Why & How to Stretch For an Indoor Cycling Session
As a spinning instructor and certified personal trainer, I am often asked about stretching. One of the most common questions is if I should be stretching before riding spin bikes. This is a great question, and in this article, I am going to tell you everything you need to know about how to properly warm up for an indoor cycling session. And if you haven’t read my tips on how to fuel up for a spinning workout, I suggest you check that out too.
The different types of Stretching
Before we answer the question, it is vital to understand the different types of stretching. You have static stretching, which is long holds. Then you have what we call dynamic stretching, where you stretch but in a much more active fashion to avoid injuries when cycling indoors. These can both be the same movements just one is more suited to a warm-up, and one isn’t.
Static Knee to Chest
In a static knee to chest, we would lay on the ground, take either our right leg or left leg, and pull it towards our chest with our back straight and planted to the floor. To do this as a static stretch, you would pull the knee in, hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat 2 to 3 times.
Dynamic Knee to Chest
A dynamic knee-to-chest, we would stay upright and forward walking, bringing out the knee to the chest for only about a second alternating left foot, right foot each step. We would aim to do about 20 on each side.
Which is better for a warm-up?
Both offer a stretch, but dynamic stretching is a much better technique for warming up than static stretching. It provides a full range of motion at your joints without the aggressive pull on the muscles. It’s not about the tightness. It’s about just getting the body moving before an indoor cycling workout.
Should you do static stretches before an indoor cycling workout?
In my opinion, it is a bad idea to stretch static before a workout. Your muscles at this point are very cold and tight. Stretching them could lead to many issues such as;
You can indeed injure yourself from stretching, and with cold muscles, there’s a high chance that you will do while stretching cold.
Not only is stretching before a spin bike workout not an ideal thing to do you also probably won’t be doing it to the best of your ability. Poor form will mean you might not be doing the stretch correctly, and also, there will be a chance of injury.
A Bad Workout from not warming up properly
Stretching when cold isn’t a good way to warm up, and you’re going into your main workout with an additional risk of injuries and not having a good cycling session.
What’s a Good Way to Warm Up?
In my opinion, dynamic stretching is the best way to go when it comes to warming up. It offers much less risk of injury, and it helps lubricate the joints ready for your workout and helps your body warm up for the correct form.
I would highly recommend looking at these exercises demonstrated by a professional before trying these, as it will help you get the correct form. It can be hard to visualize when being written. Not all of these are for everyone, so approach with caution and be safe.
First, I would start by limbering up, just move around a loosen everything off a few steps forward, a few back, and let everything shake off. Get in all those joints, your neck, shoulders, hips, knees, left hand, right hand, and ankles.
You have probably heard of squats before, bend down at the knees keeping your back straight. To start with, don’t go too deep. Aim for ten and just keep focusing on good form. You will feel the quad stretch at the front of each leg, and make sure you don’t lean too far forward, letting your chest drop.
On all fours, knees underneath hips, and hands underneath shoulders, try and get your lower back as tall as possible, gently pull for a few seconds and then try and get your lower back as low as possible, all while keeping a nice box shape in the process.
Stand nice and straight and lightly swing your left leg forward and back and then side to side crossing the front of your body. Aim to do this ten times on each, then switch to your right leg. It’s a great way to warm up your hip flexors.
A lunge is a great movement and very good at getting you ready to ride. It is challenging to keep it light to start with. Keep your back straight, put your right foot forward, lean your weight into it and get your left knee nice and close to the ground. Then put your power into the right foot again to bring yourself back up. Then once you have completed this ten times, swap to the other leg. You really want to keep the upper body and your back nice and straight it doesn’t matter if you lean forward a little as long as you hinge forward at your hips, and try and keep the weight off the back leg.
Lateral lunges are a simple exercise that will help warm up your insides and outside sections of your legs. Stand with your feet nice and wide apart, hands in front of you. Lean to one side and put your bodyweight over one of your legs, pushing pressure on the front of that leg and stretching the other leg out nice and wide. Spend a second at the bottom, then return to the center. Make sure you keep your hips square and the hips straight, pointing forward. Do ten on one side, then switch to the other side when you’re ready.
It’s vital to warm up, and doing a dynamic stretching warm up is an excellent way of getting ready for indoor cycling. It will help you smash your workouts and help prevent you from injuries. Keep in mind that you might need an exercise mat, they are big enough to keep your spin bike and at the same time warm up on the side.