bars lower than the seat height. This isn’t needed indoors, so normally handle bars and seat would be at the same height. If you cannot maintain neutral spine, raise the handle bars slightly.
If the spin bike has a forward/backward handle bar adjustment check that natural spine can be maintained in the ride easy position, racing, aero racing, and hill climbing position. Allow leg space too; the knees shouldn’t hit the handle bars.
Often participants shift their body weight too far forward in the hill climb. Weight should be maintained over the pedals, and knee, hip flexion, and alignment maintained while weight shifts left to right. Elbows should remain flexed and close to the body.
Also watch that you don’t ride into parked cars’! If you drop your head down your spine will curve. This increases stress on the thoracic discs and their breathing may be restricted.
Check that you aren’t riding like a cowboy’ in your spin class! That means that your knees shouldn’t be pointed outwards.
Safe, effective riding burns heaps of calories and prevents injuries, so have fun and make sure you get to your spin class a few minutes early to set the bike up correctly each time!