Indoor cycling is massively popular for a good reason. It’s an efficient way to get your heart pumping in the comfort of your own home and is even better when you’re listening to an on-demand class with a coach and some killer tunes. What’s more, it’s a low impact activity, so it’s great for those looking to get in some cardio that’s easy on the joints. If you’re starting out, you may be wondering where to begin. What kind of stationary bike should you get? Will any pair of athletic shoes be ok to use? Here are our top cycling tips for beginners.
Follow the best Cycling Tips
Choosing your bike
First off, you need to choose your indoor cycling bike. There are several factors to consider, such as the weight of the flywheel (do you want a heavy flywheel for ultimate momentum and resistance, or a lighter one, which is often cheaper and easier to move around?). The type of belt on the bike, and the type of resistance the bike is built with (magnet or friction), are other factors to be considered. Plus, you also want a bike that provides lots of customization options in terms of the bike’s dimensions. Being able to adjust the height of the seat is essential, both for your comfort while riding and for efficiency. Handlebar adjustment is also important.
Also, consider the technology included with the bike. Several higher-end models come with power meters and some can integrate with heart rate monitors to show a more accurate calorie burn. Be careful when shopping though, sometimes a bike may advertise some fancy tech, but it actually costs extra as an add-on purchase.
Lastly, consider the pedals. We highly recommend a bike with proper pedals that feature clips rather than just sneaker baskets. Often, cheaper bikes do not come with these pedals included, but if you have even an ounce of DIY capability in you, you can always buy the pedals separately and replace them yourself.
For more details on finding your perfect indoor cycling bike, check out our blog post on the topic here.
Choosing your cycling clothes and gear
What you wear can have a great effect on how comfortable you are during your ride. As with any clothes used for exercise, choose a moisture-wicking fabric. It keeps sweat away from your body and helps with temperature regulation. You don’t want sweat or overheating to get in the way of a good workout!
Don’t forget to bring a towel! Even the best moisture-wicking fabric won’t be able to keep your hands and face dry when you really start to work up a sweat. Trust us on this one, it’s always more comfortable to towel-off during recoveries than to just sit there dripping. You also might want a hat or headband to help keep sweat from dripping into your eyes and face.
For added comfort, you can get some biking shorts that have extra padding on your pelvis and crotch where they meet the seat. Or, you could also get a gel seat cover to provide the same effect.
And now for footwear. To get the most out of indoor cycling, you’ll want a good pair of cycling shoes that have cleats that clip into your bike’s pedals. Your efficiency in pedaling will improve with these lightweight, stiff shoes, which help transfer most of your pedaling power to, well, the pedals! Be very sure that you purchase shoes that are compatible with your bike’s pedals! The most popular type of clip and cleat system found on indoor cycling bikes is called SPD (short for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics). But be careful! There are several types of cleat out there, including some that have very similar names to each another, so just be sure to double check before purchasing.
Of course, if you’re not ready for clip-on shoes, you can opt to just use your bike’s sneaker baskets. In that case, look for a lightweight sneaker that will support your foot through the range of motion in pedalling.
As with starting any sort of exercise program, consult your doctor beforehand if you have any health issues. Start small and work your way up to a more intense program. Two to three bike rides a week at a moderate pace is a great start. As you build up strength and stamina, increase the number of times a week you hop on your bike, as well as the speed and resistance you add during each class.
No special diet is needed for cycling, but if you’re regularly doing long workouts, eat a snack or meal with some complex carbs for energy. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Get a good water bottle and store it nearby during your ride so you can drink as needed. Trust your body and drink when thirsty to prevent both drinking too little but also drinking too much (which can throw off your electrolyte balance). And while no special diet is needed, following a healthy diet with plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats certainly won’t hurt your performance, and they carry with them many other health benefits as well!
Once you’ve got these basics down pat, join our CardioCast community for motivation, inspiration, and amazing coaches to get you started on the right track!