How to Warm up Properly for an Indoor Cycling Workout
I have been an indoor cycling instructor for many years, and in that time, one thing I was very particular about with my clients was doing a proper warm up. When it comes to a warm up for indoor cycling, many of us don’t actually know how to properly warm up as not all of us have had the guidance we need. Indoor cycling instructors always start a class with a warm up, and if you are training on your spin bike from home, you wouldn’t have had this.
When you buy your own spinning bike, there’s very little information to help you start, and online, there’s not much great advice available. To be frank, many of those writing about indoor cycling and spin bike, never used an indoor bike. In this article, we are going to teach you how to do a quick, efficient indoor cycling warm up and tell you why a warm up is a vital part of your turbo and spinning workout.
Why do we doing a warm up for an indoor cycling class?
Warm ups are vital to not only having a good workout, but they can help with so much more than you think. In this next section, we will speak about the benefits of doing a warm up before we start.
Mental and Physical Preparation
The first thing to mention about a warm up is that we do it to prepare us for the class. Not only do we need the body to be physically prepared, but we also need the time to get our mind mentally ready for the task at hand.
Raise Body Temperature
When we warm up, we need to raise the body’s temperature. When the body is warm, oxygen becomes more available to your muscles, and we can deliver oxygen to where it’s needed much more efficiently. With more oxygen, we get better performance.
To Increase Flexibility
When muscles have been used and are nice and warm, they have much better flexibility and also an increased range of motion. This is vital to getting the best performance and avoiding putting too much strain on the body too quickly.
Warming up correctly is vital to give yourself the best chance of staying injury free. When you start working out, your muscles are cold and tight. A warm up is the time you need to loosen the muscles and get ready to go. There’s a high risk of injuries when working with cold muscles.
Reduces Perceived Exertion
When we warm up correctly and prepare for the class, typically, we manage higher workloads better as our rate of perceived exertion typically feels less and we can push ourselves further and produce a better power output.
What Warm Up should I be doing?
As an indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer for many years, this is my recommended warm up. It might not be for everyone, but you will be ready for a serious cycling workout afterward. It should take about 5 – 10 minutes and will be a mix of off the bike and off the bike work. If you feel discomfort while doing this warm up, stop and seek advice.
Step One: Limber up
You first need to free the joints and loosen them up ready for a good workout. You’re going to want to roll them and loosen them off 10 seconds clockwise and 10 seconds anti-clockwise in this order.
Once this is done, you should feel much looser, and your joints are now a little more lubricated inside than they were before.
Step Two: Light Dynamic Movements
Now we’re going to want to start doing a few dynamic movements to prepare the body for a heavier workout that is coming up on the indoor cycling bike. Start by doing these very lightly and let them slowly build up in range as you progress.
Please make sure the proper form is being used. To establish proper form, I recommend looking at a few videos on Youtube to know what you’re doing.
- Bodyweight Squats
Three sets of eight bodyweight squats will get the leg muscles opened up and working freely. Make sure you keep the back straight and feel the activation in the buttocks.
Three sets of four lunges on each side will get the legs working independently and open up those hips to get you ready to go. Make sure to keep the back straight, even if you lean forward a little. Push from the front leg when bringing yourself up from the lower position to the higher position.
- Lateral Lunges
Three sets of four on each side. Now we need to get those abductors and adductors fired up. Lateral lunges are an excellent way of doing this. Instead of lunging forward and back, you lunge to the side.
Step Three: On the bike build up
Now we need to get on the spin bike (or road bike if you use a turbo trainer) and start getting used to that pedaling movement. So make sure the bike is set up correctly for you. If you are unsure, think about getting a proper spin bike fit. Jump on the bike, the warm up time on the bike should last about 5 minutes.
- Minute One
Before you start pedaling, make sure there’s very little to no resistance (turn the knob counter-clockwise all the way if you have a magnetic spin bike) and let your legs slowly begin turning. Spend the first 30 seconds just slowly getting the motion right and get yourself comfortable.
- Minute One to Three
After 30 seconds is up, start adding a little bit of resistance and let the legs feel a little bit of pressure. You’re going to want to carry this on, building this up for the next couple of minutes.
- Minute Three to Five
Once you have enough resistance in the indoor bike, have a little stand up and let the body get used to that upper body position for 15 seconds, then sit for 15 seconds. Repeat this three times. Now you’re ready to ride.
- Things to avoid when warming up
Many people end up tailoring a warm up for them personally, and I love this. We are all different shapes and sizes, and all have different abilities, so it is a natural progression to change things for yourself. Here are a few things to avoid.
Dynamic stretching is fantastic, and this is where you open up the range of motion, and it slowly frees the muscles through repetitive motion.
Static stretching is where you are just doing a single pull. I would try my best to avoid static stretching in a warm up as your muscles are cold. Giving them one big pull does provide a risk of stretching it too much and could cause it to tear.
Take your time
When warming up, make sure to take all the time you need. When I wasn’t an instructor, I used to spinning classes, and the instructor would sometimes only give a short 2 minute warm up. I personally think for me this is too short a time. You get much more value from taking 5 minutes and progressing it slower.
Nothing to jerky
Any movements you do when it comes to a warm up should be smooth, slow, and fluent. It shouldn’t be quick and jerky. Quick and jerky movements when your body isn’t warmed up hold a considerable risk of injury, and your body doesn’t always have the flexibility to perform them when it’s cold.
Not doing any upper body
Although warm ups are mainly about bringing the body temperature to where it needs to be for the workout, and we are primarily using the lower body, you will want to get that upper body moved around and loosened off too. Instructors in indoor classes and a cycling studio will generally do upper body movements while warming up.
Warming up is a vital part of a workout, and getting it right will benefit you so much. The last thing you want is not to warm up and end up injured, for example, hurting your left leg and being off the exercise bike for weeks when it could have been avoided with a simple 5 minute warm up. Never forget the importance of a good warm up.