3 Spinning Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Performance Outcome

Whether your indoor cycling skills are out of this world or nothing home to write about, you can ruin this powerful exercise by committing some subtle and not-so-subtle mistakes. Hence, you have to take extra care to make the most of your spinning class or activity. You want to make sure that you are properly working your muscles and gaining all the benefits by using the bike accurately and working out properly. On that note, here are some common spinning mistakes that you “must” avoid like the plague!

Avoid these 3 Spinning Mistakes to Maximize your Workout

1. You aren’t Setting up Properly


The Mistake: Your saddle is too low.

You may have spent a good time learning all about spinning but nothing about setting up the bike itself. And this is nothing but courting problems that can put your efforts to waste or expose you to injury. To begin with, your seat might be too low, and a good indicator of this error is the persistent soreness in your hips and knees that follows a spinning session. Spinning on a lower-than- low saddle can make your body too sore for the next ride. Plus, an overly low saddle can affect your range of motion when you engage the pedals, causing you to lose quality stride performance.

The correction: If you work with an instructor, enlist their help in getting the right saddle settings that complement your height. A general rule of thumb is to stand next to the bike and position the saddle at the same height as your hipbone. Then sit on the saddle and confirm if you can reach the pedal with your knees at a slight angle and your foot flat to the ground. When you ascertain the settings that best suit your height and convenience, note/mark the number ( most magnetic spin bikes typically have number labels to depict the settings for adjustment purposes).

The Mistake: Your handlebars are too low or high.

The handlebars are designed to support your posture, so you can ride efficiently without discomfort. However, you can jeopardize this function by messing with the handlebar settings. If your handlebars are too high or low, you might have to deal with a myriad of difficulties over time, including pain and injury. Your handlebars being too low may induce fatigue and pain in the lower back. And if your handlebars are too high, your shoulders will bear the brunt of your error.

The Correction: Ensure that your handlebars are well-adjusted, such that your shoulders feel relaxed and are not competing with your ears (they shouldn’t reach your ears when you work out). But if you have lower back issues or restrictions, you can try adjusting your handlebars a little higher than usual so that you can sit up taller without leaning over to grab the handles.

The Mistake: You relied on the elbow-to-fingertip rule to gauge your handlebar setup.

You’ve probably heard about or even used the popular elbow-to-fingertip measurement in setting up your handlebars. The so-called “hack” states you can figure out the reach of your handlebars by measuring the length of your forearm from the elbow to the middle fingertip. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but, this tip isn’t just outdated but illogical. Why? the arm isn’t proportional to the torso, and doing this may only place you further from the bike, causing discomfort, pain, and a futile ride.

The Correction: rather than use the elbow-to-fingertip measurement, get on the bike and adjust according to your comfort. Ensure that your body isn’t sandwiched between the seat and the handlebar and you shouldn’t reach far ahead for the handles when spinning.

2. Your Spinning Ensemble Leaves a lot to be Desired


The Mistake: Your pants are way too slack.

You may want to feel fashionable or uber comfortable in baggy pants, but you need to let those go; they belong in other settings and not on a spin bike. Contrary to your ideal, loose pants may be more uncomfortable than comfortable on a bike. Riding can be a sweaty affair, and all that extra fabric from your baggy pants can stick out like a sore thumb. Plus, it is too much of a distraction to have your pants flying around while you pedal.

The Correction: The best spinning apparels are tight-fitting shorts or leggings. They won’t hang unpleasantly from your body nor flail about while you ride. They are a pleasant companion for the ride. Ensure to choose leggings made of moisture-wicking or breathable fabrics to counteract sweat.

The Mistake: You don’t clip in your shoes.

Cycling shoes come with clips or cleats for a reason — they provide a stable connection to the pedals so you can securely ride without worrying about your feet. The durable soles also support stroke efficiency, so you can maximize your workout to the fullest.

The Correction: It is quite simple; clip in your shoes! The last thing you want is your feet continuously slipping off the pedals while taking a spin. Also, don’t forget to cycle correctly; keep your feet flat against the ground instead of lifting your heels and exerting pressure on your lower back.

3. You are not Maintaining Proper Form


The Mistake: Your resistance is too low or too high.

Resistance is practically the driving force of a spin workout! It is one of the parameters that determine the quality of your performance as well as the outcome of your exercise. You can’t ignore the power of resistance if you are looking to burn as many calories as possible. And to do that, you need to step up your resistance game. Spinning at low-tension settings will get you nowhere near your goals. On the other side of the coin, your resistance might be too high. You know your resistance is beyond control when you can’t cycle in tune to the music, stay within your targeted RPM range, or are too breathless to focus!

The Correction: Adjust your resistance settings, so it is neither too low nor too high. Turn the tension knob to the right to amp up your resistance levels for more challenge and calorie burn. A too-low resistance can accelerate your cadence, putting your joints at risk. Turn the resistance knob to the left if you catch yourself struggling to maintain the instructor’s pace.

The Mistake: You lean heavily on the handlebars.

The handlebars may look sturdy, but they are not designed to support the bulk of your weight. You may turn to the handlebars for support when the class’s pace or your resistance becomes too fast for comfort. But you are getting it wrong — you are ideally meant to distribute your weight evenly across the bike. Placing unnecessary weight on the handlebars can be detrimental to your upper body, wrists, shoulders, and quads.

The Correction: Maintain a light grip on the handlebars while paying attention to your posture. Your hips should be at a reasonable distance from the spin bike saddle while your hands should rest lightly yet stably on the handlebars (don’t lean heavily on them, place enough grip to generate the balance you need for stability).

The Mistake: Your foot is in the wrong position.

Pedaling might seem like child’s play, but you want to pay attention to details so you don’t end up with bothersome habits that can invite injury and pain. As tempting as it is to pedal with your toes down, don’t do it! This may come naturally or reflexively once you are clipped in, but try to resist the impulse.

The Correction: you should cycle with your knees, toes, and ankles facing forward. Maintain proper knee alignment and avoid bending your knees too much. Otherwise, you may have to deal with all sorts of ankle pain and discomfort. In addition, don’t turn your feet when you pedal, and for the millionth time, keep your feet flat against the ground.

The Mistake: You get carried away by the music.

Music is good for exercise, no doubt! But if you catch yourself moving boisterously to the beat that you are no longer keeping up with your instructor, it is time to re-assess your priorities. The music may also make you churn out moves that aren’t exactly safe on a bike, and before you can say jack, you are falling off and hitting your body against the hard floor.

The Correction: Granted, you want to flaunt your newly-acquired dance moves or simply can’t resist the flow of good music. However, you can put that choreographical energy to good use, by moving in tune with your cadence or resistance. Try not to move too much or sway side to side!


And there you have it! These are some common spinning mistakes that can short-change your workout and leave you at a loss. If you are guilty of one, two, or all of these mistakes, then you should eat humble pie and implement the given corrections. You sure don’t want your efforts to yield less-than-remarkable results, so do the “necessary” and watch your workout outcome take a turn for the best!

Robbie Ferri
Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri from “Riding with Robbie” has been cycling for almost ten years. In that time, he has broken World Records, Bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. Robbie picked up a bike and started cycling when he was about 25 years old and said it was the best thing he ever did. The experiences and the fun he’s had have given him a huge passion for helping inspire others to ride further, farther, and get fitter.